Killing the Press Release

There’s a movement underway to kill off the press release. Some folks can’t wait for the release to hasten its own demise. Others feel like the problem is that too many folks write bad releases. Here’s my own checklist (from my own days as a journalist) for whether a release is worth pursuing:

  • Does is clearly contain Who, What, Where, When, and Why at the top of the release?
  • Does is concern a clear event or concern that my audience cares about?
  • Is there a “hook” or a tie-in to recent trends or events?
  • Is there a great quote that I can reprint or a number I can call to get an IMMEDIATE sound bite?

And here’s the flip side… the items that would send a release right to my shredder:

  • Does the writer/company/agency expect me to simply educate my audience about their stuff without any real story or hook?
  • Is the release vague or unprofessional?
  • Does the release sound like brochure copy instead of a neutral-sounding information nugget?

PR is another area where too many musicians suffer from the “because we rock” syndrome. Tell us why you’re important. Tell us why your audience enjoys your work. Tell us how you’re using your craft to make the world better. And show us — through album sales, attendance, and legitimate awards — that you’re growing an audience with or without the help of the press.

The truth is, so many bad press releases flooding the wires really are causing journalists to look elsewhere for story ideas. Make sure you’ve got other ways to get the word out, like blogs or newsletters.