PR News Releases DOA? Quick Tips for Better Writing, Media Relations

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A majority of PR news releases are dead on arrival (DOA) at media outlets, often unseen by the intended writer, editor or producer. Research by Gable PR found the problems, leading to 10 easy tips for helping break through the clutter.

Wondering why your news isn't getting through? In some cases, it may be DOA (dead on arrival) and you may never have had the benefit of a crime scene investigation (CSI) to tell you why, until now.

With former journalists on staff, including a Pulitzer Prize nominee, Gable PR helps clients increase results in media relations and reduce wasted efforts. We regularly check with former colleagues and friends in the media to find out what they like and don't like, resulting in the following 10-point CSI on why releases arrive DOA:

1. Wrong Publication -- Major cause: not understanding what the media use or don't use, such as sending a color mug shot of the new VP marketing at a private start-up to The Wall Street Journal, blasting an earnings report from a local company to the business editors of every major daily newspaper in the country, sending new product stories to magazines that cover trends and vice versa.

2. Wrong Target -- The most egregious: sending something addressed simply to the Editor or an editor long departed. Also misdirection: A biotech pitch aimed at the telecom writer; a software story to the city columnist.

3. Lame Subject Line -- Bad examples include "See the attached" (with nothing in the message section); "for immediate release"; anything that includes leading, paradigm, synergy, best of breed, solutions, superlatives; an exclamation point (!); or no subject line. The best are like hot headlines in the tabloids - three to eight words that grab attention.

4. Obvious Spam -- Anything with more than one name in the "TO:" line.

5. Clogging the Pipeline -- Not every writer/editor is on DSL or a cable modem connection. Don't send big attachments that take forever to download. You may never get through. Email software can alert to any file over a certain size, say 100kb, so it can be deleted from the server without being downloaded, or read. Give them a link, or the option to reply and ask for more.

6. Bad Headlines -- Think like an editor. Simply ask yourself, from an outside point of view: so what and who cares?

7. Burying the News -- If it's not in the headline, first paragraph, or both, it's goodbye.

8. Lack of Style -- Beyond content, connect with the media in their own news style, which is dictated by the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (Perseus Books). Typical errors: capitalizing every possible title after a name (Joe Smythe, Asst. Vice President of Outside Sales, Lower Echelon Division), leaving out a first or last name of a person cited in the story, or their titles, or both.

9. Content, of Course -- Lack of news, unsubstantiated claims (world leader), superlatives, lack of supporting data, hyperbole, self-serving quotes by the CEO or others, jargon-laden copy understood by only a few engineers, Ph.D. or cognoscenti in the business.

10. Credibility -- Some media employ a so-called Bozo Filter to automatically delete, unread, any email from certain companies and agencies based on their previous performance, or lack of same.

(For more information: or write [email protected])


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