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4 People That Muck Up Your Press Release
By: Mike Bush
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They say a camel is simply a horse drawn up by a committee. As flacks, inevitably, our press releases have to go through some sort of review processes. Whether we’re in an agency setting (where presumably the account team all has some sort of input into a release) or internal comms (where there are multiple constituents), there’s a real danger in letting our press releases turn into camels.

Here are four types of contributors, along with the pitfalls their contributions may bring to the table (and tips on how to handle them).
The Inclusionist. This person sees the big picture within a company, and wants every inch of that picture to be included in every press release. Got a paid company spokesperson? Excellent, include them. Company spokesperson can’t really be considered a thought leader on a particular subject? Who cares, include them anyway.
  • First, you need to explain to The Inclusionist that two releases are almost always better than one. If there are a couple of pieces of news, make them into multiple releases. It helps you build a narrative (both in pitch letters, and perhaps on a company blog), while also showing consistent progress. Examples are key to working with The Inclusionist. For example, if Colonial Penn opened a new office, maybe Alex Trebek wouldn’t be the ideal person to convey excitement over the new space?
The SEO Guru. (Why do SEO folks refer to themselves as gurus? Was there an SEO class I missed where this became a requirement? Guru-ism 101?) Anyway, this person probably wants to include embedded links. Lots of themAs many as possible.
  • To deal with this person, simply remind them that Google no longer gives credit for these links, as discussed on SearchEngineWatch.
The Lawyer. Whether it’s an actual attorney, or someone who wishes they were one, I suspect we’ve all heard something along the lines of, “Our company has 9,789,167 users, why would you call that ‘almost 10 Million’?”
  • At the end of the day, most press releases should be written in a way that someone in eighth grade should be able to understand (If you search for this on Google, you’ll find results from third grade through eighth grade pretty readily). Does an eighth grader care whether or not those 210,833 folks have signed up for a service? It’s doubtful.
The Cheerleader. Also known as “The Enthusiast” or “The Salesguy,” this person wants to include as much hyperbole as possible into a release. Bonus points if your Cheerleader wants to include the phrase “we’re excited" in a quote.
  • To help this person see the light, you need to explain what a press release is actually for. Sure, it might be included in a sales kit and/or collateral materials, but those items are where the excitement should live. I suspect that most reporters can see through the hype. Also, you can simply remind this person “of course we’re excited about it… we’re putting out an announcement about it.”
With this group, there are some battles worth fighting, and some we’ll never win. At the end of the day, though, we need to be better at explaining that we “know what we’re doing” when it comes to press releases. As Forbes Contributor Jennifer Leggio says:

There are many reasons why the inverted pyramid style of writing exists. Seriously.

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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