Tip: There’s an Art to Formatting a Press Release

As we close in on the huge Consumer Electronics Show (still almost a month away) I am now getting 10-20 emails a day from PR agencies and publicists, inviting me to attend various events, come to parties, meet with executives, and schedule time to stop by one or another of the over 2000 vendors that are going to be at the show. Helpful, but overwhelming.

What it also highlights, however, is the difference between a PR agency that understands the reality of a busy journalist and those that exist rather for their own self-aggrandizement perhaps as much as for promoting their client.
Case in point, the press release from Sword Girls about their new beta release, from Michael Meyers Public Relations. My “press release” folder on Gmail has over 2100 releases tucked away for later reference, and coupled with the tsunami of CES releases, well, there’s really no justification for this:
pr gaffe spacing
It’s small but you can easily see that when I received this release, I had to actually scroll down in Gmail to get to the release itself, there was so much information about the PR agency included on the top. I appreciate your zeal, Michael, but surely the Facebook button to “like” the release is less important than actually showing me the release itself?
I might be nit-picking here, but if you’re in the media, you know what I mean: here’s a situation where a company has spent some coin hiring and working with a PR agency and they probably have no idea that the agency’s approach and release formatting is getting in the way of their success. Did I actually read the release? No. No pictures, having to scroll downward, it takes a few more neurons that I am willing to allocate to an unknown company. Is that harsh? Probably. But when I’m filtering through 25 or more releases received each day (that’ll jump up to a few hundred / day in January during CES) that’s my reality.
Do you receive press releases?  Do you ever look at how they’re formatting and laid out? What are your best recommendations for making them interesting, engaging and effective?

One comment on “Tip: There’s an Art to Formatting a Press Release

  1. Who, what, when, where & why, and if the recipient has set out a format and, especially, timeframe, then follow the instructions. Time is too precious to get bogged down in formatting, cutesy or anything detracting from the purpose of the release in a timely fashion.

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