Why News Releases Fail

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Why News Releases Fail

By: Paul Krupin

Sorry about my otaku with this issue (otaku = more than a hobby, a little less than an obsession).

Many of you may know me, since I run Imediafax, the Internet to Media Fax Service. I send out over a million news releases a year for people via fax and email. You probably think that I've got news releases failing on me day in and day out.

Actually, I don't. The news releases I write and send out for people do quite well. My clients are quite happy with me because they are successful with their outreach efforts.

It's the draft news releases that people send to me that are my problem.

Fixing the problems I see in the news releases people send me takes forever. It is also very painful.

I've seen a lot of news release failure over the years, and I now know what the key problems look like and how to fix them.

My plight as a publicist is that I spend a lot of time educating my clients trying to get them to understand the psychology of dealing with the media.

The rubber meets the road in the news release because this single sheet of paper is the key nexus for all communications with the media. The importance of the copy on a news release cannot be overstated. It has to be free of negative issues or factors that will reduce or eliminate media interest and response. One fatal error and it's all over.

So identifying the problems and revising the news releases is crucial. I spend a tremendous amount of time and effort trying to avoid sending out news releases with problems still in them.

The issue is that when people send me news releases, it often takes a long, long time to identify and communicate the problems, and then more time again to explain and negotiate all the word changes with the clients, and more time still to finalize the news release and have it ready and approved for transmittal.

Honestly - it can be very painful for all involved. I'm quite brutal on my clients, since their success is all that matters. I don't pull any punches. My comment process can bruise a lot of highly inflated egos of some otherwise very accomplished people, on the way to a problem free news release that maximizes the chances of success when finally sent. Lots of people think they can write a news release. Very few of them can do it very well.

They simply haven't followed the media response to enough news releases to learn the errors that are made when they write news releases. They haven't yet learned what the mistakes are, so there is no learning from continuous improvement.

This is where the blood, sweat and tears of the copywriting business is truly found. It gets even tougher when another professional publicist wrote the news release for the client. Now the client is getting opposing advice from two professionals. One says "Make it Hot" and the other says "Cool it". What's a publicist to do?

So my motivations for doing this article are really quite selfish. I want to spend less time doing this. My life will be significantly improved if my clients send me news releases that take less time and energy to fix. Very simply, for each and every news release that comes in and doesn't have these problems, I'll free myself to spend more time doing things that are more profitable for my clients and me.

The issues listed here have all been identified as reasons for the failure of a news release. This is based on over 20 years of experience in dealing with the aftermath - the actual number and quality of responses generated from the transmittal of a news release.

So here are the most common reasons why news releases fail:

1.) You wrote an advertisement. It's not a news release at all. It sells product. It fails to offer solid news of real tangible interest, value-added information, education or entertainment.

2.) You wrote for a minority, not for a majority of people in the audience. You simply won't compete with other news releases that clearly are written for a larger demographic of the media audience.

3.) You are the center of attention, not the media audience. You focus on your business and your marketing, instead of things the editor and his or her audience will be interested in.

4.) You forgot to put the five W's up front. (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INTERESTED). You didn't clearly and succinctly tell the media why the audience would be interested in this.

5.) You are too wordy and text dense. You focused on details and minutia, instead of the most important ideas, issues, factors, facts, and news angles. You fail to address the real significant impacts your story has on people.

6.) You place too much information on one page - the one page news release has a font size so small an editor needs a magnifying glass to read it.

7.) You included corporate logos and other non-persuasive low value added graphics that distract the editor from your key message. You may have also used an unusual fancy font or a file format that turns to gobbledygook when it goes through a fax machine.

8.) You wrote a personally biased article for the media to publish, instead of pitching the idea to the media and the objective reasons why the media audience will be interested.

9.) You wrote about features and facts, and forgot to explain what it means to real people. Tell a story about real people. Add in real life human interest.

10.) You wrote about how your news ties in to someone else's fame and glory. Forget it. Never stand in the shadow of someone else. Make your own light. Tell your own story.

11.) Your news release responds to something that just happened. You're too late. You're behind the eight ball. Forget it. Get out in front of the news.

12.) You included too much hype, self-laudatory praise, pithy quotes, useless testimonials, jargon or gobbledygook. Get rid of it.

13.) You may have also identified prior media coverage, which indicates it's no longer a new issue. Get rid of it. Let each news release stand on it's own two feet.

14.) You tried to impress and be clever or innovative but you come off naïve, less than expert, biased, flippant, arrogant, or crazy. Tone it down. Get straight.

15.) You made vague and unsubstantiated claims, or wild and outrageous claims, or you included a statement that simply rubs the media the wrong way. Get rid of them.

16.) You are trying to be different, just for the sake of it, but you come off eccentric. Forget it. Don't create a false or inflated image. Be yourself.

17.) You wrote a rant and rave, worthy of a letter to the editor, instead of a problem solving tips article, worthy of a feature story. Decide what you want, put your best effort into it.

18.) You are simply not credible. It could be your ideas are simply not well thought out, or that you've offered old well-worn material, or that you are too extreme or controversial, or not qualified. You may not be expert enough, or sufficiently qualified, to make the statements, compared to others in your field. You need to present information that qualifies you properly and adequately.

19.) You provided poor contact information. You need to identify the best single point of contact and the correct phone number so interested media can reach you and get the best possible attention and response from you to meet their needs. One key person, one phone, no fax, one email address, and one URL (with no long string addresses).

20.) You did not include a clear media call for action. You didn't tell the media what you want them to do with your news release. You need to tell them what you are asking for or suggesting or offering. Then you need to offer the media incentives value-added reasons to do so, like free review copies, free test samples, interview questions and answers, media kits with story angles and stats and data, relevant photographs, etc.

21.) You did not incorporate and integrate a primary response mechanism. You need to include a value-added reason, which motivates the editor to publish or mention your contact information, which will generate calls, traffic, interviews, or requests for more information. This usually means something unique and of special value to the audience, that the editor feels good about mentioning. Use an offer for a free problem solving report.

22.) You sent the release to the wrong media. Target the media that your clients read, watch and listen to when they are in the right mood, that is, receptive to hearing about your news, and willing to take action when they get your message. Work with your publicist to target the right media.

23.) You rely on a single fax or an email to produce an avalanche of media calls. You conduct no follow up. Get real. Follow up properly and you can triple or quadruple your media response rate. Better still, you can ask the editors "what can I give you to support a feature story and meet your needs".

Finally, the biggest reason for news release failure is one of attitude. How do you define success or failure? It's called unrealistic expectations.

Get real. You won't get rich off one news release. You're chances of getting famous are just about as slim.

You might be able to break even.

Look at your investment and compare it to what you need to break even on your investment. If you need to sell 100 books to cover the costs of a $500 outreach effort, you need ten articles because each article only produces ten sales. So that's your breakeven goal. More books per article, means less articles will satisfy your needs.

You may simply have to be realistic and understand that while you are wildly interested in the topic, it may not have the broad general public interest that you have for the subject. If you wrote an article that has local interest and you expect national media to pay attention, think again.

If you want to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show, then you'd better pray because chances of doing it off one news release are very slim, near zero in fact. Get real. If she calls, then congratulations are in order. But don't count on it.

If you wrote an advertisement and wanted a feature story and interviews, don't be surprised if the only media to call is the advertising manager offering you a package deal. You get what you ask for. What you offer is often times what you will get.

Even if you do get publicity, it may not come out exactly the way you want it. More often than not, the bigger the media, the less likely they are to run contact information.

Often times, the quality may be there while the numbers are not.

One or two quality media responses may be what you want or need. If you get that, it's a success.

One article in USA Today may out perform ten articles in small dailies and weeklies in the mid-west.

On the other hand, it may not. The small high quality articles may outperform the small mention in the big media.

Similarly, one quality 30-minute interview on a well-liked talk show on a radio station in the middle of nowhere out in the mid-west, will likely outsell a five-minute interview on an Arbitron rated radio station in the middle of the morning talk show in a major metropolitan area. You can't tell the listening quality of the audience.

So when you write a news release please review it against these criteria to see if you've made any of these errors. Then fix each and every one of them yourself, and when you are done, feel free to send me your final draft. I'll be happy to take a look at it.

So listen to your publicist. Heed these warnings and reduce the risks of failure. Fail to pay attention to these issues, proceed at your own risk.

About The Author

Paul J. Krupin is the author of the book "Trash Proof News Releases" and creator of IMEDIAFAX - The Internet to Media Fax Service .a personal publicity service that transmits news releases to custom targeted media lists via fax and e-mail His website http://www.imediafax.com/ is packed with articles and a comprehensive media jump station. The 244 page first edition of "Trash Proof News Releases" is available as a free pdf file download or via email upon request. Email him directly at Paul@imediafax.com 800-457-8746 509-545-2707


ken 19.12.2011. 17:32

How do news releases affect the company, public, stockholders, investors, and the community? How do news releases affect the company, public, stockholders, investors, and the community?


Admin 19.12.2011. 17:32

In the same way TV, radio, internet and printed media effects consumers.
The mind set of people is truly effected by what they hear. read or see. Commercials are designed to get consumers attention and convince them of the message suggested by the advertisement.
News releases do the same molding opinions and related actions. We have seen a huge effort in the past two+ years in controlling the populations attitude toward political actions and politicians, in job creations and in business expansion.
The GOP has used the media to the maximum in their mission of ensuring failure of the Obama Administration. They have worked harder at seeing he fails than in helping America recover. The Republicans spend more time in front of TV cameras than they do in chambers working to help fix America.


Aaron 14.01.2010. 23:08

Do you as a citizen feel the catch and release of illegal aliens is insulting? With so many Americans out of work, in some areas it is over 12% and those statistics are only the ones who collect unemployment, not all who are out of work. So you find this insulting?

Why should any illegal alien be caught and released back into society?

Why were these illegals not checked for document fraud and why has the employer not been busted for hiring these illegals?

I find this very offensive, especially having our law enforcement officers being taxi drivers for people who are breaking the law, what do you think?


US Fed News
January 13, 2010

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee issued the following news release:

Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued the following statement today in response to a news report regarding illegal immigrants who were caught-and-released en route to work at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts last week.

According to the story, dozens of illegal immigrants said they were detained and processed then driven back to the stadium by federal agents.

According to one of the illegal immigrants quoted in the story, "They told us if you want to go to work, you can go to work."

Ranking Member Smith: "The Obama administration's latest refusal to enforce the nation's immigration laws is an insult to every out-of-work citizen and legal immigrant.

The Obama administration has reinstated the failed catch-and-release policies of the past and has even gone so far as to turn federal law enforcement officers into taxi drivers to get illegal immigrants back to their illegal jobs!

"These jobs rightfully belong to citizens and legal immigrants. With a 10 percent unemployment rate, now is the time for the President to enforce immigration laws and return stolen jobs to the people.

When the jobs stolen by illegal immigrants are recovered for citizens and legal workers, American workers benefit.

"President Obama could create eight million jobs for citizens and legal workers simply by enforcing immigration laws.

Instead, weak immigration enforcement policies hurt citizens and legal immigrants. It is hard to conceive of a worse time to implement such policies, but that is exactly what the administration has done."

It is a violation of federal law for an illegal immigrant to work without authorization. Eight million illegal immigrants currently work in the U.S.

The release and return-to-work of these illegal immigrants follows the implementation of a new fugitive policy by the Obama administration that federal agents should only detain illegal immigrants who have removal orders or criminal histories.

The policy ignores the data that shows caught-and-released illegal immigrants rarely show up for later court dates.

For more information please contact: Sarabjit Jagirdar, Email:- htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

Thanks for asking but I have a job, I am a teacher who see's what illegals are doing to the educational system first hand.


Admin 14.01.2010. 23:08

Yes, it is VERY insulting, like rubbing our faces in their crime. EVERYONE! PLEASE! Report "Don Armando" or whatever his many names are! THERE IS NO PLACE for his racial slurs on here!


jack-copeland@sbcglobal.net 30.08.2007. 10:54

Why does everyone expect the government to offer protection against criminals? I have just read the news release on how lives could have been saved at VT. It talked about earlier warnings and communcations. It does not say anything about people taking control of the situration. Are we American just passive lambs wanting the government to do everything for us? Or, should we be more active and pro-active with the challenges we face?


Admin 30.08.2007. 10:54

It is reports like the VT report that demonstrate quite loudly and clearly the contradiction of our government and police force. It has been decided time and time again that it is not the job of the police to protect you. You cannot hold the police liable if they fail to protect you from crime. Why, oh why then, do folks like to spout off that if the police had done this or that,then all would be well and good, no one would get hurt.

Horse feathers.

Our police force is a reactionary force. They cannot act UNTIL a crime has occurred. otherwise, they would be trampling on your individual rights as a citizen. Be glad that they cannot act until something happens, otherwise, folks would be dragged out of bed at 2 am to disappear into a prison ..... ( KGB anyone?)

Yes, too many Americans are passive lambs. They expect the government to bail them out. Think of New Orleans. How many lambs failed to get out of the way of the approaching storm even though they were told of it imminent arrival? Then how many of those people blamed the government for not doing enough to help them. Sad really. People in the USA need to be aware that we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. We have the right and duty to protect ourselves.

How many students do you really think would have died at VT if any other students were armed? Would Cho have even attempted such a act if he had known there was the possibility that someone else in the buildings were armed too? It is my position that fewer people would have died if the anti gun nuts in the country would stop trying to make it impossible for people to defend themselves. I am sick of rules that seem to trump our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms in this country. Why can a school state that it is a gun free zone? Heck, all they are doing is advertising there are no other guns on campus, so any criminals who want to shoot, come on in!

Americans need to be more proactive in their own defense. More proactive with the challenges we face. We are facing not only Cho's ouot there, but there are real terrorists out there who want to do more. Wouldn't it be nice if a law abiding citizen caught a terrorist in the act and was able to stop it quickly, without waiting for the police?


High Priestess Shizuka 17.06.2011. 13:24

Why have Republicans failed to take this article down from the Bush Archives? http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020617.html

It is a smoking gun.
Frank and Dodd did not have the power to pass gas in those years.
440 billion in loans that had to be paid to bank in Bush's TARP is what it is.

High Priestess Shizuka

Admin 17.06.2011. 13:24

Bush?s ?Ownership Society? is a concept to which conservatives/Republicans never refer. I suppose that they can?t remove the documented references.

Bush?s push for home ownership would not have been so detrimental if it hadn?t been accompanied by the administration?s push for lax requirements for qualifying for mortgages. Also harmful was the lax oversight of the mortgage industry.

In addition, the negligent oversight of the Wall Street investment houses nearly brought down the entire economy. The "creative" financial instruments that were based on the shaky mortgages were ignored by the Bush administration until they threatened the country's basic financial structure.


Jshay 26.06.2013. 16:43

What law gives judges the power to arbitrarily jail people in contempt of court? Contempt of court jailings are autocratic and arbitrary punishments handed out by a judge. They can be handed out for any reason including texting in court, and they can become effective life sentences since there is no limit to how long they last. Worst of all, contempt of court jailings make the defendant automatically guilty without possibility of trial. They aren't even handed out by a jury, but rather by one singular person, the judge, who can jail an entire courtroom in contempt of court if it suits him.

Judge jails lawyer in contempt of court for pointing out judge's illegal conduct

Judge gives contempt of court life sentence to man who is financially unable to pay court mandated fees

Judge jails man in contempt of court for texting

The Supreme Court could also jail President Obama in comtempt of court for failing to enforce Federal Marijuana Laws. The President would have no recourse but to go to jail for his "crime." Note that it is entirely within the Supreme Court's discretion to decide whether or not the President can pardon himself.

This whole contempt of court business is absolutely unconstitutional as they violate due process laws. People jailed in contempt of court are afforded no presumption of innocence, are held without charge of any criminal law, are not entitled to a trial by jury, and can be jailed indefinitely for any duration determined by the whim of judges.


Admin 26.06.2013. 16:43

The Supreme Court can't jail a president for any reason, period.

No federal court can jail indefinitely on al contempt charge, the maximum is 6 months for criminal, 18 for civil. The charge of contempt (both civil and criminal) is found in the US Code below. If the charge is Criminal Contempt, the accused is entitled to a jury trial, 18 USC Chapter 3691. For civil contempt, the accused has the power to free himself by complying with the order.

If a judge abuses the contempt power, he/she can be removed from the case by a higher-level judge or impeached by the legislature. The cases from the WSJ article are state cases, and state laws differ widely. BTW -- H. Beatty Chadwick was released from jail in 2009.


buttusmax 24.07.2009. 23:23

Why do the democrats still support Obama? Even if he a is sinking ship? A FOX News poll released Thursday shows approval of Obama's job performance at a new low of 54 percent. That is down from 62 percent in June. The president's job approval rating has averaged 61 percent over the first six months of his term.


Admin 24.07.2009. 23:23

You know why because everyone wants him to fail. It's really pathetic that just because he's Obama everybody criticizes him so much more. Nobody was questioning Bush about why he knocked down the twin towers. If Obama continues to do what he's doing, he'll be one of the greatest presidents alive!!!!


Bat M 17.12.2009. 13:04

What do people make of this shocking story I just read on yahoo news? Two 10-year-old boys have appeared in court charged with the rape of a girl under the age of 13.
The alleged attack relates to an incident in a park in Hayes, west London, on October 27.

The boys, who appeared before magistrates in Uxbridge, west London, are each charged with two counts of rape.

They were released on conditional bail and will return to the court for another hearing on January 28.

Bat M

Admin 17.12.2009. 13:04

That parents have failed to raise their children, society has gotten some extremely bad influence and that we need to amend the way families are living


flhomeschoolers 31.12.2007. 06:21

What is the best way to get media coverage for an event? I have tried mailing in press releases, emailing in press releases. I have called places and ask who I needed to speak to about getting event coverage and only getting an email address for a response.

Is there some secret to get somewhere with it?


Admin 31.12.2007. 06:21

What kind of event is it? It may not be news worthy. If you have something that is news worthy, then try and target the person at the paper or station that handles your particular activity. Whether it is a community service, or heaalth related someone specific handles your type of event. It is important that you find this person, and make personal contact with him/her so that you can pitch your event. An email is not personal enough, plus by the time it gets read your event might be passed.
Also, don't annunce your event to far in advance. Try and be there at the station or paper in person, and see the editor you have chosen based on the contact. Try and get personal contact and plead your case. Do this no more than a few days in advance or it will get burried. If you are pitching a newspaper, make sure you respect their deadline.
It is good to have a website that they can goto to read more about the event. If you have some pictures that are relevant, make those available on the website, and make sure you have some high reolution images they can use if they want to. If it is a video media you are targeting, make sure you have some "B roll" footage for them to view, and give this to them on a dvd with your release. Make your event stand out more than the other 100 or so they got that day.
If it is a fast news day you are out of luck...weather, limb loss, assasination and 1000's of other stories can eclipse your event coverage. Try and avoid holidays for your release.
Lastly, if you have failed, call him back and ask what you could have or should do differently the next time. Good Luck


Mother Hubbard 24.09.2010. 18:34

What is the reason for widespread bullying in all schools? Is there something important we're failing to teach?
Did we make another generation of bullies and misfits on purpose?

Mother Hubbard

Admin 24.09.2010. 18:34

Mental illness. Bullies and with their cohorts are sadistic and inflict torture on their victims. In fact, they seem to actually derive pleasure from their actions. Like pedophiles, there is no known cure for those who willfully, intentionally and purposefully enjoy the torment of others.

The best we can do is to institutionalize them and minimize the harm that they do to others.

Bullies are often the offspring of other bullies, so being mindful of the reproductive strategies of bullies is worth noting.

Like wild animals, they will often operate in packs in their cowardice and use violence.

We know what to do with animals that are dangerous.


weilunt0219 05.04.2010. 16:18

What percent of gold does each type of asteroid have? I am doing research on the types of asteroids and what percent of gold each type contains for a class project. Unfortunately, google magic seems to fail me, once again. If anyone finds the percentages of the more common asteroids (or all of them if possible) I would really appreciate it. Thank you in advance.


Admin 05.04.2010. 16:18



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