March 16, 2010

Virtual Press Release Faux Pas


Hostway Team

By Janet Attard

Using using email to send press releases to editors can save you considerable time and money. One click and your release can be on its way to dozens of editors. But sending a release in email doesn't equate with getting it published—or even read! One click of the mouse is all it takes for each editor or writer on your mailing list to delete the release, often without opening your email at all.

What can you do to give your email press releases a better chance of getting read? Here, based on blunders I see frequently in press releases emailed to, are six press release sins to avoid.

1. Dull Subject Lines

Remember, the subject line on an email press release works like the headline on a printed release. It is a hook that will entice an editor to read the release - or to delete it unread. Send me an email that has a subject line that reads "for immediate release" and I'll yawn and hit the delete key unless I'm really short on material or just plain bored. Just as bad: a press release that shows up with a subject line that reads (no subject). Hey, if you can't be bothered to figure out what's important about your news release, why should I bother to open the mail and read it?

2. Unbelievable Subject Lines

Your subject line must grab the editor's attention, but only for the right reasons. If the subject line is unbelievable or has a double meaning, it will doom your release to electronic never-never land, or worse, make it the laughing stock of the editorial department. A good example is a release that hit my email box recently. It had a subject line that read:


What was being promoted was an alternative to traditional fax transmissions. An interesting subject, to be sure. But all this release did was to conjure up images of irate editors smashing their fax machines with sledge hammers to stop them from spitting out mindless press releases and ads. So the headline got copied into my all-time funnies file, and the release got moved into Outlook's Deleted Items folder.

3. CC List Follies

Nothing is more annoying to a busy editor than opening an email and seeing dozens of email addresses including their own on the addressee list. Yes, editors realize that unless something is promoted personally to them as an exclusive, other editors will get the same release. But why remind them. An added reason not to CC a list of email names: most people don't want their email addresses widely distributed. To avoid annoying writers and editors learn how to use the blind copy function in email.

4. $$$$!!!!! Madness

Repeating dollar signs and exclamation marks in your subject line or text makes your press release look like an opportunity scam. It may make your press release get blocked by spam filters, too. If you want editors to receive your news release and take it seriously, ditch that dollar signs and exclamation points and replace the hype with persuasive facts.

5. Press Release Spam

While it may not cost you any extra money to personally email press releases to editors that never run stories on the topic of your release, it could get your email account marked as one that sends spam. That might cause all email you send to get moved to spam folders.

6. Fatal Attachments

The fastest way to make your press release hit the recycle bin is to send it as attached mail. Attachments take more time to read since they require the editor to save the file to disk, switch to a word processing program and hunt for the directory the file was saved into before they can see what the release is all about. What's worse is that attachments can carry viruses, password sniffers or trojans. Editors and writers usually will not open such mail from strangers. Often, they won't open attachments from people they know, either, without being told in advance that they are going to be sent something as an attachment.

The Key to Success

Once you've eliminated these fatal flaws, your email press releases will at least stand a chance of getting read. If you target your press releases to editors and writers who regularly write about the subject of your release, and write the releases with the media's audience in mind, you are much more likely to get the publicity you seek.

About the Author

Janet Attard is the founder and CEO of, a popular small business Web site that provides ideas and strategies for growing a business and making it profitable. The site attracts 3 million visitors a year, contains thousands of free articles about sales, marketing, internet marketing, business finance, ecommerce and all phases of starting and growing small and home businesses. Janet is a small and home business expert and has authored several books for business owners and startups. Visit Business Know-How and sign up for their free newsletter at

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