Mistakes Not to Make When Writing a Press Release

 

Press releases are an important tool for all public relations professionals. They help get major events and news occurring in your company or organization to the press so that the desired audience can be informed about them. When writing a good press release, make sure to avoid the following mistakes: 

Use Boring Titles

When creating a title for your press release, avoid making it lengthy and detailed. Your title should have a “punch” to it and should be concise and engaging while still reviewing what the document will be about.

Begin with General Information

It is important to start with the main information (who, what, when, where, how, why) when writing a press release because readers do not like to dig around for information. This way, it will grab readers’ attention from the beginning and give them what they are looking for.

Add Excessive Details

When writing a press release, less is more. Keep the information clear and concise so that the journalists you send the release to can quickly go through the information. This is important because the press is constantly receiving releases; by making it simple, the reader will be able to get through your release quickly.

Make it Very Short

Even though you want to make the press release short and concise, you still have to make sure to add all the important and relevant information so that the press has something good to go off of. Begin your press release with the news announcement, add important quotes in the middle, and end with a boilerplate about your organization, company or client.

Don’t Use Quotes

Always add as many quotes as available. Quotes are helpful to keep the release upbeat and to the point without having the press change the information they are receiving.

Don’t add Contact Information

Always add valid, up to date contact information. You should include your name, phone number and email address. Your phone number should be your direct contact rather than your company/organization’s general contact number.

Ignore your Audience

Adjust your press release according to the medium you will send it to. Know what the correct tone to use is and write with clarity so that the reader understands the context.

Write in First Person Pronoun

Always write in third person and avoid first person pronouns at all costs.

Don’t Revise Press Release

Do not forget to revise your press release. Make sure that your release is as clear as it can be with no punctuation or spelling mistakes. Sometimes, when the press sees more than one mistake on the release they disregard it, and it can give you a bad reputation if your release has many errors in it.

Keep these points in minds and avoid making these mistakes the next time you write out a press release.

How to Build a PR Distribution List

So, you have your press release ready to send out but to whom do you send them? Here are some tips on creating a press release distribution list so that you never have to wonder again.

Your best starting point would be to prepare a distribution list on a spreadsheet program, like Excel. The next step would be to get on an online search engine, like Google, and begin searching all the local mediums available for you to send the releases to. Here is where you should search for local daily newspapers, magazines, newsletters, websites, and radio and T.V. stations.

Once you have all the local mediums listed in your spreadsheet, along with the best way to get in contact with them, the next step is to search for any national and/or international (depending on your target audience) mediums to send the release to. Here you should research other magazines, newspapers, websites, and radio and T.V. stations. When doing this, make sure that the media outlets are all in relation to what your press news is about.

By considering the theme of your news release, you could also search for any blogs that are relative to the content of your news.

Another option for press release distribution is press portals like www.free-press-release.com, www.prnewswire.com, or www.prlog.org. These will distribute your news throughout the Internet for you for free, or with a fee.

(Source: Stars for Europe)

Although online portals may seem like a better alternative, creating your own distribution list and distributing your press release on your own can better guarantee that your news will actually get posted in a news medium.

Finally, make sure to keep your distribution list updated as time goes on.

Remember to make your list according to the audience you are trying to target, and make sure you are personalizing your release according to the journalist or news medium you are sending it to.

WordPress Security Tips – Charlotte Hyland

WordPress is our preferred content management system here at Sperling Interactive. There are so many ways to customize WordPress and make it your own. With thousands of plugins and the ability to create custom post types and templates, the possibilities are endless. With all of this freedom comes responsibility. The more that a WordPress site is open to the outside world, via plugins and third party templates, the more security can become an issue. Here are our top tips and methods for keeping all of our client sites safe and secure.

Don’t Let Updates Get You Down

Keeping your WordPress site and plugins up-to-date is crucial to maintaining a safe website. The trouble we most encounter when a client comes to us with an old website is that it hasn’t been updated in many months, or sometimes years! Updating these sites can become an issue, as sometimes the older plugins are no longer maintained by the original developer, and can have compatibility issues with newer versions of WordPress. We always make a backup of the database and cross our fingers! When updating your site, you should make a backup of the database, especially if it’s been a while since your last update. If you have access to your website hosting, you can log into phpMyAdmin and export the database file. If you’re not super technically savvy, you can use a plugin like WP-DB-Backup (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-db-backup/) to help you. If you break the site during an update, you will need to restore the backup. This tends to be a more technical task, so ask a web developer for help!

Keeping track of when plugins need to be updated can be a pain. The plugin Wordfence can be configured to send you emails if there is an update available for a plugin or WordPress core. This is a great security plugin that I will discuss later in this blog.

Use Plugins Responsibly

Oh WordPress plugins. A great example that you can have “too much of a good thing.” WordPress plugins are great, most are free, and they can help you add many features to your site that would otherwise require hiring a fancy web developer. Do you need an event calendar, photo slideshow, or a contact form? Plugins have got you covered. Most are easy to use and compatible with WordPress and other plugins.

As a developer, I approach plugins as I approach shopping. Is this something I need, or something I want? Is this a feature I could code myself? You should only use plugins you absolutely need for your site to run as it should. Because plugins are written by third party companies and developers, there can be security holes. A malicious hacker could get their hands on the code of a plugin and add something that could inject spam or break your website. If a plugin hasn’t been updated in a couple of years, this means that the developer has likely abandoned it, and you can’t guarantee that in that time a hacker hasn’t gotten his or her hands on the code. Here’s my checklist when choosing a plugin…

  • Has the plugin been updated in the past two years at least?
  • Does the plugin have good ratings?
  • Do I have a similar plugin already installed on my site? (If you have contact form plugins installed on your site, there might be a conflict in the code and one or both of the forms could break)
  • Does the plugin have good documentation or support? (If I run into an issue and need help, I want to make sure there’s someone there to help me)

Security Plugins

Wordfence Security (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/) has proved to be an invaluable tool for keeping our client’s sites secure and up to date. Here are some of our favorite features…

  • Blocking repeated login attempts: Wordfence can detect when a hacker or bot is trying over an over again to log into your site. You can set up Wordfence to block their IP address for as little as 5 minutes to as long as 2 days. You can then log into your site and manually block that IP address permanently. When using this featured you will begin to notice that some hackers use a bunch of different IP addresses from all over the world when attacking a site. So if their IP address in Russia is blocked, they will try logging into your site using their IP address in Germany instead. Wordfence can keep blocking these attempts until the hacker gives up and moves on to wreak havoc on another website.
  • Notifications of Available Updates: You can configure Wordfence to notify you when plugins or the WordPress core needs to be updated.
  • Malicious Code Notifications: If your site does get hacked, Wordfence is there to help you clean up the mess. When malicious code is detected on your site, Wordfence will send you a notification. It will tell you which files on your site contain the malicious code, so you know exactly where to clean house.

Jetpack (https://wordpress.org/plugins/jetpack/ )is a robust plugin that is created by the WordPress team, so you know you can trust the code. Not only does it have some security features, like protecting your site against brute force attacks, and notifying you if your site goes down, but there at a ton of other features, like share buttons, contact forms, and cool photo galleries.

Overview and Some Quick Security Tips

  • Delete any unused themes. If a theme is older, a hacker could break into your site that way.
  • Keep plugins and WordPress core updated
  • Do not use “admin” or “user” as your WordPress user name. These are the first user names that hackers and bots try when attempting to log into your site. It’s as bad as using “password” as your password.
  • Only use the plugins you need. If you’re no longer using a plugin, delete it.
  • Install Wordfence and check out some of the features. This is an amazing plugin for security and general website maintenance.
  • WordPress comes with Akismet (http://akismet.com/). Use it. This plugin helps control spam comments on your blog, and also controls malicious code being entered as a comment.

If you do get hacked, call us- we can help! We also offer a monthly maintenance package, so if you don’t want to deal with pesky updates, we can take care of it for you.

New Year Resolutions for Small Businesses

 

Happy New Year everyone! With every New Year comes a new, sometimes recycled, resolution. We have come up with some New Year’s resolutions for small businesses, like us, that we’d like to share.

Focus on employees:

Building relationships within the company should always be a goal. By building relationships, the work environment becomes a more positive and profitable one. Planning more company outings and activities can help create new relationships and keep the ones that have already been made.

Stay in contact with customers:

Like building relationships within the company are important, so is building relationships with your customers. Make sure to check in with them to make sure everything is going well and that they are satisfied with the work your company is providing for them. This could also make it easier to follow up with any business concerns that may come about on either side.

Plan Ahead:

This is such a simple goal, yet somehow we find it difficult to keep up with. Planning ahead for any crisis or event is so important. It can save a company a lot of time and money.

Think about digital security:

Digital security has been a major concern for everyone individually and business wise in the entire nation. This year, take charge by getting better digital security for your company and say “out of the way” to hackers.

Create better marketing strategies:

A major way to help create a better marketing strategy is by improving specific geotargeting, especially online. This will help raise more awareness of your company wherever you want there to be.

Stay Present outside of the business:

It is very easy to bring home your work identity since it is such a great part of your life, but learning to separate your work identity from your personal identity is important. Try to leave all business work at the door of the office and mainly focus on your family and home when you clock out.

Say no:

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to say no to things you don’t believe are right for your business to your employees or customers. This year, make it a goal to get more comfortable with the word ‘no’ and stick up for what you believe is right.

Give up control:

Many times you may find that you are constantly trying to take control of everything going on in the business and end up becoming overwhelmed easily. Place more trust into your employees by letting them figure out things on their own, first, instead of trying to fix things yourself.

 

 

“A Year in Search 2015”

If you haven’t done so yet, you must watch “A Year in Search 2015,” a video that features the main worldwide events of 2015 and the questions they arose on Google Search.

The video shows a variety of clips from all the main events to hit the news this past year. It demonstrates events from the Syrian refugee crisis all the way up to the black/blue, white/gold dress crisis that had tormented humanity around the world.

In the background, the audio from Caitlyn Jenner’s moving ESPY Awards speech about overcoming all adversaries and moving along to greater things plays along. A very appropriate audio, this is, as we have all witnessed some difficult moments around the world and have worked to become more unified to overcome those moments.

The top 3 global questions that arose from the Paris Attack were:

  1. What happened in Paris?
  2. Why did ISIS attack Paris?
  3. Is it safe to travel to Paris?

Aside from the crisis, though, there were many great 2015 moments featured in the video like Queen Elizabeth II’s grand milestone, the discovery of water in Mars, and the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Here are the top 5 entertaining questions that came about these amazing events:

Queen Elizabeth II’s longest-reigning British monarch—Top Questions in the UK:

  1. How old is the Queen?
  2. Where does the Queen live?
  3. Why does the Queen have two birthdays?
  4. What does the Queen do?
  5. How much is the Queen worth?

The discovery of water in Mars:

  1. Is there life on Mars?
  2. Is there life on other planets?
  3. Are aliens real?
  4. What do aliens look like?
  5. Is there water on Mars?

Release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens:

  1. What order should I watch ‘Star Wars’?
  2. Who is Kylo Ren?
  3. Is Luke Skywalker Kylo Ren?
  4. When do ‘Star Wars’ tickets go on sale?
  5. Who is Finn in ‘Star Wars’?

Click here to watch the Google video: https://www.google.com/trends/story/2015_GLOBAL