I am not a person that reads press releases simply suck because they are soulless. A press release feels like a copy and paste and one of the things that turns me off from them is that you have no clue who wrote them.
The focus should always be on the news they are delivering but having a written piece of content and no author makes the piece feel generic and anonymous and that isn’t good. The press release is primarily for journalists and editors to find news to cover but knowing who wrote them to me puts a face, a voice to a company which I think would be helpful to the media and the public.
A press release still has to tell a story with facts, all the who, what, where, when, why and how with an understanding of the right tone. I would say that tone is the hardest part to get right because you want as many people to read it as possible and being written for everyone means being written for no one. I would rather read something that narrows the scope through voice and tone than one made to feel like it was just like everything else. That is the dichotomy these types of releases face.
I feel that if you need to write a press release distil it down to the primary facts, a good quote (or two) and be written for the lay person, aka someone who isn’t versed in that specific industry. It isn’t a blog and shouldn’t be written as one but its voice needs a personality that reflects the firm, the message, and feel like it came from person not a an anonymous company.
The balance between facts and tone is not easy to get right and you will probably never hear a press release in a negative tone but maybe that is another issue in it of itself. When you read news you want to hear the different sides and press releases are written to avoid or mitigate those issues. They are inwardly confident but usually outwardly ignorant.
Include 3rd party information and when you know there are issues take the most critical ones and answer them instead of ignoring their existence because that is what will show true confidence, where ignoring the facts and issues shows the opposite. Press Releases are written to help a company get covered by the media but I find they are less relevant today than ever because of blogs, and the avalanche of media that exists today.
I hope that their time is coming to a close but I wonder what will take their place. I can only hope that the death of the press release comes swiftly as the net matures further, I am sure that there will be many a news organization that will grab a drink when that happens.