Perish the PDF for Press Releases

perish the PDF in press releases

Press releases are a great way to get the word out about your brand, your products, your store, your practice, your events, and more. Used correctly, free publicity is a wonderful way to get noticed and to get more patients and customers.

The PDF is a great invention. The Portable Document Format is a terrific way to share information with the final reader of your document in the exact way you want it to be seen. A properly formatted PDF will open and show the images you want how you want them shown. The headlines will be in the specified places in the correct sizes. The text will wrap however you saved them in the font you want. In short, the document will look exactly how you want it to look 999 times out of 1000.

A PDF is a terrible way to share press releases, however. A PDF is static. It is supposed to be. It is to be opened and read precisely as you intended. A press release however is to be reinterpreted, reshared, and often rewritten. A PDF is a pain to any press service you send it to. A press release sent in PDF format will lose on conversion and engagement. Sending out your press releases in PDF format will greatly reduce the chances of your press release ever making it into the newspaper, magazine, or website you want covering your news.

Depending on how you create the PDF you will inadvertently and artificially wrap text in a way that fits your layout, but not those of the print publication or website you are trying to get to share your information. You will be creating extra work for that publication who must strip all the extra coding from your PDF to try and reformat it for their media. Just like in your business, time is money to the newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio stations, and websites you are trying to reach. Forcing them to spend time to try and reformat your text correctly will only give them pause in doing it at all when other stories formatted in a more friendly manner come across their desks simultaneously.

Want your local media to know about a Trunk Show? Don’t send them a PDF. Want to share the opening of a new location? Don’t send the press a PDF about your opening. Want to send your patients or customers the same information? Again, abandon the PDF. In this case, the only PDF you should be creating is one for your printer to use for those same invitations.

The same goes for HTML press releases. We receive regular press releases from a major industry organization extensively formatted in HTML to make their email look great. However, we have to spend an extra 20 minutes for every press release to strip all the HTML formatting so it can be placed in The Optical Journal. We aren’t the only ones who do so. That same press release is stripped of all that coding by every other optical news magazine and blog site too.

Press releases should as a rule of thumb be kept short. Never say in 12 paragraphs what you can say in two. Save the novels for Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or Hemingway. Press releases should always be written in the third person as well, never the first person, unless the first-person narrative is a quote from a company executive or spokesperson.

The press releases we are most likely to use are those sent to us in plain text via email or in Word format. They are easy to copy, paste, and edit. We want to share all the news we feel our readers want to know, but if you make us work too hard to share it, we will often move on to the next story. The same goes for your local newspapers, magazines, and electronic media. The easier you make it for them to share, the more likely they are to share it.

Images should always accompany your press releases as well. The bigger the better. Any publication can always cut down the size of a large image to fit their format, but it is virtually impossible to enlarge something already shrunk down in size.

Never assume the press knows what you are talking about. While you are proud of bringing in the hottest eyewear line around, don’t assume your local media has any clue who you are talking about. Just like most shoppers, the name brands that excite the industry are only known inside the industry. Sharing a few lifestyle and product images will help immensely in getting the word out. We are after all a very visual society. Images are everything anymore, so make sure yours stand out.

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