Are you making these common press release writing mistakes?

Are you making these common press release writing mistakes?

Press releases are a very important tool that helps companies all over the world reach journalists who have the ability to convert your press release into newsworthy articles and significantly multiply your audience.

Over the last decade or two, press releases have been overused to the point that it is more and more difficult to effectively reach media contacts who are bombarded with information. Because of this infiltration and the fragmentation of both offline and online media, it is more imnportant than ever to make sure your press release stands out from the crowd.

Here are 5 commonly made mistakes to avoid with the best practices fix for each.

1. Title is too long and fails to grab attention. The title of your press release could be the most important part. If that fails to grab the attention of the journalists you are targeting, it doesn’t matter what is in the body of the release. Copyblogger reported that while about 80% of people read headlines, only about 20% go on to read the rest of the story. Think of old school, newspaper headlines. The grammar does not have to be perfect, as long as it makes sense. Do not let your title run on, make it short, pungent and to the point. Leave a little longer description for the introduction section. The title should give the reader a reason to want to continue reading or click through. Include trendy words but leave out the business jargon. Keep your keywords first in the title. Once you are done with the press release, go back and rework the title, make sure you kept on topic, as now you will have a better grasp on the title.

2. Press release is too long and doesn’t explain the bullet points. Remember that reporters and journalists are busy, just like the rest of us. On top of that, they likely get pitched hundreds of times a day. Think about what makes your news different and how will it help them succeed to reach their goals? Be careful not to mix up interesting read with creative writing. Do not wind into your story, be short and to the point.

3. Your press release isn’t newsworthy. Press releases had lost their way for a while. With so many companies gaining digital access to journalists and online press wires, they became an “every day” thing. While news happens every day, posting your news every day from a commercial standpoint is not advantageous. Again, think of the journalists, how busy they are, and whether or not your story can benefit them and fit in their goals of reporting news. A sale is not news. For businesses, a special event, a groundbreaking new product, a new hire, a new development or a move could be considered news, but make it interesting and choose an angle; that could be local angle, human interest, technology, etc.

4. Your press release is too promotional. Leave the promotional terms out of your press release. You are probably used to writing sales copy for your website, catalog, sales pitches, etc. Leave those types of words and that entire mentality out of a press release. Words like “best price”, “sale”, and other promotional descriptors should be left out of press releases altogether. Instead approach it from a news angle, use statistics and specific details that journalists can grab onto.

5. You’ve repeated content that is old news. Each press release should be hyper focused and not include content from older releases or about other subjects. Do not recycle any old content from a previous release. The only common thing in your press releases should be the boiler plate, which is the “about” section at the bottom that tells the reader briefly about your company and gives the contact information should they want to get in touch for more information.

Press releases can be an excellent part of your advertising and media strategy. However, it has to be done correctly. All too often companies abuse the idea of a press release just because it is easy to send one on the digital wires. As a result, journalists are inundated with media pitches and yours must be in perfect shape to cut through the clutter. You can do this by avoiding the common mistakes we discussed today and taking the pointers of how to come up with a great media release that will successfully appeal to the journalists you target and help get extra reach and exposure for your company.

Elizabeth Victor is Brand Advisor for Isentia. She enjoys sharing tips on PR measurement, as well as media monitoring and analysis.

Photo: Newspaper tablet via Shutterstock



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