Many marketers get excited when they send out their press releases. They have a message that they eagerly want to share with the world. Unfortunately, they don’t always follow the generally accepted rules on how to write a press release. Here are some of the most common mistakes, and how to avoid them.
1-It isn’t newsworthy
Some press releases are really ads in disguise. Be sure what you are writing about really is new, such as a product launch, special event, and so on.
You want your headline to grab attention, but you must never use “false advertising” and make it seem as if your press release is about one thing when it is about something else. Think of your headline as a promise to the reader which you must live up to.
2-It’s all about you
Well, of course, it is, most marketers would say, but in order to get media pickups, the content should be useful to your target audience, as well. Images, video, informative quotes, and facts, figures and statistics can all help you lift your press release above the usual hype.
3-Too much hype
Speaking of hype, avoid it. A press release should be factual. Avoid inflated language, all capital letters, and exclamation marks.
4-The headline is too dull
Having said that, the one area you can use hype strategically is in your headline. You want to grab attention and make people want to read the press release. Use a word related to your niche or industry if you can, and a strong verb.
5-The press release does not fulfill the promise of the headline
While it is true you want your headline to grab attention, you don’t want to mislead your potential audience. If you’ve ever clicked on a headline or link online and been disappointed in the content you found because it did not match what you expected, think how frustrating that can be, and don’t do it to journalists or your audience. Consider the headline a promise you have to keep within the content of the press release.
6-You’ve left out something important journalists need to know
This can be very frustrating too for busy journalists who are on deadline. They might be interested in your press release, but not have the time to follow up with you to get the information they are missing. Use the 5Ws of journalism checklist to help you make sure you don’t leave out the essential facts:
7-There’s no image
Studies have shown that press releases which include media are more likely to get pickups than ones that don’t.
8-The press release is written in the first person, not the third
The first person is I or we. News stories are written in the third person, he, she, it or they. The only exception would be if you had a direct quote from someone.
“We at Company X are pleased to announce,” would be incorrect. It sounds too much like a sales pitch. The correct format would be. “Company X (It) has announced the release of a new white paper about Y topic.”
9-There are errors in it
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling all count. Triple check it in your word processor and on paper before uploading your press release to a distribution service.
10-It’s not the right length
If it is too short, it won’t be able to provide all the details, plus quotations, information about your company, and contact information for journalists to follow up if they need to. If it is too long, you risk boring readers and therefore getting fewer pickups. The ideal length is between 400 and 500 words.