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10 most common mistakes to avoid in writing a press release

Thu Dec 4 13:27:00 2014

"News reading always starts with a headline and very often ends already there. Does your news offering stimulate your reader to proceed to the first paragraph?"

News release is a great opportunity to remind our target audience about our brand via news media. Therefore, no wonder that those, who understand its benefit, invest into this PR channel.

Initially news is written for an ultimate press reader, while journalists are the ones who determine whether our material is published or not. A justified question comes here: ”Do journalists really need someone to write news for them?” - Surely, they do! Just because companies' official news is one of the most sustainable sources of information about what is going on ”around”.

On the other side, in order to find an interesting news-brake and deliver quality content to their target readers journalists have to go through dozens of press releases daily.

To assist you in offering high quality material we listed most common mistakes to avoid when writing a press release:

  • Boring headline that does not fully reflect the content. News reading always starts with a headline and very often ends already at this point. Therefore, avoid using cliches and offer your news in such a way that would stimulate your reader to proceed to the first paragraph.
  • Lack of content. Brevity of thought expression is of high value but not at the expense of data that actually consist the news. We recommend to stick to 500 words as your length standard. The first paragraph should answer 5 questions: ”who?”, ”what?”, ”where?”, ”why?” and ”how?”.
  • Using CAPS LOCK to draw attention to key words or phrases.
  • Grammar mistakes. Even the most experienced copywriters sometimes make spelling errors and typos. For this reason proofreading material before offering it for publication is a must. It is a good idea to ask someone else to go through the content with fresh eyes.
  • Advertising. Although news releases are created for PR sake, they are not meant to be direct advertising. Good news release rather informs its reader in a neutral tone. Advertising approach on the contrary aims to sell.
  • Exclamations. Frequent use of exclamation marks, making statements about the product or service, excessive use of such words as "best", "reliable", "most efficient", "free" can create a counter-effect and lower credibility to your text.
  • Direct address. In order to involve the reader some writers address them in second person, using pronouns "you", "your" and ”yours” or represent their company with the pronoun "we". Apart from giving your news release marketing feel, doing so you miss the opportunity to utilise important keywords and phrases. For instance, the pronoun "you" can be replaced with more specific terms describing your target audience, such as, "PR specialists" or "Marketers". Quotations included into press releases are exception in this case. When writing a text of your news release, imagine what someone else is telling your story.
  • Neglecting quotations. In our previous blog post » we spoke in more detail about how to draw readers attention using a quote. However, they should be used with caution since it is the only part in press release that a journalist can not change. Instead of repeating the text a good quote provides more information / facts directly related to the news. Quotes is a good tool to highlight important data and define how company position itself.
  • Going off topic. Trying to squeeze into one news release as much information as possible is quite common mistake. Stuffing the text with keywords, links, dates, names of people and other seasonings might overcomplicate the text making it difficult for understanding. Another extreme is disinformation or providing unverified facts.
  • Not providing contact information. If a journalist has additional questions regarding your news, he should be able to reach a contact person who is aware of news related issues (e.g. an author of the press release). Providing such details as name of a contact person, his position in the company, phone number and email address would be more then enough. Although it is basics that we all know, many journalists share same experience: trying to receive more information from the company they often either cannot reach the contact person or this person in not in charge of their questions.

These are just some examples of mistakes that we believe are the most wide spread. If you can continue the list, please share your experience by commenting on this post.

Service LianaPress » is professional solution for distributing your news to local and regional news media. It insures delivery of news releases to your target journalists and editors including all attachments regardless their size and format.

Request an online Demo or address your questions to our experts »

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