The 8 Most Common Press Release Writing Mistakes

Getting ready to write a press release to generate coverage for your company? Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), take a look at these 8 common press release writing mistakes. Avoiding them can be your ticket to success.

1. A Boring Headline—When you send your press release out to journalists, you need to remember they’re sifting through hundreds of these releases. The first thing they’ll see on your press release is the headline. If the headline is bland and lifeless, your press release probably won’t even get read.

Your headline needs to immediately grab the reader’s attention. It should be strong and bold, but make sure it isn’t gimmicky or salesy.

2. A Misleading Headline—The only thing worse than a boring headline is a misleading headline. The goal of your headline is to grab the interest of the reader and to clearly communicate what your story is about. Don’t “cry wolf” in your headline just to get the attention of the reader… unless, of course, there really is a wolf.

Here’s a simple way to tell if your headline is misleading. Show only the headline to a few other people. Have them take a guess as to what the story’s about. If they aren’t even close to being right, it’s probably time to rewrite the headline.

3. Hype instead of facts—This is a press release, not an infomercial. Journalists are interested in delivering newsworthy content to their readers. A sales pitch is NOT newsworthy content. Not only will writing your press release as an advertisement cause it to end up in the trash, but it will also damage your credibility with the journalist for a long time to come.

When writing your press release, just stick to the facts. Don’t stretch the truth, and don’t use salesy language. Whenever possible, include statistics and hard proof to back up all of your claims. Be objective but engaging at the same time.

4. Lifeless quotes—It’s always a good idea to use a quote from a reputable source in your press release. This helps to back up your claims, go into greater detail about a certain point, and add a personal touch to the story. However, you won’t achieve any of this if you use stale, lifeless quotes in your press releases. Unfortunately, that’s what most press releases end up containing. Safe, boring quotes that add nothing to the story.

How can you tell if your quote is pointless? If you can remove it without it having any effect on the story, then it’s not adding anything of value.

5. Too much jargon—Get rid of all jargon from your press release. These include industry-specific lingo, and terms only used inside your company. Journalists and their readers won’t understand your jargon.

Instead, focus on using clear language that everyone can understand. Remember, the average newspaper is written at an 8th grade level, so try to keep that in mind while writing your press release.

6. Ignoring SEO basics—With online press release marketing, you can now get more impact from your press releases. See, Google loves press releases. They tend to rank very well in the search engines.

What does this mean for you? It means your press releases need to have keyword-rich headlines, well-placed keywords throughout the story, and keyword-rich back links when allowed. All of this will allow you to increase your search engine presence from your press release marketing efforts.

7. Grammar errors—No better way to look like an amateur than to distribute a press release with grammar errors and other typos. Seriously, it’s not that hard to run a grammar and spelling check. After you do that, proofread it again. It’s also a good idea to let a few other people proofread it too, so that you’ll be bringing fresh eyes to it.

8. Rambling on for too long—Thanks to the internet and social media, news is delivered faster than ever before. Journalists and their readers want their news as quickly as possible.

This means you need to keep your press release short and to the point. Cover all of the necessary details, but don’t throw in anything that doesn’t add to the story. When in doubt, leave it out.

Do you write press releases to generate publicity for your company? Share your best press release writing tips by leaving a comment.

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