Top 10 Press Release Mistakes

There are good reasons why some press releases generate a journalistic frenzy and others fall flat. You can learn a lot about how to write and distribute great press releases by examining some of the common public relations mistakes companies make. Don’t let your press release fall victim to any of the following pitfalls.
1. A Bad headline
Why ruin your news release before anyone’s even had the chance to read it? Your headline is your chance to make a first impression. This is what will draw in the journalist to want to know more. Many press releases are quickly dismissed simply because the headline wasn’t intriguing enough or didn’t give the reader enough valuable information. A good headline should give the reader enough information to know the general idea of the press release, but leave unanswered questions that require the reader to continue down the page.
2. Written in third person
A press release is supposed to be representative of the company or individual about whom it is written. Releases written in third person using words like “He,” “She,” “They,” and “It,” not only show a lack of professionalism, but also appear very cold and impersonal.
3. Spelling errors
Spell check is your friend. So is good, old-fashioned proofreading. Read over your news release with a fine-toothed comb and ensure that no spelling mistakes or grammatical error exist. Remember, this document is supposed to be representative of your company and personal brand. You don’t want your release to be dismissed as amateur simply because you were careless in the editing process.
4. Too long
In the world of PR, brevity is your friend. Journalists and news desks are busy. They want their information quickly and delivered in a nice, bite-sized package. Chances are, if you can’t write a compelling story in less than 500 words, perhaps a press release isn’t the right method to disseminate your message. A news release that is pages and pages long is very likely to be ignored.
5. Using company jargon or overly technical words
Write your press release so that anyone who reads it can understand the basic premise of the story you’re pitching. A person shouldn’t need a post-doctorate education in physics to decipher the words of your release. Make it an easy read.
6. Too sales-y
Nothing turns off a new editor like a press release full of sales copy. Yes you are trying to gain media attention and promotion for your product, company, or service, but it’s important that your press release provides value to a journalist. Why would they want to write about this topic? Is it interesting and does it have a good angle? There needs to be an angle beyond you trying to pitch your product.
7. Bad-mouthing competition
Under no circumstances is it ever good form to make a jab at or say something defamatory about another company or individual in a news release. A release should be about you and your company and no one else. Keep the focus in the right place. The Internet is irrevocable so once your press release hits the virtual newswire, it’s nearly impossible to take those words back. Choose your words wisely.
8. Run-on sentences
Sentences with more than 25 words become difficult to comprehend. The reader can end up confused and completely miss the message you are attempting to communicate. Keep your sentences brief and succinct. Don’t overly complicate things by packing your release with over-stuffed sentences.
9. False claims or half truths
Always under promise and over deliver. There are ways to communicate the excitement and grandness of your message without making exaggerated claims. Claiming your product is the most amazing product ever created doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the reader. Always be honest in your release.
10. All caps
The only place in your press release that should ever be all caps is the city and date. Beyond that, it appears unprofessional to include excessive caps in a news release. Remember to use words to express excitement, not caps.
A press release that is absent of any of the aforementioned errors is well on its way to success.