Getting Releases Right
Press releases are an important part of any public relations strategy and are used to convey important information about a company, organization, or individual to the media and the wider public.
Common keywords that press releases often include the name of the entity being discussed, relevant statistics or other key facts about their business or activities.
Press releases must be written clearly and concisely to ensure they are easily understood by members of the press, who can then report on them more effectively.
But they can be difficult to get right.
Rather than a walkthrough on how to write a press release, we thought it might be helpful to provide some common mistakes so you can avoid them in your press releases.
9 most common mistakes people make when writing a release
1) Not including a headline
Sounds unbelievable, but many press releases fail to include a headline that conveys the purpose of the press release. This is a crucial mistake, as it makes it hard for journalists and readers to quickly understand what your press release is about. Your headline needs to be short and clear, while still providing enough detail to indicate what the press release is about and hook the reader.
2) Information overload
Another common mistake that press releases often make is including too much information. While it's important to provide all of the details you want to highlight about your product or service, this should be done in a concise and organized way. This means avoiding long paragraphs and unnecessary details and focusing on what's most relevant and interesting about your press release.
3) Focusing on company or product promotion instead of the news angle
A press release is used to share news about your company or product, but it's important not to let this promotional focus overshadow the actual news. Keep your press release focused on the news angle and make sure that you're highlighting the most important information without making the release sound like an advert.
4) Jargon and/or complicated language
Nobody wants to wade through a press release that's riddled with jargon and complex language. Even if the release is about a technical subject you never know if the person reading it will be an expert or a layman. Use simple language that is easy to understand and focus on getting your message across clearly.
However, there are certain times when jargon or complex language may be required, for example in matters relating to technology.
5) Not providing contact information
The press release may be embedded in your email, but it's still important to include contact information at the end of the release. A journalist should be able to easily get in touch with you if they want more information or to arrange an interview.
6) Not proofreading before distribution
There's nothing more embarrassing than finding a typo in a press release after it has gone out. Do not solely rely on spellcheck to pick up spelling mistakes. If you were involved in the drafting, making amendments, or revisions, there is a risk you'll miss something. Better to check before than have to issue a correction after.
7) Forgetting to show the currency if using dollars
This sounds minor but press releases issued in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand must detail the currency as USD. State the currency properly and even include the US$ amount in brackets. Always include the dollar sign ($), HKD, AUD, NZD, or SGD to avoid any confusion.
8) Formatting issues
Take care to use the same font throughout, avoid excessive formatting that can ruin spacing, choose left or right justify for paragraphs (not both), include the company logo in the standard position at the top of page one, and ensure all hyperlinks open properly.
9) Sending the press release to the wrong people or distribution channels
We had a conversation with an editor for a marketing trade publication once in which he expressed frustration at receiving press releases talking about boat journeys on the canals in Britain and other holiday activities. "Don't they know I don't cover travel", he thundered. Therefore, it is critical to research and identify the right contacts before hitting "send".
By following these simple tips you can avoid making common mistakes when writing a press release.
Eight Public Relations can work with you to create a properly written and newsworthy press release.