Press Release Writing Mistakes You Might Want to Avoid

Press releases are essential for the marketing of your company or brand in the media. You want them to know when you have important news to announce. However, you need your press release to grab their attention and convince them that it’s worth picking up. You don’t want them passing on your announcement because you didn’t craft it properly. Here are some mistakes you should avoid when writing your press release.

Repeating Phrases

Don’t repeat the same phrase from the headline in your subheading or the initial sentence. It can get tedious to read the same thing multiple times, and it creates a sense that your press release lacks substance. You can use certain keywords for SEO purposes, but avoid overstuffing the body of your text with too many instances of the same term. You also shouldn’t simply rearrange a sentence, expressing the same idea as a previously used one just for the sake of filling out a word count quota. Press releases need to say something important in a short amount of time, so make sure every word counts.

Using First-Person Voice

All press releases should be written in the third person. A common mistake is using the first-person voice in order to sound like you’re representing your company or brand. However, most journalists will pass over anything written like this. Don’t use the term “we,” as in, “We at Brand X are proud to announce…” You don’t want it to sound like a sales pitch—it should read like a piece of interesting news about your company or brand. The third-person voice has an authoritative feel that gives readers the sense that you’re a trustworthy source. The only time to write in the first person would be for the purposes of a direct quote. Apart from that, stick to the third person so your press release sounds as professional as possible.

Poor Use of SEO

When writing your press release, you should take advantage of the additional attention you can get from properly implemented SEO. It’s a mistake to not include keywords in the headline and summary, leaving out anchor text, or terms people in your industry are likely to search for. You also don’t want overly long headlines or to use too many keywords, as that can make your announcement sound less natural. There are free press release distribution sites that you find here; they can help you optimize the SEO for your announcements. However, it’s recommended that you still learn the basics of SEO so that you understand the reasons why certain content should be placed in specific sections and their purpose for being included. 

Not Including an Image

When you don’t include a related image in your press release, there’s less of a chance it’ll get picked up. Images give something for the reader to immediately latch onto and identify with. They can give a clearer idea about what you’re announcing than just words can. Having something that can stand out visually to your audience will set your press release apart from the plethora of others that people will have to slog through every day.  It’s also useful for better SEO, as images will increase the likelihood of the algorithm recommending your content.

Making it the Wrong Length

Most press releases should be between 300-500 words, with 400 being optimal. Making it too long can risk losing the reader’s attention. If you’re using a lot of big words and filler content, cut it out to tighten your announcement so that it’s clear and concise. If it’s too short, you may not be able to provide all the necessary information. You’ll need to write an introduction and a body that supports it, because leaving either out will make it seem incomplete. Journalists often see thousands of press releases a day, so you want to be sure they don’t lose interest and ignore or toss it away because they can’t figure out what your announcement is actually about.

Forgetting the Target Audience

While a press release is primarily about your company or brand, you need to keep in mind who you’re writing it for: journalists. You want to drum up interest in your announcement, not necessarily yourself, so inserting too much self-promotion will only hinder that goal. It’s important you don’t waste valuable space in your press release boosting your credentials or offering praise to your company or brand instead of getting across your actual message. Having a professionally written press release will appeal more to them than any other style.

Announcing Unimportant News

Don’t send out a press release for every insignificant development involving your company or brand. They should be relevant to your audience, and not just to you. Things like product launches, special events, and major changes are worthy of being announced, but avoid writing ones for every minor update or routine news. Anything that shouldn’t be in a press release can be shared on social media instead.

Overhyping It

You don’t want your press release to sound self-aggrandizing, so keep it professional. Don’t use over-exaggerated language, all caps, or exclamation points. While you want to catch the reader’s interest, including this type of content can quickly turn them off, resulting in your press release being binned. Most audiences can tell when you’re “trying too hard,” and it tends to leave a bad taste in their mouths. The best announcements use simple language in interesting ways to draw their audience and make them excited about what you’re telling them.

Having a Boring Headline

While you don’t want to overhype your press release, you also don’t want it to have a boring headline. If it’s too dull, readers will pass on it without bothering to look at the actual content. You need to find a good balance between over- and under-selling it. Make it interesting and relevant, but don’t try to overwhelm your audience with unbelievable claims or click-bait phrases. Make sure you clearly express the message you want to convey but do it in a way that will draw people in.

Confusion About Follow Up

When you put out a press release, the point is to generate interest for a specific product or event. Your audience will want to know how to follow up on it, but if that information isn’t included in the announcement, it could create confusion as to how to do that. If you’re releasing a product then give out release dates and where it will be available for purchase. As for events, make sure people know when and where they will be taking place, as well as how to sign up for them. Not having an obvious follow-up method can harm your company or brand’s chances of success.

Including Irrelevant Information

Your press release should be focused on one particular topic, so try not to include information about other things involving your company or brand. Don’t add in details that won’t directly contribute to the message you want to convey. You might be tempted to talk about your company or brand in a more general sense, but avoid that at all costs. In addition, you shouldn’t have anything in there about past or future news concerning your company or brand—just stick to the subject at hand. If you stay on point for the entirety of the announcement, you’ll have a higher chance of successfully catching the interest of a journalist to pick it up.

Leaving Out Pertinent Facts

There are certain facts you must always include in your press releases: who, what, when, where, and why. This will make your message clear to your audience and give them a full understanding of what you’re telling them. You don’t want to leave any of these out, because if a journalist is interested in your announcement, needing unnecessary time to follow up with you in order to get the information could cause them to simply pass on it instead.

Not Utilizing Social Media

After you put out a press release, you should post it on your social media pages to follow up on it. Unlike your press release, you can add in any information that’s more appropriate for a less formal avenue of communication. It’s recommended that you make 2-3 posts about the same subject as your press release, casting a wider net for getting it noticed. Since a press release and social media post targets different audiences, you’ll reach a larger number of people from different demographics, which can only help bring more attention to your company or brand.

Forgetting to Proofread

Having spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors in your press release can cause it to be written off by journalists as soon as they see it. Once you’ve put it out there, there’s no getting it back, so double-check everything to make sure it’s perfect. Remember, these announcements represent your company or brand, so putting one out that’s filled with mistakes will harm your reputation with your audience. It’ll make you seem careless and unprofessional. If you can’t be bothered to proofread your own press release, they’d have no reason to believe your products or services would be held to any higher standard.

Releasing It at the Wrong Time

Releasing your press release at the right time will go a long way towards ensuring that it gets picked up. Journalists don’t work around the clock—they go home at the end of the day just like anyone else. Most won’t bother checking their email accounts for work when they’re not in the office, including on weekends. If you distribute your press release late in the day or over the weekend, it’ll end up buried by every other message clogging up their inbox. You can avoid this by sending it out earlier in the day during the workweek. According to experts, the best time would be Thursdays between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.

Leaving Out Contact Information

Although your press release should include all the necessary information about its subject, journalists may still want to follow up with you for other reasons. They might have questions or need clarifications that you couldn’t have anticipated beforehand. Make sure you give them all your contact information, such as your email address and phone number. You can also include social media accounts that are relevant to the press release, but keeping it to your primary means of communication will avoid any confusion about how you should be contacted.

Not Using Supporting Quotes

A good way to increase your credibility and add some personality to your press release is to include quotes about your product, service, or event. It shows that there are already people outside of your company or brand who support you and are willing to put their reputation on the line to help you get your message out to people. However, make sure any quotes you use are consistent with the context of your announcement. If they’re not directly related to the information in the rest of the press release, it will end up being more damaging than useful.

Failing to Use Proper Formatting

Most press releases should follow the same format: 1-1.5 pages long, 300-500 words, have a headline, subheading, and a body with an introduction that answers the questions of whom, what, when, where, and why. The headline should be short and snappy, immediately grabbing the reader’s attention. Your introduction has to set up exactly what your message is and inform your readers of the pertinent material. The rest of the body needs to explain any further details that back up any claims made in your headline, subheading, and introduction. Don’t make it too verbose, and be sure that any keywords you use can be easily picked up by your audience.

When you put out a new press release, it represents your company or brand to the media and the public who consumes it. Making it as professional as possible is important to gaining the confidence of potential consumers, so they will engage with you. When you’ve finished writing your announcement, double-check to make sure you’ve avoided making the mistakes listed here, so you’ll know you’ve crafted a well-made press release.

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