A press release forms the foundation of any good PR strategy. But time and time again, companies make no end of press release writing mistakes and miss the mark completely as a result.
From rambling announcements that have no clear focus to spam-style micro-updates and boring press release titles, it’s clear that writing a press release is a skill that not as many people possess as they’d like to think. Granted, there’s a fine balancing act between keeping a press release informative yet also newsworthy and engaging. But, by knowing what to avoid, it’ll be easier to get it right next time.
So, what are some of the common errors you should avoid when writing a press release? Read on to find out!
1. Bland Headline
While you can head to https://www.ereleases.com/how-to-submit/ and have them send out your press release, if you’re doing it in-house, the first step is to start with a captivating headline. Your headline sets the tone when writing a press release, so it’s important to draw the reader in. After all, reporters scan hundreds of press releases every day so without a good hook, your words will remain unread.
Direct and concise is a good start, but offering up your exciting news with an investor-facing tone will come off as dull and boring. Instead, try to inject interest into your press release title by making it feel more conversational and relevant. This way, it’ll be clear from the start how your news relates to your target audience.
2. Lack of Focus
With your snappy headline doing a lot of the work for you, now it’s your chance to run with it and craft a press release that delivers what you’ve promised. But you can only achieve that if you stay focused and to the point.
Decide on the one goal you have for your press release and stick to it. If you have more than one goal in mind, the best way to avoid rambling is to write different releases for different audiences. This isn’t a bad idea anyway, since the angle of your press release depends a lot on who you’re writing it for and how to ensure your content resonates with your contacts.
Keeping it to the point also avoids overstretching the optimal 400-word limit. More than this will likely lose the reader’s attention or could end up confusing them. But less could mean you won’t have the space to include all the relevant facts and follow-up information. Remember, you’ll need an introduction and a body that supports whatever you’ve led with so referring back to your press release title and keeping things tight will ensure your word count doesn’t run over.
3. Forgetting the “Why”
While the focus of the press release is the “what”, i.e. the news sources you’re sharing, forgetting the “why” (the bigger story) in the equation is a big mistake. There might be a lot of internal buzz and excitement about the news but you’ll need to provide context to show those outside the company why the news matters.
What’s more, if your news relates to a positive change such as a company-wide wage increase inspired by a year of global financial hardship, letting people know the story behind it can improve your brand image even more. Pay attention to the market, follow competitor news, and read industry reports to help you shape how you want to tell your story before you write and distribute your next press release.
4. No Visuals
Another way to put reporters and other potential readers off is by offering up a block of plain text with no visual interest. Including press release image content such as photos, videos, and infographics is an instant way to connect with the reader and give them something to identify with. It’s also good SEO for press releases to include images as visuals increase the chance that the algorithm will recommend your content.
Embed any visual content into your press release to ensure that it’s shareable, but always make sure that whatever images you’re sharing are relevant to your release goal and main audience.
5. Not Using Supporting Quotes
While the traditional press release format has changed a lot over the years, journalists still respond best to those that come with a powerful supporting quote.
Including a quote from someone authoritative outside your company adds credibility and personality to a press release. That said, supporting quotes can often trip people up when writing a press release.
First of all, stick to one supporting quote, or two at most. You should also make sure that any quotes you use are concise and informative. Their aim is to underline the main point your press release is making. Any vague references to your company, no matter how positive they are, will come off as out of place and may do more harm than good.
Quotes that are short and snappy also have a better impact than long quotes full of industry jargon. Also, any quote you use should be from an individual rather than a faceless corporation. This ensure it’s personal as well as punchy.
6. Losing Sight of SEO Goals
In the rush to get their exciting news out there, many companies lose sight of how important keywords and SEO for press releases can be.
To make the most of the added attention that SEO can offer, make sure to include keywords in your headline and summary, anchor text, and key terms related to your industry. That said, overstuffing keywords is an obvious no-no as this will end up sounding unnatural and may even cause the algorithm to work against you.
Good SEO for press releases means knowing why you should place certain content in specific sections and how they work in your favor. Make sure you’re clear on the key principles and you’ll soon get the hang of using SEO to your advantage.
7. Failing to Consider Shareability
When sharing your news via a press release, your main goal should be to make others want to do the same. This means optimizing your press release for social media and anticipating how others will spread the word.
Start by ensuring your press release title could work as a standalone tweet by making sure to keep it within the character limits. Incorporate Twitter-ready quotes, multimedia images, and links to your company’s social media accounts and website. By doing all this planning beforehand, you’ll make it easier for the story and related interest to continue for as long as possible.
You should also suggest hashtags that could work as part of a larger campaign or strategy. However, it’s worth considering whether your chosen hashtag could spark an unexpected backlash by carrying out a risk analysis and related research.
8. Press Release Spamming
Press releases should represent important milestones on your brand’s timeline, including launches, special events, and major changes. Send out too many and you’ll end up lowering your credibility and creating a “spammy” image. Your readers do not need (and will not read) press releases that detail every tiny change within your company.
Remember, it might feel relevant to your company but if it’s not relevant to your audience, it’s not news. Save any small updates for your social media pages, the updates section on your website, or your company blog.
9. Bad Timing
Reporters in movies might work round the clock to catch the next hot story. But you can bet that not even the keenest journalists will be hanging around their inbox at the weekend waiting for an update about your company’s new line of salad dressings. Send your press release at the wrong time and you can be sure no one will ever see it, no matter how perfect it is.
To avoid this, industry experts advise that Tuesdays to Thursdays are the best days for press releases. In particular, sending a press release on a Thursday between 10 am and 2 pm means it’s more likely that your target reporters will open and read it.
That said, we live in turbulent times where failing to read the room can make your ill-timed event or announcement come off as insensitive. If there’s a chance of a big news story erupting around the time you send it, trust your doubts and wait. It’s important to take your time and consider how your brand news fits into the greater conversation going on.
10. Spelling and Grammar Errors
While all the mistakes above might make your press release less likely to be read, writing a press release with spelling mistakes and bad grammar means you have next to no chance of even making it past the first hurdle.
There are plenty of free and paid online checking services to make sure there are no typos before you hit send. Or, you could have a professional proofreader check it over for you to make sure it’s good to go.
How to Avoid Common Press Release Writing Mistakes
Are you guilty of making these press release writing mistakes?
While it’s difficult to perfect the art of writing a press release, knowing what not to do can help you avoid repeating the same errors in the future. And before long, crafting an engaging announcement complete with a captivating press release title will become second nature!
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