Three classic mistakes with press releases

So you have some news about your company or organisation and you’re desperate to get it out there via the local press.

You spend a couple of hours honing the copy and then press send to fire it off via email to the newspaper which covers your patch or the magazine which writes about your industry.

And you wait. Hoping it has captured the imagination of the journalist who has picked it up at the other end.

Breaking news graphic


Sometimes the wait can seem like forever. And in many cases this is because the press release you lovingly created has been swiftly deleted.

There are many reasons why newspapers and magazines decide not to carry your news and here are three of them:

1 Gobbledygook

You’ve baffled the journalist by using industry talk and phrases only someone working in your industry would understand.

If you read any newspaper story you’ll notice it is written in plain English. Tell your news as though you are explaining it to someone who knows nothing about your industry.

Using trade terms might work in a magazine which covers your sector but even then it is advisable to write your press release using simple language. It can always be dressed up and edited by the journalist who handles it.

2 Quotes using words no one would ever use

The quotes supplied in a press release can often make or break it. And the key here is to use words which someone would use in everyday speech.

For example –

John Smith, CEO of Better Buys Supermarkets, said: “We commenced this new project back in December. I am most gratified by the response of our patrons to it.”

No one would ever talk like this, even the poshest aristocrat!

Mr Smith should have been quoted as saying:

“We began the project back in December. I am really pleased with the response of our customers to it.”

3 Continued mention of the company name

The sole reason a journalist is likely to use your press release is that the news is interesting and not because of the business it has originated from, however wonderful it may be.

local newspapers

The name of your organisation should be name-checked early in the article. And then never mentioned again, if at all possible.

Here is an example of a badly written press release:

Jerrybuilt Builders has started work on a new development of 55 family homes on the outskirts of Oxdown. A team of construction workers from Jerrybuilt Builders were on site early this morning. A spokesperson for Jerrybuilt Builders said the scheme was expected to take 10 months to complete.

It only needed saying at the start that Jerrybuilt Builders was the building firm involved. Continued use of the company name is likely to plant a negative seed in a journalist’s mind that you are merely seeking free publicity for the business rather than telling an important community story.

If you need help writing press releases for your business or organisation click HERE

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