10 signs of a horrendous press release

Enticing a journalist or blogger to write about your company or client remains an achievement in the PR business. So make sure you’re doing it right.

When I was in journalism school, I got a big fat F on a paper. My professor liked my story about a couple who had spent three years sailing around the world, visiting more than 30 countries along the way. But I had misspelled “Colombia” as “Columbia,” and at my school, factual errors (she considered it one) slashed 50 points off your score.

I thought it was a little extreme, but the F made me keenly aware of the consequences of mistakes in reporting. When I left journalism for public relations and marketing, I applied the same gun-to-the-head approach to press release writing.

Now about the word “press.” I know press releases are no longer just being sent to the media. Distribution services such PR Web and Business Wire (not to mention Google Alerts, Twitter, Facebook, and other tools people can use to monitor and share content) now allow for a strategy that targets customers directly. David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, prefers to call them “news releases” instead of “press releases,” so it doesn’t sound like they’re exclusively for the press.

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