5 press release mistakes PR pros should avoid

While writing a news story for your brand isn’t a craft for the weary, avoiding these common pitfalls will help you stand out against the competition and get covered.

There’s no glamour in writing press releases.

It’s not sexy. It’s not terribly exciting, either. And there’s no fame and fortune waiting for a press release writer. But make no mistake; there absolutely is an art to writing great press releases.

When you’re competing against hundreds of other press releases trying to grab a reporter’s attention, you’d better hope you didn’t make any of these annoying mistakes when writing your release:

1. Taking way too long to get to the point. There’s not a reporter out there who isn’t pressed for time. If your press release takes three or four paragraphs to get the point, your story has zero chance of getting covered.

You need to be able to explain the key takeaway of your story in the headline and first couple of sentences before diving into the specifics.

2. Not explaining why the news is important. Context is incredibly important when writing a press release.

You can’t just assume the reporter will understand why your news is so significant, because it may not necessarily fall under his or her main area of coverage. You need to make it clear not just what the news is, but also why it’s important and needs to be covered.

3. Using hype words to oversell the story. While it’s important to sell why your story is important, you still have to remain unbiased and factual when writing a press release.

Avoid overselling your press release with buzzwords like “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking.” You’re writing a press release, not an advertisement.

And if a reporter sees that your press release is littered with sales speak, he’ll roll his eyes and trash it.

4. Speaking to everybody while appealing to nobody. When writing a press release, it’s best to pretend you’re writing to one specific person.

Every press release has its own unique audience, and the better you can speak directly to that audience, the more effective you’ll be at getting your story out. Rather than trying to tailor your release to everyone, making it so generic that no one cares, put some thought into it and focus on speaking to a specific audience.

In other words, take the sniper approach over the shotgun approach.

5. Leaving out key information. While your press release doesn’t need to include every possible detail remotely related to your story, it should be thorough enough that no key information is left out.

The reporter needs enough information to determine if the story is worth digging deeper into. Include the most important details, link to more info on your website if necessary, and for the love of all things holy, make sure to include your contact information at the end so reporters can reach you.

What are some other annoying press release writing habits that belong on this list?

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and the PR Fuel blog, where a version of this article originally appeared . Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics, a must-read for the up-and-coming PR Professional, and follow eReleases on Google+, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Topics: PR

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