The public relations field is always changing, some pieces of it will never fade away. This includes the need to write a well-defined, forceful and relevant press release. Unfortunately, while press releases are clear-cut, factual and objective, they are not always easy to write. Typically, if you are accustomed to writing pieces other than press releases, you may run into a few problems. Here are my take on mistakes to avoid when writing press releases:
Using a boring headline or title
Media outlets receive dozen of press releases daily – organizations are always searching for way to get free publicity, and releases are a great way to do so. However, with all of these releases coming in, you need to make sure yours stands out to the audience and the journalist you sent your release to. Ensure this by composing a creative, compelling headline that will grab your audience’s attention instantly.
Start with general information
When beginning a press release, you always want to put your most important information first. If you are able to catch your audience’s attention with your title, you need to be able to keep it through the first paragraph, and be able to provide them with the most relevant information at first glance. You should always answer the 5 W’s first – who, what, when, where and why.
Not providing a call-to-action
Simply end your release by encouraging the reader to do something. By calling an action by the reader, you are more likely to receive more action form your intended audience.
Providing too much information
Ever hear the expression that less is more? This is exactly what you have to consider when composing your press release. If you send a media outlet a three-page press release, do you think that would take the time to read it to beginning to end? By hinting on the most relevant information you are tying to disseminate, your press release will be a lot more efficient.
Forgetting contact information
If you forget your organization’s contact information, you’ve pretty much lost all chances of your release getting any media coverage. If your release does get published by media outlets, and does not have any contact information, your audience will not know whom to contact with questions or concerns regarding your event. Also, with social media becoming so popular, including contact information through social media handles, along with the traditional kind, it may provide to be a useful tool.
Writing in the first and second point-of-view
Press releases should always be written in the third person point-of-view; unless inserted into a quote in the body of your release.
With the public relations industry always changing, press releases are a fad that will never disappear. This is why our writing skills always need to be sharp, consistent and ready to go.
Natalie Gloady is a current junior at Waynesburg University, where she is majoring in Public Relations and Sports Information, while minoring in Spanish. She serves as the Public Relations Director for WUPRSSA, and is active in other campus activities. You can typically find her looking at social media, getting coffee, or on the softball field. She hopes to pursue a job in the sports industry after graduation.