5 Common Press Release Mistakes — And How to Fix Them

5 Common Press Release Mistakes — And How to Fix Them

Jamie Dalton   |     July 25, 2022

PR pros have used the press release to communicate information for well over 100 years. And although it has seen some changes, the point of a press release remains the same: to provide information or make an official announcement to the public through the media.

Creating a press release doesn’t automatically generate news. A release must pique the interest of media, who then amplify that news to the masses. To catch – and keep – their attention, here are five mistakes to avoid in writing a press release. 

1. Releasing information that’s not newsworthy

It’s difficult to temper a client or colleague’s excitement when they want to share your organization’s news with the world. Before you draft a press release, think of the five key Ws:   
-    What’s new?
-    Who would care about this? 
-    Why would they care about this?
-    Where (and how) should I release this information?
-    When is the best time to release this information?

If you can answer the questions above with substance, proceed with a release. Otherwise, it’s best to hold off until you have newsworthy information to share.

2. Burying the lede

Journalists are busy people. If you can’t capture them quickly, they’re on to the next thing. Include the most important information in the first paragraph of your release and the supporting details in subsequent paragraphs. While you’re at it, resist the temptation to make the headline too clever or mysterious; it needs to convey the key point of the release. 

3. Straying from straightforward 

Superlatives, unverified statements and excess jargon all have the power to turn audiences off from you and your brand — permanently. Your release should be clear, concise, understandable and verifiable. 

How can you ensure a release passes the sniff test? Have a non-expert colleague or friend review the release. Do they get what you’re trying to convey? Do they have unanswered questions?

If this is not an option, go through the release, paragraph by paragraph, and ask: 

  • Is everything in this release factual and provable? This includes backing up claims like “leading,” “number one” or “in-demand.”
  • Could someone outside my work or industry understand this? Or am I using terms or abbreviations only an insider would know?

4. Quotes that say nothing  

Quotes are not a throw away. Increase your chance of pickup by including valuable information that adds to your release and sparks interest in the quoted person as a potential media source. 

While we’re on the topic of quotes … For many release writers, the default quote begins with “We’re thrilled” – to announce a new product, to win an award, or to partner with a new company. Avoid the “T” word at all costs. Few journalists will be “thrilled” to publish a quote that says someone is “thrilled.” 

5. Forgetting photos, links or SEO 

Readers should be able to engage with information on a deeper level. To support this, a release should include clickable links to the organization, product, initiative and/or event, plus a clickable call to action. It should be search engine optimized, and it should include relevant images. Failing to include any of the above could lead to fewer pickups and less content engagement — even when you get everything else right.

All this said, your press release should be part of a larger media relations strategy. As a full-service Cleveland communications & PR agency, Falls & Co. offers 30+ years of media relations experience, with a laser focus on helping you demonstrate your value to employees, customers, investors, the media and other constituents. Contact us to find out what we can do to boost your brand.

Jamie Dalton

Jamie Dalton is a vice president at Falls & Co., where she’s spent 15 years elevating prominent brands such as Moen, Vitamix, and the InterContinental Hotels Group, as well as non-profit and civic organizations. She has a proven ability to develop and implement strategic, award-winning marketing campaigns which, of course, include killer messaging and creative copy.