There is no shortage of “how to” press release articles available on the Internet today. With all the instructions for what to do, sometimes it can get confusing. Sometimes you may have all the correct elements but need to know what not to do in a press release. The ability to edit your own work is critical when you’re on a time crunch and when you’re aware of the “don’ts” you can have more confidence in what you have written and how you present it. By going through a quick list of dos and don’ts after writing a press release, you can help ensure your work has the opportunity to go viral and reach millions.
Elements to Avoid in a Press Release
While there is no complete list with every no-no in the world of press release examples, there are some easy elements to avoid and to cross off of your list. One of the best ways to write an article is to just start writing, and after you’ve said everything necessary, go back and edit. This can mean cutting down the words, rearranging the paragraphs, and going through this quick list of things to avoid.
Yes, you are writing about something news worthy but no, you don’t need ten exclamation points. The hype should be in the content itself, not in the excessive punctuation or filler words. Don’t overuse words like: free, limited time offer, act now, awesome, and repetitive words such as very, very, very. The spam filters will catch these quickly and the readers will associate your piece with a used car sales person approach and probably be turned off.
Ignoring junior high English class
You took the class; why not practice what you learned? Marketwire lists grammar as #1 of its 7 most common PR pitfalls. Your teachers didn’t drill punctuation, syntax, and spelling into your head for no reason; they wanted you to be a successful writer, so make them proud! Check your grammar and spelling at least three times. It can be helpful to have a colleague read over the piece too to check for grammatical problems. Be sure to do the same for them when asked.
Answer the questions of the reader. Think back to a press release of the past and answer the five questions of: who, what, when, where, and why. Your reader should know exactly what they read but also want to learn more by your direction to a website or person of interest.
Talking directly to the reader
Write in the third person. Use descriptive titles such as: the real estate agent, the welder, the singer, instead of you, or your agent. The audience may pick up the “you” pronouns as advertising, and that is not the case.
A press release is sharing information but should be written in a professional manner. Read your piece out loud and if it would fit in right after the commercial for “Magic Putty,” you may want to rewrite it. Press releases are promotional but not gimmicky.
This list may seem simple enough, yet it is violated on a regular basis. Browsing the internet you will see pieces written with titles that are ALL CAPS or followed by unnecessary punctuation!!!!!! While these may be legitimate press releases, be wary while reading them and understand the source.
While learning what NOT to do, it is important to also know what TO do so your press release is successful. In the spirit of balance, here are five tips on positive ways to construct a PR:
Check your title
Does it draw in the reader? Does it make you want to read it? Or could you skim the title and live without reading the rest? You want a reader to be so attracted to the piece that they have to see what the rest of it says; even if they searched that term specifically, they should want to keep reading.
Make it reader friendly
Use small paragraphs so it can be skimmed. Headers, bullets, numbering, separation of large sections are ways to keep it simple and readable.
Stay relevant within the topic
Too many “bunny trails” within the content will cause the reader to turn away from the article with no real grasp on what they just read. It is common in a news release to try to convey too much information and writers often stuff the article full of keywords, information, links, dates, names, and other tidbits that are important but put the reader on overload.
Make sure your links work
Double check any links you may have used in the press release to ensure they work. There are few things more annoying than reading an interesting article and when you click to learn more, the link is broken. Your piece will instantly lose credibility. Your reader will want to double check the date it was written and even who wrote it to see if they are still an expert in the material.
Not Identifying yourself
Your reader should be able to see your credentials and understand why you are writing about this topic. Even if you are not considered an expert in the field, you should still be sure to alert the audience as to your ability to write and gather information on the topic. This is usually accomplished through writing a short bio to go with your name on the press release sites.
Strong writing is the cornerstone of all Internet content but there are some mistakes even the best writers make while constructing a PR. Consider reading other press release examples that have gone from a small publication to the big time presses. What did they have in their piece that you don’t? What is it about their piece that draws in the readers? Add those same elements to your press release and you will have a solid article to begin circulating. With some practice and editing, you can become a master at the press release.