4 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Press Releases

Press releases. Hey, remember those?

Yes, even with the increased use of social media by PR pros to inform consumers and the public overall about their brands, traditional news releases are still relevant.

In April, more than 90% of respondents in a PR News/Cision survey said they planned to either hold steady or distribute more press releases via e-mail in 2012. So the digital media era has not completely taken over just yet. Writing effective press releases is still an important skill PR pros need to possess.

With that in mind, we offer the following mistakes to avoid when crafting press releases.

  • Bamboozling the recipient: Unless you were actually engaged in an ongoing conversation, putting "RE:" in a subject line is manipulative. Once your recipient realizes it was only a ploy to get his or her attention, annoyance or rage will be the likely response—not coverage. 

  • Feeding them spam: Certain words trigger alerts for spam filters. Examples of such words are “free,” “you,” “mortgage” and “order now,” says Barbara Ulmi, head of marketing at e-mail solutions company GraphicMail. Complete lists of most frequently used spam keywords are available online. Excessive punctuation (like capitals and exclamation marks) also trigger spam filters. Not only that, it’s a cheap trick: The pitch might be a matter of urgency for you, but is it really so urgent for your target?

  • Become overly social: Twitter and Facebook are popular tools for PR pros, but leave them off press releases. Don’t use news@yourcompany.com as a contact. Use a real person, and add their social profiles.

  • Overdoing links: Embedding a link to your company website gives readers a convenient way to learn more about the products and services you provide. But don’t overdo it. Search engines are suspicious of copy with too many links and may even write your release off as Web spam. Also, some sites convert press releases to plain text, which will result in long, unsightly URLs appearing throughout your copy—a turnoff to human readers.


Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson


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  • Mike Renton

    Pretty useless stuff there. Try 10 points

  • Scott VanDeman

    Another terrible mistake is getting to the point in the third paragraph! I can’t believe how often I see that.

  • Samantha Schelling

    Releases written like essays are my pet hate: they should be approached like a news article.

  • Lester May

    I am sure these points are not useless but I am surprised that RE: is given any time at all. It is a completely superfluous ferw keystrokes and should be avoided by anyone intelligent. That MS Outlook uses it is almost evidence enough that it is plain stupid to use RE: !

  • marty

    Using to many exclamation marks! That’s a surprising one! I always thought the use of exclamation marks was great!!!!

  • Sam

    What do you believe re: means? How is informing the person about what the message is in regard to a ploy?

  • Riya

    I was hoping for some strong info here. Your article shows the level of PR practiced is pretty low.

  • Robert Gołębiewski

    Well – in dinosaur times where discussion forums where main internet communication channels – such posts of little value were perceived to built rank. More posts – higher rank. I do not like such “so general” things. They do not make me think. They do not show “how to on examples” and so on. Funny thing is…a blog on PR using rather worthless information. Worthless for pros.