Bad press release mistakes (and how to fix them, with examples)
Your press release is the foundation of a successful PR strategy, but most of the releases we see fall far short of remarkable. Whether you’re writing your first press release or your 1,000th, sometimes it is good to evaluate your process.
PR Daily has identified the 5 worst press release mistakes to avoid and we have offered some solutions. Below is a guide to crafting a press release that’s powerful, relevant, and gains visibility for your brand, while avoiding some of the bad press release headlines, formatting mistakes, and flow problems that we often see.
We've also included examples of our solutions in action. We didn't want to include poorly written press release examples or bad press release headlines because it felt a little bit mean and that's just not our vibe. But we did include examples of our solutions in action, so you can see what good press release examples look like!
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1. Lack of Focus
Many writers try to cram too many themes into one message, with the intent of appealing to multiple audiences.
Whether this happens because you don't have time or because you don't know enough about who you are sending the information to, it doesn't change the outcome: a bad press release that means nothing to anyone.
Decide on what your one goal is for the press release and really hit it home. If you have multiple goals, either make a hierarchy to contain your writing or simply write different releases for your different audiences. The angle of a story really depends on who you are writing it for, so take the time to get to know your contacts and what really resonates with them.
Example of a focused press release:
Mercy Ships share the news a fantastically generous donation that allows them to continue the work they do. The message is clear, concise, and focused.
2. Unnatural, stiff writing
From the “speed bump” that starts many press releases (for example: “Company Name, a global innovator and provider of world-class end-to-end turnkey solutions for ….”) to stilted quotes from execs declaring their excitement about some sort of mumbo-jumbo, many press releases are the antitheses of natural, interesting writing.
PRDaily identifies that this is a real problem because it drives a wedge between you and your audience and can also penalize you on search engines. SEO aside, what you really want is to connect with your audience and get coverage... and that requires some storytelling skills. When you start to write, know your audience and tailor your tone to their needs.
Keep in mind that you even journalists don't want to read boring copy that sounds like it was written by a robot. Relating corporate information doesn't have to be stiff. You can write like a human being and make it interesting to read by other human beings.
Example of a press release with natural writing:
Thrive Senior Living announces its fun equestrian collaboration using quotes, playful language, and even a video. A press release doesn't have to be boring to be informative!
3. One-dimensional formatting
Many news releases are written as though they’re going to be read off a sheet of typing paper, and not a fluid and interactive environment.
For this one PR Daily does offer up a solid solution:
The simple act of embedding an anchor text link creates a call to action, inviting interested readers to take the next step and visit the Web page you suggest...Easy formatting changes such as using bulleted lists and bold-text paragraph headers capture attention when folks scan your content, and make it easy for socially connected readers to discern key messages and share them on social networks.
It is so important to remember how people consume media and how pressed for time your contacts are. Giving them scannable information is very important in making sure they even read your text at all. This will also allow you to really focus your reader on the original goal you had in mind.
A press release example of dynamic formatting:
flydubai announces its upcoming holiday packages with beautiful images and formatting that make it easy to read with clear CTAs and links.
4. Too many embedded links
Before you go on a linking spree after being inspired by item No. 3, please heed this caveat: A link or two in a press release is great, but too many links in a body of text can have dire consequences for that content’s visibility...They're annoying...
Choose your links wisely. Does it align with your original goal? Is it relevant to your target audience? Is there a better way to deliver that information that doesn't involve them leaving your press release? If it doesn't add value, cut it out.
An example of a press release with great use of links:
Railbookers includes links, but doesn't overwhelm their press release with them. Too many links can distract from the message, but the right amount of links can make your press release even more effective.
5. No visuals
The importance of visuals in PR campaigns and press releases really can’t be overstated, but the majority of press releases issued over commercial newswires today are still plain text, even though multimedia press releases generate better results.
Visuals and interactive media will grab attention, so don't neglect them. These are shareable and engaging. Embed your content directly into your best press release or provide access to it within your pitch email. To avoid the same problem as the embedded links issue above, just remember to include content that is relevant to your main audience and goal for the release.
An example of a press release with stellar images:
L'Occitane showcases its gorgeous product line with beautiful images that don't go overboard.
Can you see the theme here? Taking the time to know and grow your audience will be paramount to your success, and help prevent you from putting out bad press releases. Building relationships is the key to success in PR and will help you overcome all these problems.
Learn how you can build better relationships and write better press releases with Prezly.