When editing press releases, I flinch at these two common errors

Sometimes, when I am not the one writing the press release for a company, clients and friends would request me to take a look at their work before they pitch it to the newspapers. Some drafts are outstanding while others need a major overhaul to the point that I would end up rewriting them. The latter case is personally uncomfortable; the press release is not my own work after all. 

Here are two common errors I found in the press release drafts I read (and being a lover of words, it is a natural reaction to flinch—quietly, that is):

1. Not newsworthy enough

This means your press release is too promotional. If we put a ratio, it’s 70 percent about you and 30 percent about how your product will significantly affect the lives of your customers. This scenario is distressingly obvious when the press release is titled with something that goes like “Free make-up promo for June brides” then starts off with the company background that is lifted from the company website. 

Ask yourself the impact of your event or product before you start typing your heart out. If you recently topped off a tower in your real estate development ahead of schedule, what is its significance to excited clients who already reserved units? If you invited an expert to talk about entrepreneurship to students, what was the expert’s advice to them?

Think from the reader’s perspective. How will your information affect their lives? Then hit the balance between newsworthiness, informative, factual, and promotional without making your press release too short or too long for your readers to parse.

Also, some company writers in charge of press releases often forget the power of quotes. They are reliable and credible source of key messages that you can push to editors and reporters. As such, it is only right to use them wisely. By wisely, I mean not too many of them and no use of annoying words that could flop your message (e.g., “Our product is so damn useful for people with smartphones.”). When you do use quotes, keep them upbeat and direct to the point. 

2. No contact details

The obvious difference between a press release and a news report is that the former provides contact details towards the end of the article, a noticeable call to action. It can be as simple as “For more information, please contact this person through this number” or as easy as “To avail of this promo, visit our Facebook page.”

Somewhere through the process of drafting the press release, some company writers forget this important tidbit. You may be using your company letterhead that is complete with glaring contact details but as long as those details are not incorporated in your story, the editors will not include them. Then you will have missed your chance for increased customer engagement. 

Conclusion 

Press releases for newspapers, while it’s a traditional form of spreading news, still work. Newspapers have a circulation base you can tap for your product or event and it boosts word of mouth. It’s just a matter of creating the effective press release that carries your key messages and directs your readers on where to go after they have read about what you can do for them.

If you still need help in press release writing, or you wish me to write your company’s press release, please send me an email: nrcudis@gmail.com.