When writing a press release, your first goal should be to have someone actually read it—not just the headline—but the ENTIRE release.
Here are some mistakes to avoid to having a newsroom editor hit the delete button:
1) Don’t be too wordy: The who, what, where, when and why of a press release is sufficient and you can even set it up in bullet points. For example:
What: Holiday Bazaar
When: January 10, 2014
Where: 123 Main Street, Anytown, USA
Why: To raise money for the Homeless Mission
Who: Sponsored by (your business) with address and contact information.
You can also add more information to the “why” section to plead your case as to why it would be a great media opportunity.
Your press release is too long: This ties into your press release being too wordy. If your press release is more than one page, chances are it is too long. You should be able to say everything you need on one page. If you need a second page, that should contain the contact (who) information.
Know the difference between advertising and news. Don’t try to pass off advertising your business or product as “news.” If you have a grand opening or are releasing a new book (product) and want news coverage, find an angle to help sell the story. The “doors opening” isn’t a story.
Misspelled words: There is nothing worse that receiving a press release with a number of misspelled words. That’s why it’s so important to check your grammar and spelling.
No follow-up: You can’t rely on a single fax or email to get the press coverage you may be seeking. It is in your best interest to follow up with the newsroom assignment editor to not only make sure they received your release, but another follow-up closer to the date of your event to see if they will be covering it. If not, then offer to provide them with a video clip or photos.
Finally, Understand your local media to make sure you’re getting information to the right people at the right time. Call up the news desk and ask what email address is the right one to send your press releases to and what time of day/week they prefer to receive them to make sure you meet their deadlines.