Writing a news release that gets attention can be difficult in this environment where people are constantly bombarded with information. But there are some best practices you should follow.

Below are seven mistakes you should avoid when writing a news release:

Poor choice of headline. Your headline is the most crucial element of your news release. If it’s not attention-grabbing, no one will read it. When writing a headline, remember:

  • Use the active voice and summarize why this information you’re sharing is important
  • Use a provocative piece of data
  • Answer a vital question
  • Make it emotional or inspirational
  • Make it SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly

It’s written in the first or second person. Your news release is not an ad, nor can it be a narrative. It is supposed to tell the facts of an event or news topic but should never be from your point of view. Using first person (“I” and “me” pronouns) or second person (using “you”) is considered incorrect when you’re writing for the media, so avoid it in every release.

Grammar mistakes. The most embarrassing mistake a writer can make is in grammar, punctuation, or spelling. People can forgive an awkward sentence or even poor information organization, but a grammar error, even a small one, makes you lose credibility with journalists.

Don’t use quotes. A news release almost always needs a quote from a critical person to make it authentic. You can use quotes from your team members or someone affected by the news you’re sharing. The more important the person quoted, the better.

Using the wrong tone for your audience. News releases require a particular style and language that you may not use. While you want your release to be easy to read, you also want it to sound professional to the journalist. It should be in a similar tone you would use to communicate with business professionals. When in doubt, ask a professional writer for help.

It’s too long. Sometimes it’s easy to write too much detail when talking about your business or client. While you want to share everything possible in your news release, a journalist won’t want anything more than one page (typically between 350 to 500 words) of content. Edit your release so it’s short and simple, without losing its crucial elements.

Not including a Call to Action. A news release should motivate readers to take some action, whether it’s visiting an event, purchasing a newly released product, or donating to a charity. If you don’t include a call to action, you’re leaving the reader empty-handed and missing out on an opportunity.

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