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Press Release Writing Tips and Common Mistakes

Grabbing the media's eye with a good press release seems like a simple task, but in reality - journalists receive hundreds of emails every week. Winning their attention requires a bit of finessing and extra effort.


If you want to share news about yourself, your business, or an event, follow these three simple tips to write a press release journalists will actually read.


Craft a Catchy Headline


Make sure your headline explains what is newsworthy about your story, and don't use too many characters. If the headline reads like a complete sentence, you run the risk of the reporter's eyes glazing over. A good rule of thumb is to keep the headline fewer than ten words.


If you're having trouble coming up with a good headline, do a quick Google search of your topic (for example, if you're announcing a new restaurant opening, search "new restaurant" and click on the news tab) and check out related media reports. You're likely to find inspiration for your own press release.


Avoid Boring and Basic Quotes


As a journalist, one of the most common press release mistakes I saw was cookie-cutter quotes. When I left the news business and took on my first corporate marketing role, I quickly realized why it was happening. CEOs hardly ever write their own quotes. I know this because I've ghost-written dozens of them -- and made the same mistake of rehashing old sentences into new releases.


Instead of inserting a basic quote about how "excited" or "thrilled" you are about [your story], use that precious real estate to explain the impact of your story. Of course you should be thrilled about your news; that is the entire point of writing a press release! I promise you; a reporter will be much more likely to reach out if you give them meaningful content they can use.


If the who/what/where/when/why of your press release is your meat and potatoes, then the quotes are the spices -- and no one wants an unseasoned press release.


Write a Personal Note


As previously mentioned, reporters receive hundreds of emails in their inboxes every week. Many field reporters use email as their primary communication function with producers back in the newsroom. While there is no guarantee your press release will get noticed, there is one major (and effortless) thing you can do to help it stand out in the crowd.


Write the reporter a personal note. Yup. It's that easy.


Instead of just sending a blanket email to multiple reporters with your update, take a moment to send separate emails and greet each journalist personally. Include a sentence or two about why they may find your press release newsworthy, and offer yourself up to assist with any follow-up questions or potential interviews. Being kind and accommodating will go a long way!


Still stumped on how to write a press release that will grab the media's attention? Reach out to me at olivia@olivia-mancuso.com for a free 10-minute consultation to see if I can help your business make headlines!


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