“There’s not enough good news in the world today, so here’s some good news for a change!”
“We have the most exciting, awesome, amazing, super duper new product!!!!”
“We know you’re probably busy working on today’s breaking news story, but stop what you’re doing and listen. This is more important.”
Yes, using any one of the above comments are public relations mistakes that will infuriate rather than excite the person who receives your press release.
And that’s just the beginning. Unless you want your release to be sent immediately to the recycling bin, you should take the time to understand many factors before writing or sending that release.
8 Public Relations Mistakes to Avoid
1. Not telling it like it is
Be straightforward. Don’t try to make a product out to be what it is not. Don’t try to impress the writer with lengthy scenarios or extravagant wording, requiring him or her to dig through your release to figure out what it’s about.
2. Sending a good release at a bad time
Pay attention to what’s going on in the world and local community. Sending a certain release at a bad time might be insensitive, make it appear that you didn’t do your homework, or translate into wasted efforts for an otherwise solid release.
3. Having grammatical errors
Society has learned to accept grammatical mistakes in casual text messages and emails. But that’s not what this is. Your press release is headed to a professional who will catch mistakes. Those mistakes either mean you didn’t care enough to make the press release as perfect as can be, or you genuinely didn’t realize you made the mistakes, which undermines your entire organization.
4. Making it glaringly obvious that you don’t know what you’re talking about
Recipients will be able to read between the lines and know when you’re “wordsmithing” in order to hide the things you don’t know.
5. Sending it to people who couldn’t care less while ignoring the ones who do
This is one of the most important public relations mistakes to avoid for so many reasons.
You might be trying to target the big guy with your press release, but the big guy is inundated with press releases and news stories from all over the world. Your release will probably not even be seen.
If you live in the state of Washington and your press release is about the grand opening of a new local business, managers of a TV news station in Florida don’t care at all. Make sure you don’t waste your time and resources or theirs.
The local news organizations or trade publications are more likely to use your information, so it’s more useful to send it to them.
The local organizations or trade publications have more of the readers or viewers that you are trying to target.
Leaving the local guys out will have them feeling slighted, but those are the people you really want to have a connection with.
6. Insisting they should use your release because their competitor did
And why should they care? They can make their own decisions about what’s newsworthy and what’s not, and when it comes to remaining competitive, that’s up to them, not you.
7. Making them too long
Make them short, sweet, mature, and to the point. Don’t make the recipients work harder than they have to, especially if it’s a simple, basic release about, for example, someone getting a job promotion in your business.
8. Not double checking your facts
As soon as the recipient notices that one fact in your release is incorrect, the recipient will doubt everything in it and start to double check the facts for you beyond what would be expected. That would mean more work for the recipient, and a loss of trust toward you.
Just in case you’re puzzled about the first three statements, here are the public relations mistakes that were made:
- There is plenty of good news out there, every single day! If you say there isn’t, it’s a double whammy against you: You probably aren’t paying enough attention, and you’re insulting the writers’ integrity and daily efforts to tell the good news.
- Your product is probably just fine, but don’t overdo it. And never, ever use more than one exclamation mark. In fact, try to avoid them altogether when it comes to press releases. If you genuinely have a good story to tell, the writer will know it without the bells and whistles.
- Remember to respect that news agency’s time.
One More Public Relations Mistake: Not Getting Help
Today’s definition of public relations is much different than it was 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. With newer technology and methods of communication, public relations encompasses everything from press release writing and addressing problems quickly to content marketing and smart brand growth strategies. For these reasons and more, it’s important to have an experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated print and digital marketing team by your side.