Joan Stewart

Article Summary:

A news release is often your only chance to make a great first impression.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing or Sending a News Release

A news release is often your only chance to make a great first impression.

Newspapers, magazines and trade publications receive them by the truckload. That means sloppy, inaccurate, pointless releases are the first to hit the newsroom wastebasket. To make sure yours isn't one of them, avoid these 7 Deadly Sins:

  1. Providing insufficient or wrong information on your news releases, particularly telephone numbers. Releases must be complete, accurate and specific. (Note: A news release is the same as a press release.)

  2. Writing too long. They should be no longer than a page.

  3. Sending it too late. Mail or fax it to local media at least two weeks before an event, preferably three or four. Major magazines work four to six months ahead of time.

  4. Sending a release with no news value. News is what happens that is different. If it isn't different, it isn't news.

  5. Blatant commercialism. Avoid hackneyed words and phrases such as spectacular, incredible, the only one of its kind, breakthrough, cutting-edge, unique and state-of-the-art.

  6. Omitting a contact name and phone number. At the top of the first page in the left corner, let editors know who they can call if they have questions. Include day, evening and cell phone numbers.

  7. Calling after you send a release. Questions like "Did you get my news release?" or "Do you know when it will be printed?" will brand you as a pest. Don't follow up with a phone call to see if the media got your release, unless you are absolutely sure that someone will check for you. Most reporters and editors don't have time. If you do follow up, make sure you have a reason to call. Suggest a particular angle to your story, or ask the media people if they need any other information.

    Joan Stewart, a.k.a. The Publicity Hound, shows you how to use the media to establish your credibility, enhance your reputation, sell more products and services, promote a favorite cause or issue, and position yourself as an employer of choice. She is a former newspaper editor and reporter who shares the inside secrets of how to create and develop strong relationships with the print, broadcast and online media. Subscribe to her free ezine, "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week," at www.publicityhound.com.

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