The Dos and Don’ts of Press Release Writing

When you send out a press release, you’re competing with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other press releases. How can you cut through all this clutter to separate yourself from the pack? Well, like the old saying goes, “Content is king.”

Check out these press release writing dos and don’ts so you can discover the best tips for crafting an attention-grabbing release.

  • Do put effort into writing a catchy headline – Make no mistake. A stinky headline can bury even the most compelling story. That’s why you need to spend the extra time to make sure your headline is as catchy and clear as possible. I recommend brainstorming several headlines so you can find the one that works best. Always remember that clarity is key. Editors and reporters need to know exactly what your story is about just by reading the headline.
  • Don’t write a headline that you can’t deliver on – You’re not going to trick a reporter into picking up your story. So, don’t write a deceptive headline that doesn’t accurately describe the story. Doing so will only anger the reporter and cause you to lose all credibility.
  • Do stick to one topic in your press release – Look, it’s understandable that you have a lot of things you want to say, but you can’t get carried away. Keep your press release as tight as possible by focusing on one main topic. Anything else that distracts from that message should be eliminated. If necessary, this extra information can be used in a separate press release.
  • Don’t make your press release any longer than it needs to be – Remember, editors have an inbox full of press releases that they have to go through. They’re pressed for time. So, keep your press release as short as possible. Long press releases are intimidating and just look like too much effort to read through. I recommend printing out your first draft and using a red pen to cross out any extra words or information that isn’t necessary.
  • Do send relevant, accurate news – Above all else, your story needs to be newsworthy. Whenever possible, tie your story to a current event or trend to make it more relevant. And speaking of relevancy, who you send your press release to is often just as important as what your press release says. Irrelevant pitches are an editor’s #1 pet peeve. So, only send your press release to the outlets that regularly cover stories like yours.
  • Don’t exaggerate or use marketing hype – Press releases aren’t advertisements; they’re news stories. News=accuracy, not hype or over-the-top claims. That’s one of the biggest reasons it’s recommended to hire an outside expert to write your press release, because being too close to the story can make it difficult to separate fact from marketing hype.
  • Don’t make silly mistakes – Finally, don’t send out a press release that has typos or other silly errors. Spend a little time proofreading the release before sending it out. To make sure all mistakes are caught, I recommend letting a few different people proofread it. This brings several sets of fresh eyes, making it easier for those little mistakes to get noticed and corrected.

What are some other press release writing dos and don’ts that you’d add to this list?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

6 Responses

  1. MadaBuzz says:

    RT @ereleases: New blog post: The Dos and Don’ts of Press Release Writing

  2. Gini says:

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Kim O'Hare says:

    I am surprised that you are using the term “Press Release” which is a carry over from the days when print was the dominant medium. Most progressive companies have opted for the term “News Release.” In fact I know some broadcast people who delete anything marked “Press” Release.”

  4. Don’t be surprised. The market has decided press release is the term people use and are familiar with.

    Using Google’s Keyword Tool:

    press release gets Global Monthly Search Volume of 823,000

    news release gets Global Monthly Search Volume of 90,500

    media release gets Global Monthly Search Volume of 40,500

    Any member of the media that deletes something that says press release has no ethics and is probably a really bad journalist. The same thing with journalists who do the same thing because of individualized pet peeves. Some people have valid pet peeves but they aren’t the norm. Acting out on small “insults” show short-sightedness and pettiness. A true journalist should judge a press release on its merits. Noting that, there are some things you can do with your press release that guarantees it won’t get read. I just can’t take seriously that calling it a press release is one of them.

  5. Jake says:

    Am curious as I am new to marketing and releases, we have a small company and want to know if you can mention past clients by name in a release without their approval. We are not planning to quote anyone or mention details at all about any company, just a little name dropping for use with release, and can you do this, mention a company name as a past client, or is this not right?

    Thanks so much,


  6. PR Fuel says:


    It depends. Some clients get bent out of shape at a mere mention. Others won’t care or notice. Does your contract forbid you from discussing that they are a client. If not, I suppose you’re fine but you may be alienating a past client. Talk to previous contact person and ask if it would be ok to mention them as a past client. If they say yes, you’ve covered your bases. If they say no, you can still do it but you now know you are burning a bridge.



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