- Providing insufficient or wrong information. Particularly telephone numbers. Releases must be complete, accurate and specific.
- Writing too long. They should be no longer than two pages, preferably one page.
- Sending it too late. For local newspapers, mail or fax it at least two weeks before an event, preferably three or four.
- Sending a release with no news value. News is what happens that is different. If it isn't different, it isn't news.
- Blatant commercialism. Using flowery words and phrases such as "spectacular," "incredible" and "the only one of its kind."
- 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.
- 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 in the newsroom will check for you. Most reporters and editors don't have time.
This piece was submitted By Joan Stewart, a publicity expert, workshop presenter and publisher of The Publicity Hound, a bi-monthly subscription newsletter on how to get free publicity. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit her on the web at http://www.publicityhound.com where you can find more publicity tips, topics covered in all her back issues and information on how to order a sample copy of The Publicity Hound.