What are the Most Common Errors our Editors Catch in Your Press Releases?

If there’s one thing our customers are almost universally in agreement about, it’s how fantastic our editors are. In our more than 20 newsrooms around the world, our eagle-eyed staff are constantly on the lookout for little errors that might otherwise go unnoticed during the press release writing and approval process. When they find them, they immediately alert the sender before we transmit the release, saving many an error from appearing in media inboxes, on social media or anywhere else.

The data bears it out – Business Wire issues far, far fewer corrections than any other wire services.

According to our internal reports, here — in no particular order — are the ten most frequent catches by our editors in your press releases:

1) Wrong day/date/time zone agreement.
2) Bad or broken hyperlinks.
3) Inconsistent references to the same company, people or product names.
4) Wrong usage of similar sounding words; e.g. their/there, then/than, effect/affect, and so on.
5) Wrong dates or old info recycled from a previous version of the release.
6) Apostrophe and possessive errors like “it’s” vs. “its.”
7) Company name missing in headline.
8) Footnotes referenced but not included in the release.
9) Improper use of quotation marks.
10) Missing or incomplete contact info and/or photo captions.

You should always make sure your release is as complete and as correct as possible before submitting it, but if anything slips through, we’ll be there to catch it!

9 Responses to What are the Most Common Errors our Editors Catch in Your Press Releases?

  1. Tim Waits says:

    My PR prof drilled in us to never put “For Immediate Release” on the press release because it’s not our job to dictate to the media. Nevertheless, I rarely see one that doesn’t have that stamped on there whether or not there is any timeliness value or not.

    • Tony says:

      Hi Tim,

      The term/stamp “For Immediate Release” is there not for the media but rather a stamp of approval from the client/company putting the information out. The release is complete and is ready “For Immediate Release” to the news media. News outlets see it all the time and ignore it any way. But the reference is a kind of tacit approval that the release is ready to be sent out.

  2. Two thoughts: 1. these are pretty basic errors. What does this say about the quality of training and desire for doing it right among the writers? What percent of releases have one or more of these errors? 2. Are there any editorial insights into whether or not the release is clear or will be relevant or meaningful to the audience? Might this be measured, graded and somehow used to improve the low level of readership and relevance of releases?

  3. Ben Johnson says:

    “For Immediate Release” isn’t supposed to be construed as an order to publish something – it’s usually to make clear that the information isn’t embargoed and can be published whenever the publication sees fit. However, unless you work in sensitive financial PR or Number 10 (in the UK), there’s very little reason to embargo anything.

  4. Alina Alexandroaie says:

    Before working in PR, I used to be a fashion/lifestyle journalist. So, I have been on both sides, let’s just say so.

    Three rules I’ve learned about effective press releases:

    1. Don’t make them too long;they propably won’t be read/published or they will be published as you send them, without the journalist’s touch. So, the readers will feel them as paid advertise, not as press article or as a recommandation
    2. Don’t underestimate the value of propper grammar (I don’t work in English and I don’t speak it so well, so please excuse any of my mistakes). As a journalist, I paid a lot of attention on the language use. In a press release, it is accepted to find some wrong commas, some weird phrase topics. But not big grammar mistakes. They ment to me than and they still mean now unprofessional behaviour
    3. Don’t use too many fonts. Don’t play with bold/italic etc. It’s ok to emphasis on some slogans/words/dates/names, but don’t show your grafic talent on a press release!

    P.S. And I used to hate the title “Very important press release”- yes, they are some releases with this title. It may be very important to you, but it deffinitely is not that important to me or my readers.

  5. I agree with Alina about fonts and go even further – don’t use anything but a plain text font. Any formatting you put into a release to make it look more attractive will have to be removed before it can be used so it ends up making the release less, rather than more, attractive to an editor.

  6. Rob McGregor says:

    Frankly, I dislike the term ‘press’ release – aside from the fact that it ignores the electronic media. If the ‘release’ isn’t news, isn’t newsworthy why bother. As a consultant, it is a good discipline and timely reminder that such releases should be new – in that the event is current – and newsworthy

  7. […] for us but it can be very helpful for our clients too, which is why we actually have an entire Top Ten we’ve […]

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