Online Press Releases – Top Ten Mistakes

Your-Story.org publishes Top Ten Mistakes made by those submitting online press releases

Your-Story.org has been monitoring submissions to it’s free press release distribution service since October 2008.

Since then, the free website has published over 26,500 press releases issued by in excess of 1,700 individual authors or organisations. However, most submissions to Your-Story.org are deleted during moderation. Several mistakes are repeated by users on a daily basis, including many within the list below.

Top Ten Mistakes in Free Press Releases

Incorrect Categorisation

Press releases should be placed into the most relevant category, in order to reach the most relevant audience. Your-Story.org works hard on audience development – this entails finding journalists and bloggers who are interested in specific niches, and providing them with interest-based RSS feeds and other subscription methods. If you do not submit your press release into the right category, these people will probably never read it. Furthermore, Your-Story.org will filter out press releases which are obviously in the wrong category and either remove or recategorise them, with a preference for the former option (though there are usually other factors at play). Whichever way one looks at this, though, it is clear that someone who has submitted a press release into the wrong category has not spent a long time on the submission process, which indicates a lack or thought or effort: this is likely to be reflected in the press release as a whole.

Key Advice: spend time considering your audience, and target them specifically with every press release.

Excessive Linking

Your-Story.org does not allow hyperlinks to be placed in the body of press releases. This is for a very simple reason: the Your-Story.org website is a free press release resource, not a place to gain one way backlinks for some SEO effort. Such SEO releases are easy to spot: they feature excessive numbers of keyword or key-phrase links, often in bold text, and the sentences are usually not particularly well written. They read so badly, in general, that they are deleted for a total lack of any merit. This deletion is due to the fact that they are likely of no interest to the reader. An engaging press release which features a textual representation of a domain name is more than sufficient: it is up to the journalist or blogger who picks up your release to make a decision whether or not to use it, just as it is up to them to telephone or email you for more info.

Key Advice: write full sentences and paragraphs in standard press release format. Don’t use hyperlinks within your press release whatsoever: do you want people to read your releases; or to click away half way through? If the answer is “I want them to click” you should be submitting an advertisement, not a press release.

Spelling Mistakes

Many press releases are deleted due to spelling mistakes – probably 5% of all deletions have misspelt or nonsense titles, which see them deleted without even being opened: if you spell your title wrong, a journalist won’t read your press release, and neither will we. Typo’s and spelling errors in the body text are forgivable, but you should at least proof read a couple of times before submitting a press release: you won’t be able to edit your release after it is published, so make sure it is right first time.

Key Advice: Proof read as many times as you can, preferably by more than one person.

Garbled Formatting

It does not matter how many rules on the Your-Story.org website say this, users still submit press releases which are written with html or some word processor formatting that doesn’t fit well with the Your-Story.org style rules. Some press releases even try to specify a wider page width than that which is available which result in “hidden” text. These releases are often deleted.

Key Advice: Always submit in plain text, and hit the “preview” button to make sure before submitting – that’s what its there for!

Not Newsworthy

Your-Story.org moderators have lost count of the number of times they have said “that’s not even a press release!” before hitting the ‘delete’ button. Some things that are not press releases include, but are not limited to, advertisements, articles, lists and announcements which are perfunctory or standard. This latter point is vital – your news must be of interest to some imaginary person, at the very least: you might be pretty pleased with the new web-page you just wrote, but perhaps there isn’t a ready, global market for that news.

Key Advice: Make sure your release is newsworthy by asking yourself a simple question: “who cares?” and be honest with yourself.

Not Timely

Sometimes, people submit press releases about events which took place a long time ago, usually, we presume, because they already had the press release prepared from when that event occurred, but have only just discovered the excellent free press release distribution services available at Your-Story.org. However, what they should consider is this: does the fact that you launched your website last November really need to be released to the press now we are in March? No. It does not. Furthermore, were Your-Story.org to publish such untimely information, there is every chance it would lose subscribers.

Key Advice: Don’t follow the pattern above, simply wait until something new comes along, then submit your next press release, not the last five.

“Pay Day Loans” Releases

We probably get 40-50 of these a day. We will never publish them. There is nothing newsworthy about a 1000% APR loan other than the fact that they appear to represent exceedingly poor value for money. Moreover, those who look to submit such press releases are often simply affiliates of another company, acting on commission, and usually breaking almost every of the nine other “don’t do” rules from this very list in the process. If our moderators see the words “pay day loan” or a derivative of this in the title of your press release, they are instructed to delete it. Along with the other 15 exact replicas you attempted to submit at the same time. Your account will be deleted straight afterward.

Key Advice: Find a way to make money which does not involve charging people who don’t have any money left a huge amount for a tiny loan, or simply don’t expect the online media world to be interested in your offer.

Unverified Claims

“we are the best” or “we are the number one” is probably your opinion, but is it fact? Unlikely. If you say this sort of thing in your press release, expect it never to make it through the moderation process. If a third party has declared you “the best” then that is a different story, but you should still quote when and where this comment was made. Statistics from public sources are always good for such claims. Likewise, exercise extreme caution when making claims about the efficacy of your product or service: what you are saying is a public statment: make sure you are allowed to say it. The most outrageous unverified claims will often result in deletion.

Key Advice: Quote someone else, or don’t make any claims at all. Verify any fact or opinion that you base your press release around: it not only sounds better, but that way the reader knows you haven’t simply made something up.

Nonsensical Releases

Some press releases are simply nonsense: they are not written in English, at least not any form of English we can understand. These are deleted. This may be because of some translation gone awry, or it may be because a sentence has been cut / pasted wrongly. Whatever the reason, such releases are useless to the readers of Your-Story.org.

Key Advice: make sure your press release makes sense by reading it through at least once.

Failing to Submit

Some users of Your-Story.org hit “Save” instead of “Submit for Review” when attempting to have a press release published. We know this because they then leave their press releases in the site without ever returning to it. Don’t do that. It will simply sit there until the next time we purge unpublished releases of more than 45 days age.

Key Advice: Read the instructions and press the correct buttons.

About Your-Story.org

Your-Story.org is the Free Press Release Resource. You may register and submit press releases to Your-Story.org for free using the options in the upper right hand side of any page.