5 Ways Your Press Release Might Hurt You

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of awful press releases out there. Many of them have been sent over PRWeb.com or other wire services in an attempt to get attention for a book or particular author.  Press releases should be used sparingly and for good purpose only. Here are five ways a bad press release will do more harm then good: 

  1. A press release is intended for news that is current. Journalists and editors are looking for story ideas in pitches, NOT in press releases. Experienced media will look at you as a rookie if you retool your old articles into releases or send releases with information or advice that’s already on your blog or in your book. Instead, create an e-book out of your articles and announce THAT. Start a VIP circle within your platform and announce that. Make sure that your press release contains new information, events or announcements.
  2. Don’t send press releases about things that haven’t happened yet. Recently I saw a press release that was excitedly announcing an author who had been talking to a major late night show booker. This author was not booked on the show and likely will not be booked after sending this release over the wire. I know it’s exciting when things start to happen for you and your book PR-wise but keep it on the downlow until it’s imminent or has just happened. And never disclose something that happens during an interview before it airs.
  3. Don’t include irrelevant information on your release. No one cares if you have three dogs or if your second home is next door to Wayne Dyer in Hawaii. (Honestly, I saw that once.) Press releases are about facts that the media cares about. Not that you aren’t delightful in real life but stick to what’s relevant. A sentence about being married and having a couple kids is enough. If you want, include some unusual hobby or characteristic and tie it back to your work. Nick Tasler, an organizational consultant who writes for Psychology Today about decision-making, often makes a short ironic statement about the decisions he’s having trouble making in his own life. That’s fine, but do it in your author bio not in your main release.
  4. As far as facts are concerned, don’t wait until the third paragraph to get to your point. Your main point should be in the first sentence.  You may feel as though your news is unlikely to be of interest until they learn all about you and your penchant for midnight bocce ball. This is farther from the truth. If your news is interesting the media will want to learn more about you. If you don’t get to the point right away you’ve lost them immediately.
  5. Finally, do NOT stretch the truth. (In other words, don’t lie.) You wouldn’t believe how many times I hear “Can’t we just say we did this?” or “Well it’s not quite true but let’s put it in there.”  You cannot lie to the media in a press release. They will find out and you will be toast and lose all credibility.

I apologize if I sound like a knuckle-cracking nun on this topic. But I feel as though many book marketing hucksters out there are offering really bad advice that is hurting authors and definitely cluttering up the news wires. Be careful with your releases. Build up your blog platform and write there about your bocce ball prowess, or guest post on another, more popular blog.

If you’d like more advice on how to write a press release, visit Inc.com here for an excellent primer.


  1. says

    good solid advice here, i didnt realise it was damaging to mention something that hasnt happened yet…its too easy to get caught up in the excitement start to happen, you want the whole world to know!

  2. says

    I wonder how many of these press releases are being used solely for SEO purposes. Perhaps that would explain why people aren’t paying as much attention to detail and why they are writing press releases about things that have already happened. I know a lot of people incorporate press releases as part of an overall SEO strategy, and unfortunately a lot of them don’t care that much about quality as long as it gets accepted and gets their link out there.
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