Photo Credit: Untitled, by PotatoJunkie

After reviewing all the first news releases in PRCA 3330 & COMM 4333, I am generally pleased with what I saw, considering it is the first news release that many of you have written. The best stories were ones that passed the “So What?” test; they were newsworthy to those outside your client’s organization. They were well organized and clearly written. You must have remembered what you learned in your Intro to Journalism class!

Here are some common errors I saw:

  1. Using “we” or “our” when it’s not part of a quotation (a news release needs to sound like a story one would read in an impartial newspaper, not in a company newsletter). News releases need to be written in third person, not first.
  2. Improper use of commas (either too many or not enough)
  3. Puffery (making statements in the news release that don’t seem newsworthy. Some of these would be okay as part of a quotation, however.)
  4. Calling women “girls” or “ladies” (even though it’s common in sororities to do this, AP Style calls for the use of the word “women” when you are writing about female adults)
  5. Abbreviating the word Georgia as GA (rather than Ga.) or Florida as FL (rather than Fla.).
  6. Improper formatting on dates, times, numerals, etc.
  7. Format (forgetting to put an embargo date or For Immediate Release, end sign, page slugs, letterhead with mailing address, etc.). Check BlackBoard or GeorgiaVIEW for the template I provided to you; this will help with basic formatting.
  8. Including a headline that is not compelling. Your headline should be active and entice the reader to dive right into your story, not bore him or her to sleep.

Be sure to avoid these errors when writing future news releases. And you might want a quick refresher of how to flag your AP Stylebook for easy reference, if you haven’t flagged it yet. It’s a real time-saver; I promise. I’ve been using AP Style for all of my adult life, and I still need to look some things up.