Bad Press Releases: 20 Worst Headlines Ever

by coach on December 6, 2010

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Does your news release headline get attention?

This just in. The headline is the most important part of your press release. Apparently, many have forgotten that rule. Today, we’re sharing 20 of the worst press release headlines we’ve seen recently.  It’s all part of our quest for better, more effective news releases.

But first, a couple of thoughts about headlines. A great headline gets read by a newsroom editor, reporter, radio news director or TV assignment editor. If your headline is bad, it’s in the trash instantly! Literally or electronically.

The headline is your door opener, your calling card. It’s your conversation starter for a media pitch, the entrée for your online newsroom visitor and the only way a reader will decide whether to continue reading or not.

Before we get to our worst press release headlines, here are five tips to make your news release headlines better:

  1. Limit your headline to 8 to 10 words (or 70 characters) if possible. Briefer is better.
  2. If you need to add more information, use a sub-head. But make sure it adds to the news value of your story.
  3. Rewrite. Edit. Edit. Tight is right.
  4. Ensure you have a strong “news hook.” No news, no pickup.
  5. Include a keyword where appropriate for SEO purposes.

20 Worst News Release Headlines

These headlines were randomly chosen from several free newswires. We didn’t make a judgment on the content of the release. We treated it simply as a news editor would. Did the headline offer enough “news” value to look further? Would we want to pursue it as a possible news story? The answer is, in these cases, no! Delete.

From Free-Press-Release.com

A unique new Business
How? Why? Why would we care?

Does PAI YOU GUO Slim Capsules really work?
Grammar please!

Cheap granite worktops affordable quartz countertops low cost kitchen worksurfaces
SEO should not overrule news. Plus typos.

Login and Passwords To Ashley Madison
What? Who? Who cares?

Bean Bags To Head Up The Christmas Retail Sales Charts
Says who?

Totally Free Active iPod/iPad/iPhone to iTunes and Mac Transfer – Time is Limited! Hurry Up!
Honest. This was the headline.

908-313-9888 WASTE MANAGEMENT NEWARK NJ 908-313-9888
I kid you not. LOL.

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From
PRLog.org:

wet cement Ball Mill role in the mineral processing equipment
What? Do tell.

ALT’s Innovation Products Create Green Miracle Once Again
Great. Nothing like another miracle!

1400mah Backup 2nd Battery Case Stand For Iphone 4
This is news?

Wholesale – Uninterrupted Power Supply
Foreign company “release” is actually a product manual, loaded with poor grammar and no news. Worth a read for entertainment.

Wow! Invicta Swiss Watches Sale Off 80%!
More marketing. Yuck.

Teach you how to wear half-length skirt
Breathless. This just in.

From 1888PressRelease.com

Infinitely Virtual Launches a New Website, Again Raising the Bar on its Competitors
A new website is not news, ever. Even if “raising the bar on its competitors.”

ZyXEL ventures into 2-Bay Media Server with the Launch of NSA221
Tech talk does not make news by itself.

Reed Mcpherson CEO Pleased As Oil hovers near $87 in Asia on economic hopes
OMG. Just imagine if the CEO wasn’t pleased!

Medisweans announces multitudes of additional advanced features to its existing medical billing services
Jeez. “Multitudes.” Stop the presses.

Klein Honda reveals its huge inventory of Honda certified vehicles for its customers
What about tying the headline into the economy and benefits for car buyers?

Cornerstone Consulting Inc. Announces Their Participation in the SOHO Expo 2010 Trade Show
They’ll be at a trade show? Really?

BDD Corporation Plans To Utilize Twitter Research
No news. No explanation. C’mon.

Enough already! I get that SEO is one of the functions of free news release distribution services. But is it any wonder journalists are getting annoyed and no longer want news releases from some businesses and some PR professionals? I’d have a headache reading these all day trying to find some news somewhere.

PR Web also has an interesting list of its 25 most popular press release headlines. There’s lots to learn there about why those news releases are popular. While some are a bit long, most headlines draw you in with a solid news hook, curiosity, intrigue, or on occasion, humor.

Remember, 75 percent of journalists find well-targeted news releases with high-quality content useful although Jeremy Porter may convince you that other methods are more effective.  And, it seems 79.4% still want it by email according to Dan Janal.

But as our worst press release headlines show, if you can’t say anything newsworthy in your headline, don’t say anything at all.

If you’re looking for more news release tips and learning from “bad press releases”, try out these previous PR Coach posts:

Bad Press Releases: Weight Loss News Losers
Bad Press Releases: Marketing, Not News
Bad Press Releases: BS + Bafflegab = PR Fail
News Release Was Not Ready for Prime Time
16 Bad Words & Phrases to Banish from PR
Overused Buzzwords Strangle the Real News

We’ve got lots more News Release Writing Tips and Do-It-Yourself PR Tips in the PR Library. Come on in and browse around.

Author:  Jeff Domansky is Editor, The PR Coach

Photo credit: Martin Deutsch via Flickr

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