Bad Press Releases: Marketing, Not News

by coach on October 23, 2010

Not news but marketing

This is the first in our new weekly series of worst press releases. It didn’t take long to find this week’s culprit over at PRweb.com.

Issued by William Lyon Homes in Newport Beach, CA it reads Start Your Gift Shopping Now With The Unwrap The Holidays Savings Event At William Lyon Homes’ San Carlos Court And Ivy In Irvine.

Have a look and see what YOU think. We used a nine-point criteria* to rate it and here’s how this press release scored in our view:

Criteria* Perfect Score William Lyon Homes
Headline 10 2
Lead 10 2
News Value 20 5
Content – general quality, context 15 5
Writing Quality, AP style 10 3
Grammar, Spelling, typos, etc 10 6
Social Media IQ 10 5
Resources – pics, video, reports 10 5
Contact Info, boilerplate 5 3
Score: Potential vs Actual 100 36


468x60 logo on right side and green

Overall Press Release Assessment

So what did you think of this press release? Were we too harsh in our report card? I don’t think any editor would have been able to find news here. Nor should they have to try so hard.

The negatives in this unfortunate press release were overwhelming. A weak headline and lead with no strong news value, content loaded with “marketing” speak and a tenuous link to Christmas.

The only small positives were several links and visuals supplied but it was not enough to overcome a lack of real news.

Unfortunately, this news release was a fail. What little news there was – a possible $10,000 saving – was buried in hype and marketing puffery. The company would have been better to buy advertising to promote its offer. This is a common PR mistake businesses make and it reflects poorly on a company when they try to turn marketing into “news.”

The lesson here? Don’t mix marketing and news.

Recently I wrote a post about the worst news release I’ve seen in many years: News Release Was Not Ready for Prime Time. Lots of lessons there too and I also shared seven practical tips for better news releases.

The goal in this regular series is to learn through “real” news releases. There’s no better solution though than finding real news, writing it well and serving it up to the media in a timely and targeted fashion.

You’ll also find more than 220 additional news release tips and social media release resources in the PR Library. All designed to help you write a better press release, learn more about news release strategies and explore social media releases and distribution.

Let us know what you think of this new series of worst press releases in the comments below and if you’ve got another favorite bad news release, please share it! Here’s to better news ahead.

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