Press release pitfalls

Hopefully this guide will provide you with some inside knowledge of how press releases are constructed. However, there may still be some room for error. The following lists a few common mistakes often made when writing a press release with some advice on how to overcome them.

Choice of language

Using complex jargon will make your press release incomprehensible and it is thus likely to be ignored by journalists.

It is easy to forget that terms which you use in your everyday academic life may mean nothing to non-specialist members of the public. Therefore, there is a need to use simple language to explain your research. This is not the same as 'dumbing down' your research; it is still possible to convey the complexity of your work whilst avoiding jargon and academic speech, in favour of everyday words and phrases.

Worthwhile content 

Only write a press release if you have something to say.

As this guide shows, constructing a press release follows a standard formula which can be applied to any subject matter. However, it is important to preserve the reputation of the University's Press Office and therefore, a press release is only distributed to the media if it is about something that is newsworthy and will grab their attention, so before you begin, ask yourself, do I have something interesting to say? And only if the answer to this question is yes, should you proceed.

If your news is possibly not 'media-worthy' we can publicise it directly to people through the Newsblog.


Do not use extreme exaggeration to get noticed.

It is very tempting to over-emphasise your story in hope that it will sound more exciting to journalists than it perhaps is in reality, however they will be able to see-through this and are even more likely to ignore your information than if it was presented to them in a straight forward manner. Be honest, and stick to the occasional 'firework'; a one-sentence paragraph, a killer quote or a powerful statistic that resonates with the reader and makes the release memorable.


The journalist does not need to, nor want to, know every little detail about your research, therefore once you have written your first draft, make sure you read it through and ensure you have been as concise as possible in your explanation.

Try to stick to a word limit of 300-350 as this is the desired amount to convey all of the relevant information of a news story. It is better to leave the journalist wanting to know more as they are then more likely to follow up the release and contact you to answer any additional questions they have, as opposed to getting bored of your waffle and not even finish reading the whole text.


You can cut down the length of the release by being straight to the point and avoid hedging.

Not only does an assertive tone increase the credibility of content, but it also heightens the newsworthiness of the release by saying something 'is...' as opposed to something 'might be...'. This will ensure that a journalist takes notice of what you have to say because you are making an announcement as opposed to hinting at something. If your release implies that you are unsure, then the reader will be even more unsure of what you are trying to say.

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