Grammar Happy: 5 mistakes to avoid in press releases

07.02.18 Grammar

Grammar mistakes–the arch-enemy of PR professionals. Here at MediaHQ, we don’t even like to post a picture to Instagram or a status to Facebook, without checking it over a million times before sending it off into the depths of social media for the world to see.

Unfortunately, in the world of PR, there is no edit button like there is on Facebook.  Once you hit send on your press release, the idea of losing a few followers due to a mistake is the least of your worries–your job, your credibility, and the content you’re putting out to the public is on the line and you have one chance to get it right.

Although some of these may seem basic, it’s surprising how often they’re used incorrectly. By avoiding these five common grammar mistakes when writing a press release, you will be sure to stand out in a profession that feeds on good grammar.

1) ‘Your’ instead of ‘you’re’ and knowing when to use which

Misuse of these forms can completely change the message you’re trying to convey.

‘Your’ takes on the possessive form: ‘I like your new dress’, your dress belongs to you.

‘You’re’ means you are: ‘You’re one step ahead of me.’

Although ‘You are’ may not come up as frequently because typically you won’t be addressing the reader in a press release, it is very likely for it to come up when quoting someone within the copy so make sure it is used accordingly.

2) Using the word anxious as excited

Although these words can often be used in similar context, a press release is not the place to do this. The word anxious is associated with anxiety and can have a negative connotation.
The colloquial use of terms like ‘anxious’ may be ok when speaking to a friend but in the written word it can be misconstrued. The last thing you want to do is unintentionally add stress to a reader and contradict your initial message.

3) Participles that dangle

The way you construct a sentence has a direct effect on what your audience will take away from your writing. In other words, participles that dangle in sentences cause poor sentence structure, which will alter your sentence meaning.  This will mislead your audience, and will unsuccessfully deliver your intended message–talk about the domino effect!

If you say ‘Forgetting all about work, the weather was perfect at the beach!’ This technically reads that the weather forgot about work–which isn’t true because it doesn’t make sense. The correct way to construct this sentence would be ‘Forgetting about work, the couple enjoyed the perfect weather at the beach’ so there’s no question as to who is being referenced. No dangles, no questions.

4) Literally

Society takes the meaning of this word and continues to use it in a way that contradicts its original meaning.

When you use the word ‘literally’ it must mean that something has to actually be happening and that it is actually capable of happening. If someone says ‘I am so tired I’m literally going to die’, the probability of them actually dying because they had to get up early, is slim to none.

As this term is so overused, it is very unlikely that people will take it seriously when reading your press release.

5) Mixing up there’s

Just like the ‘Yours’ from above, the ‘there’s’ are a close relative to this same family.  There are three different forms of this word: their, there, and they’re. Their’ takes on a possessive form: ‘Help businesses optimise their online sales’, the online sales are related to the business.

‘There’ expresses location: ‘I am walking over there’, expresses the location that I am walking to.

‘They’re’ means there are, with the apostrophe showing where the two words are combined as one.

The correct usage and placement of the ‘there’s’ will ensure you with a flawless track record in the press release world.

With our database of over 8,000 media contacts, that is monitored and updated daily, you can target your press release at the reporters that are most relevant to your story.

To try a free demo click here. For more information call Gaye on (01) 254 1845.