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Common mistakes in commercial property PR

There are a number of mistakes that are commonly made when writing press releases, and they are the sort of thing that can irritate journalists and the sub-editors that they work with. If you can avoid these then you will increase the chances of your story being used and appearing in the media.

Journalists and editorial staff of newspapers, magazines and online news sites are more under pressure today than ever, so if you can make their lives easy, then you are more likely to get coverage. Having well-written text that conforms to their style really makes their lives easy.

If you really want to help yourself and improve the chances of your news release being published, take notice of the style each one adopts. As this is not always possible, it is sensible to avoid some of the most common mistakes.

Here are five that we often see.

1. There has to be a story

What’s the story? There has to be a story. Someone must have done something, somewhere. Remember that it is all about who did what, where they did it, and when did they do it? Where possible, in property stories, you should also say how much it cost. Something else to bear in mind is that recent events are more newsworthy than historic ones.

2. Companies are singular

There is only one Google, there is only one Amazon and there is only one Williams & Jones Chartered Surveyors. For this reason, the correct syntax is: “High Bay Shed Developments has sold a 100,000 sq ft warehouse property.”

Not ‘have’, but ‘has’.

(NB For some reason it seems acceptable to refer to sports teams in the plural, and you will sometimes see, or hear, sports reports that go along the lines of “Chelsea have won the cup,” when it should really be “Chelsea Football Club has won the cup.” In any event, High Bay Shed Developments is not a football team.)

3. Capital letters

We often see news stories and online content that will be along the lines of: “David Smith, Managing Director of High Bay Shed Developments, has signed a Contract to build the new Distribution Unit.”

There are precious few journalists or sub-editors who will find the use of capital letters in this way is acceptable. Only proper nouns are capitalised and “Managing Director”, or any job title, is not a proper noun. In this case, it should be: “David Smith, managing director of High Bay Shed Developments, has signed a contract to build the new distribution unit.”

4. Clichés and exaggeration

A well-known property journalist once told us that she would never use a comment from someone that started with “We are delighted…”

She also said that, unless it was a very strong story, that clichéd phrase alone would probably mean the news release would be binned.

We’d also recommend that you avoid phrases full of adjectives and exaggerations like: “High Bay Shed Developments, the leading provider of distribution properties, has let 55,000 sq ft of Grade A warehouse accommodation at its prestigious new, prime distribution scheme in Wade Road, Basingstoke to Mega Logistics plc on a new 15-year FRI lease.”

Most journalists and sub-editors would probably cut this down to: “High Bay Shed Developments has let a 55,000 sq ft warehouse in Wade Road, Basingstoke to Mega Logistics.”

5. Full stops

We’re not suggesting that you shouldn’t use full stops, just that you should use them in the correct way - at the end of sentences.

For example, from a journalist’s stylistic point of view, it should be “sq ft” and not “sq.ft.”, and it is in no way is it “ft2”.

You may think that we are being pedantic about these things, but when writing news releases, it does help to make sure they are as error-free and as well written as possible.

Should you wish to brush up on punctuation and grammar we can recommend this further reading; the entertaining ‘Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ by Lynne Truss or the excellent ‘My Grammar and I (Or Should That Be 'Me'?)’ by Caroline Taggart and J A Wines.

Of course, Realiser is here to make your life that much easier when writing news releases about property transactions!