10 Ways to Write Great Press Releases
The press release is over 100 years old. Because of the internet, writing a professional press release is more vital than ever to the perception of you and your company.
In the past your press release, if it contained news, was edited by a journalist to produce something that was publishable.
Today, as a result of the internet, your release, warts and all, is available to view globally on your website and multiple websites if you place it on a wire service.
In the words of Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge:* "This means that you can publish a release riddled with hyperbole, spin, buzz words and hype that will not only dissuade your customers from doing business with you - it will send them to your competition."
So here are 10 tips to help you write great press releases:
1. First find your fish. Before you cook and fillet it, you have first got to catch it. So the most important part of a press release is to identify the news story. E.g. new product, customer wins (or wins), new jobs, major investment, senior management appointment, export deal, reports, surveys and so on.
New offices or tenth anniversaries, while important to you internally, are generally not news. However, they can provide a useful platform for you to say something interesting about your profession, industry or sector.
2. Remember the inverted pyramid. Consider the content of your release as an inverted pyramid, i.e., the most important points, news go at the top. Your release should make sense if it is cut from the bottom paragraph up.
3. Write in the third person. Press releases should be written in the third person. The only reference to 'we' should be in a quote from your CEO.
4. Kill all adverbs, adjectives. This is a news/press release, not an advertisement, so hunt down any adverbs or adjectives in your copy and kill them.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague.
6. Get your apostrophes right. Nothing kills the credibility of a press release (and the issuing company) more than incorrect grammar and in particular, misuse of the apostrophe. One of the following words does NOT exist. Do you know which one? It's. Its. Its'.
7. Keep it short. Start to worry once you go over 300 words. And if you are putting your release on an international wire service, it will cost you more once you go over 400 words.
8. Avoid jargon. If you really must use an acronym then do spell it out in brackets.
9. Avoid exclamation marks!!!
10. Spell check. Always, always spell check. Indeed Sunday Business Post journalist and Your Tech blogger, Adrian Weckler, recommends that if you are under 40 you should give it to somebody older to read and check. His theory is that, brought up in an era of SMS, few people under 40 can spell.
Indeed, Adrian Weckler, as a victim of thousands of press releases, has some great advice in this area as well as general advice on dealing with the media. See: http://www.yourtechstuff.com/techwire/2009/01/how-to-write-a-competent-press-release.html
Ronnie Simpson BBS, FPRII
Founder of Simpson Financial & Technology Public Relations
Wednesday 31st March 2010, 4:32 pm
By Ronnie Simpson