A free ebook version of A Perfect Press Release – or Not?,  a guide to writing press releases, can now be downloaded from the website of the author, journalist Jennigay Coetzer, at www.jennigay.co.za.The book will help anyone involved in producing press releases and other types of articles for publication in the media or on a website to ensure they are written and constructed properly and contain content that is meaningful to the reader.

“This includes small businesses that cannot justify hiring a PR consultant, but still need to send out press releases,” says Coetzer. Hard hitting views from journalists and editors who face a daily barrage of press releases are included in the book, which also contains tips for spokespeople that need to be quoted in these articles.

Press releases are an effective, inexpensive way to raise a company’s profile, promote its viewpoints, products and services and announce events. But if the first three sentences of a press release provide no value or do not make sense, most journalists and editors will delete it without reading any further.

Similarly, those looking for information on the internet will move on if the content of the articles posted on a company’s website are cluttered with marketing hype, says Coetzer. “Nobody has time to plough through all this guff in the hopes of finding meaningful information.”

She says companies will proudly say they have “unique” products and services, and market differentiators, and yet the jargon, buzzwords and cliches they use in their press releases are all the same. Today, the expectations of those seeking interesting information from newspapers, magazines and the internet are higher than ever and the opportunity to grab and hold the readers’ attention is fleeting, says Coetzer.

“Lack of meaningful content leads to waffle, which gets in the way of a story and obscures any possible value for the reader,” she says. This will result in a fragmented article that, if published, will reflect badly on the company.

Any company can have a voice in the media and on its website by championing topical issues and trends that either affect the market as a whole or specific industry sectors and sharing knowledge and expertise that will benefit others, instead of just punting product. In so doing they can create a name for themselves as an authority on relevant topics and enhance the image of their company, says Coetzer.

Jennigay Coetzer has had 25 years experience as a business and technology journalist. Articles containing writing tips and media spokesperson guidelines can also be found on her website at: www.jennigay.co.za,. Details of the article writing skills and media training workshops and coaching sessions she runs are also included on the website.

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