Press Release Writing Tips

Published on March 19, 2009 by in Article writing

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Excerpts from A Perfect Press Release – or Not? by Jennigay Coetzer

Press releases have long been seen as an effective, inexpensive way of letting the media, customers, potential customers and the market at large know that a company exists, and promote its products and services. But in 95% of cases the information in press releases is incomplete, confusing or buried in marketing hype and jargon and the press release ends up in the editors bin.

Sending out press releases that trumpet a company’s achievements instead of focusing on what will interest the target audience could ruin its reputation with the media. Similarly, companies could expose themselves to ridicule by posting jargon-filled press releases directly on their websites.

With no impartial editor to trim out all the guff, this might seem like an opportunity for companies to say what they like to a broad audience. But it will irritate and frustrate those who are trying to find meaningful information on the website, including existing and potential customers, if they have to wade through a load of waffle to get to it. In addition, an increasing number of journalists and editors are using the internet to source information.

Have a strategy for every press release you send to the media or publish on the internet.

Instead of writing the story around the marketing jargon, write the story and then add the jargon afterwards – or as a marketing strategist friend of mine says: “Put the lipstick on the pig.”

Before producing a press release ask yourself:

  • Is this a good story – or is it just puff?
  • Is the content relevant?
  • Will it grab and keep the attention of the reader?
  • Is the article properly constructed?
  • Does the story flow?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Are all the facts there?

Reasons press releases fail:

  • Company puffery and posturing
  • Self-gratification.
  • Lack of useful information.
  • Not enough value for the reader.
  • Lack of focus.
  • Too many ideas or views in the story.
  • Disjointed or fragmented information.
  • Waffle.

Writing tips and tricks

  • Don’t get hung up on the intro.
  • Find a hook to hang the story on.
  • You can always go back and change it later.
  • Write as if you were having a conversation with the readers.
  • Don’t leave questions in the readers’ mind.
  • Don’t assume any prior knowledge.
  • Finish each point before moving on
  • Keep each sentence short – 35 words max.
  • Make direct quotes in quotation marks short and snappy.
  • Write and rewrite the article to achieve perfection.
  • When reading it through, say “So What?” after every sentence.

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