Summer is finally here and
school is out, but learning for the rest of us continues.
Whether you're a seasoned PR professional working for
a top agency, a novice just beginning a career, or a mid-level
manager working in-house at a small business, the time
comes when we all could use a refresher course in properly
writing suitable copy for the press.
My lesson occurred recently upon reading an interesting
interview with retired Wall Street Journal assistant
managing editor, Paul R. Martin, Sr., in The
Bulldog Reporter, a public relations trade newsletter.
Reporters and public relations professionals alike greatly
admire Mr. Martin's experience, and they should because
his advice for avoiding common writing mistakes is the
best primer available for writing great press releases.
Allow me to share with you what I learned:
Keep your press release short and simple.
Try to use one word instead of two, and ask yourself
if what you've written is redundant. If in doubt,
have a colleague or friend read your release. Reporters
want to understand your key points immediately. They
don't want to call you multiple times for clarification.
Write plainly and avoid company-insider phrases,
clichés or industry-specific jargon. Unless you
are targeting the trade press, avoid all jargon because
it has no meaning outside of the company or industry.
An example phrase would be "state of the art." ·
Do not capitalize titles to elevate your boss
or company. Never capitalize titles like "President"
or "Chairman". Capped titles should only be applied
to things like the names of countries or political
heads of State.
Refrain from creating new words or phrases.
Instead of saying, "grow the economy" verbs like 'expand,'
or 'increase,' still work just as well. ·
Write in active voice. Remember that no one
likes to read poorly written copy. Brush up on your
grammar and never use the passive voice, which is
Whether you are a PR professional or a small-business
owner writing press releases in-house, you must know how
the media writes. Keep in mind that journalists expect
the quality level and same attention to detail in your
copy that their editors demand from their own stories.
If you violate these rules, here is yet another instance
where your release will receive a one-way trip to the
reporter's trash can.
Notable PR Resources:
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