Back to Basics

 January 18, 2012
New Year, new workload and a lot of new ideas, products and services for Press Releases to spring forth and spread your words far and wide. You might be returning from the holidays but the start of a year is also a good time to retool and reevaluate your skills as a writer.  In the first week of training, even superstars like David Beckham and Drew Brees go back to the very basics of their craft, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t either. 

1) Know your audience

Who are you writing for with each particular release? What kind of readers does each outlet you are pitching to attract? Do they exist in print and online or one or the other?  The best press release success will come from slightly tweaking and reworking your release for each audience you are trying to address.

2) Inform, Educate, Entertain but don’t promote unnecessarily

You have a great message, perfectly crafted, for the right audience but it still might fall down if you get carried away with your writing. Journalists filters are more sophisticated than ever and if your release comes over as a ‘puff piece’ rather than actual, useful information or knowledge then it will be making its way to the spam folder quicker than it took to send it.

3) Context is King

‘Content is King’ is so 2011; Context is going to be the buzzword in 2012 in Press Releases, Social Media and more. Why is your story important? Why should your message be heard?  Journalists are busier than ever so the easier you can make it for them to read your story and understand its appeal, the greater chance of it appearing in wider circulation.

4) Just the Facts

A certain flair with words is always an advantage but sometimes you have to rein in your creative urges for the good of the message. Writing about a new burger restaurant in glowing Shakespearean terms will definitely make you feel better as a writer but will it hit the key audiences and messages you want?  If in doubt, cut it out.

5) Be Personal

That is not to say that you must subsume your personality and gifts entirely. Your introduction to the publication should be friendly, inviting and personable.  No fake “Hey Editor, This story is for you!” or any platitudes, approach with a simple “This is a story I think would appeal to your readers” or “I have a new xxxx to tell you about, we think it’s great but let me know what you think’ – always remember the golden rule – it’s a press release, not an advert.

6) Belt and Braces

Before you hit ‘send’ hit the spell and grammar chekcer first (see what we did there?); it should be second nature but it is always useful to pick up any stray errors that have snuck by your perspiring eyes. Also, do a brief manual check yourself as some correctly spelled but inappropriate words may also be willing to trip you up. What a machine will ignore, a human reader will hone in on straight away.  Finally, if your release is a rewrite or goes to multiple respondents then make sure they are getting the correct version – if it says, Dear Steve, make sure it is going to Steve, etc. And no matter what you do, make sure you don’t have ‘INSERT LINK HERE’ or other giveaways lurking to give you away.

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