Writer, Heal Thyself!

 October 8, 2011

All press release writers have hit the wall at some stage. A deadline is approaching, it’s late, you have gone over the release so many times that you can recite it by heart and you need to produce a killer final paragraph.

You produce the words, save the document and sleep on it but there is something nagging you at the back of your mind. Was it a mispelling? maybe the spellcheck didn’t pick it up; how about syntax or grammar errors? Easily done, even by professionals.  You reopen the document and discover something even worse – cliches and every writers Achilles Heel – Unnecessary Journalism Phrases.

Everyone does it occasionally – Game-changer; as of yet; blend together; whether or not and  many more redundant words and phrases that render the writing pedestrian and reduce the impact of the press release.

How to guard against slipping into the territory of the ordinary?  The greatest of the great, Mark Twain, once advised the writer to “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you are inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be”. Advise that still stands up today, but we need even more external eyes and discipline to force our press release writing to be as crisp, striking and clear as possible.

One blog that is worth consulting on a regular basis is ‘Unnecessary Journalism Phrases’ (http://unnecessaryjournalismphrases.tumblr.com/). The blog selects a cliched or overused phrase, gives plenty of egregious examples of its overuse and inappropriateness and offers remedies on how to avoid the traps along the way.

Thinking about your press release writing and checking it for cliches and repetitive phrases will offer many advantages. Your writing will be better, your release will be more readable and it will be more attractive to readers who haven’t heard a phrase a hundred times or more.

Writing consistently effective press releases is an art and like all great art it requires inspiration, discipline and dedication. Incorporating emergency brakes like ‘Unnecessary Journalism Phrases’ into your revision routines will mean that soon you will be able to stop yourself in time and spend more time creating and less time revising and rewriting.

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