30 Aug The Dos and Don’ts of Press Release Writing
Ah, the press release – a necessary evil in public relations. As my coworker Jennifer argued earlier this month, the press release does serve a specific purpose and can be a useful tool. However, those of us writing releases know that they are often ineffective and misprescribed. At best, they are tools for getting news in front of journalists – but that alone will not lead to coverage, only knowledge.
When I first came across the below infographic on the dos and don’ts of press releases, my initial reaction was, well duh! “Follow proper spelling, punctuation and grammar” – I mean, come on, I would hope that anyone drafting a release wouldn’t need to be told that. The tips seem pretty basic and are hopefully common sense if you’ve ever worked in PR.
However, the more I looked at the infographic, the more I realized that press release drafting has become such a rote task that some of these basic points are frequently overlooked, even by writers who know better. The point that struck me most was, “Send news worth bragging about.” As simple as this sounds, the majority of press releases aren’t really saying much. Before you leap into drafting a release to announce version 1.23 of your product, really think about your news – is it worthy of a press release? Or would a blog post be a better fit?
“Get a second set of eyeballs to proof” struck me as well, mostly because I’ve seen far too many releases (live on company websites, mind you) rife with typos and errors! Chances are, these companies behind these releases never bothered with a second set of eyeballs. In an effort to get news out as quickly as possible, some of these most basic protocols are being overlooked or taken for granted. Take the time to do an extra read through of each sentence before putting your release over the wire – it’ll be worth the 10 minutes to make sure it’s accurate.
So, while a lot of the points below may be basic, they’re a good refresher on what to do and what not to do. The next time you have a release to draft, run through these quick points and see if your press release matches up.
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