Stuart Pearcey
Words and Spaces Ltd
Mon,6th November, 2017

No business should ever hide its light under a bushel. It should take every opportunity to shout out about its achievements.
But a press release is the wrong way to think about sharing that pride. That's because 'press' - the print media - is a tiny fraction of the space in which your audience gets its news. Think 'media release' instead, and you'll make a better job if the task in hand.
Think of press by all means, but add in radio, TV, and social media in all its forms, and prepare your text in a way that suits them all.

Publicity begins at home
Create a news page on your web site. Post regularly to it. Create Social media links to it, and post those.
The 'post regularly' part is important. I look a scores of company news pages on the web, and some are notoriously bad at posting good news. One in particular comes to mind; there have been no new posts since July 2016. I refuse to believe the company has had nothing exciting to share in 15 months.

What to write
Be objective. This is not an advert. It's a statement of facts and your company reaction to them.
Avoid qualifiers. Don't tell me your business is the 'leading' this or that. Don't tell me you're 'award-winning' (unless your release is about winning an award). The facts you write into your story should do that.
Don't say local. 'Local' has no meaning any more, unless you're talking about anaesthetic, because of the reach of modern media. What's local to you isn't necessarily local to me. Be more specific. Say 'Bristol area' or 'Lake District'. And leave out other wasted words. Cut to the chase and tell the story.
Don't patronise. If you're talking about the national health service, there's no need to write NHS in brackets after it. But later in the story, feel free to put NHS. Your readers will understand. No-one puts British Broadcasting Corporation when they mean BBC, or Member of Parliament when they mean MP. Readers already know. Inclusion of bracketed caps is a tool of academic writing, and has no place in writing for media releases. I recall a release talking about two organisations whose initials were LCC. By the end of it I had no idea who was doing what to whom, or why, and the story went into the bin.
Don't waffle on. If you're introducing a direct quote, don't preface it with a phrase like 'commenting on the announcement, Mr Smith said: "... The quote should make it obvious that he's commenting.
Just let him (or her) say it. When attributing direct quotes, 'he/she said' is fine. There's no need to find other options like commented or explained.
Don't be delighted. More than 90% of the releases I read tell me, in direct quotes, that someone is delighted about something. Well, they would be, wouldn't they? The phrase is a waste of space. Have them me why they're delighted; what difference the announcement will make, and why. I've never yet seen a release about an appointment, for instance, that says: "I'm not delighted about employing him, but he was the least useless of a bad bunch."
Learn grammar. Work out the difference between its and it's. Use the right one. Understand the function of a comma as an aid to the reader's understanding of your text. Learn the function of an apostrophe, and the difference between singular and plural possessives. All of these things (and more) make your message easier to understand. Remember that failure to use language correctly could suggest you're not so hot on accuracy is whatever your business is. Quality should influence all areas of your business.

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