On MyPE we have a section allowing Port Elizabeth companies and individuals to submit news and press releases. Now there is an art to doing so and we often refer people to local PR companies for assistance. A writer of professional press releases, Claudio Milo, has kindly provided these additional tips:
- Sell it in the headline: Your headline is the most important – make sure your headline is short, catchy and to the point. Don’t bother trying to be clever in your headline, unless it’s an excellent play on words or a variation of a well-known saying. However, even a play on words (puns, etc.) don’t always work because, let’s face it, your target market may not be as bright as you are.
- Keep it simple: Just like your headline, you should make sure that the body of your text is simple. Yes, talented writers can easily come up with awesome language that will showcase their brilliance and Heaven-given talent, but for a press release, showing your talent means writing for people who don’t necessarily find reading a first hobby. No, so keep it simple and to the point. Save your talent and cleverness for a novel. When it comes to press releases, be sure to write for an audience who will actually read what you write. Ask yourself, “Will my aunt read this?
- Make it newsworthy: Even if your piece is not newsworthy – and in my experience, most press releases are not newsworthy – you must still try make it newsworthy. Perhaps there’s some political link you can add into the release that will create some newsworthiness to it. It’s really about bringing something new to your reader. So think about your topic and try add a spin on it that seems new and relevant.
- Throw in little facts: If you are writing for a company that sells refrigerators, it can be boring. Throw in little facts and make it sound interesting. For example, if the product sold 500 units in its first day, write it. Give numbers and facts wherever you can. Also, find research that can backup your release. Find unique ways to incorporate a psychological study.
- Throw in quotes: For some reason people trust other people. Add in quotations about your product from other customers. Or give an angle that has a human interest to it—people love stories.
- Call to action: Do not forget the boilerplate – this is at the bottom of the page in which you give all your contact details. Remember to include them. If a journalist cannot find your details, he or she will not bother to search for you; there are thousands of releases coming through every day.
- Check grammar: Grammar is essential. Remember, your press release will be distributed or syndicated to journalists. The slightest error will ruin your reputation. Ensure your grammar is proof-checked three times, at least. Get someone else to read it before submitting it. Do not overlook this; journalists, who will publish or not, will definitely not overlook this. Remember also that if a company has bad grammar or spelling errors, the credibility is naturally lost. Think about it for a second – if you are a customer and you see obvious errors of spelling in the pamphlet or advertising, you will think what ever service they offer or what ever product they sell, must indeed be poor. So check!
- Language: The language you use is important. Try to avoid adjectives, try to include verbs. Avoid commas when you can – use rather an em-dash. There is a science to this in that researches have found the flow of a reader’s eye. Readers will not find the release flowing if there are many commas or punctuation marks. One last important point, make sure each paragraph has ONE idea only.
That’s it. Hope this helps.
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