5 (More) Tips for Writing Knife-sharp Press Releases
A few weeks back I wrote a guide on writing press releases, 5 Tricks for Writing a Killer Press Release, that ended up being a popular piece for the site. It's always exciting when I write something that catches with you all, and I'm glad to help improve your business (that is what I'm here for after all). I thought today would be a good time for a follow-up piece, so if you're (still) looking to improve your company's P.R., here are five more pointers for writing clean, pointed and effective press releases:
1. Use Direct, Simple Language as Much as Possible
In my last post I talked about trimming up your headlines so they're as clear and concise as possible. Still good advice, but really the rule should be applied to the whole of your release, not just the headline. Keep your sentences easy to read by using simple, short verbs and adjectives. Avoid using jargon and industry slang unless your intended readers use such terminology commonly. If a sentence seems too long and complicated, it probably is. Break it up into pieces, rewrite it, do whatever is necessary to make sure you're expressing yourself clearly and quickly. Example:
"Alagash Tennembaum, a particularly dapper and handsome-tastic sales wizard, has finally leapt on board Marketer Squad 6, bringing his sassy, sometimes-nonsense business acumen to our company's 13-star growth strategy."
... is awful.
"Alagash Tennembaum has recently joined the Marketer Squad Six Family. Fun-loving and experienced, Alagash will no doubt excel at fulfilling our company mission of serving our customers in a friendly, caring and intelligent manner."
... is much better.
2. Avoid Empty Adjectives and Phrases
"Important." "Interesting." "Vital." There are a handful of words and phrases out there that, while commonly used, mean almost nothing by themselves. Telling your reader that something is "important" means nothing unless you also explain the why of its importance. Compare these two sentences:
"Super Co.'s new CRM is very important to the growth of our business."
"Super Co.'s new CRM is very important to the growth of our business because it streamlines our technical and order support into a single fast, easy-to-use system that enables us to treat each and every one of our customers even better than before."
While the second sentence is clearly better, we can improve it further. Following point #1 above, we can trim the second sentence to something like this:
"Super Co.'s new CRM streamlines our technical and order support into a single fast, easy-to-use system that helps us treat every one of our customers even better than before."
See how the removal of the "is very important to the growth of our business" chunk of that sentence doesn't cost it any of its meaning? You don't need to tell someone something is important if you're also telling them the "why" of the importance. Which reminds me ...
3. Always Explain to the Reader Why Your News Matters to Them
I see so many press releases that read something like:
Joe's Promos has hired two new sales reps, Janey Joe and Combover Pete. Janey Joe has been the industry 4 years, and Combover Pete loves cats and college hockey. Okay later guys! Joe's Promos 4 Lyfe!!!!
Why would anyone care about that news, let alone open the email it was sent in? Always try to frame your news in a way that explains the value of your news to your intended readers. A press release titled and framed around the idea of "Joe's Promos Strengthens its Customer Service Yet Again," furthers your message and engages your customers much better than "Well we hired two new people that you've never heard of, so that's cool I guess."
4. Cut the Fat From Your "About" Section
The "about our company" section at the bottom of your press releases doesn't need to contain your company's life story. Keep it short and relevant, limiting any bragging to the most impressive, factual details you have. Something like:
In business since 1777, Forms Utopia has grown from a Revolutionary War printing press to an international forms superstore that offers over 6 billion kinds of forms and printing services. It has repeatedly won numerous prestigious awards, including Promo Marketing's Top Suppliers award, Inc. Magazine's Best Places to Work, and the Better at Basketball than Michael Jordan, Awarded By Michael Jordan Himself award. For more information, visit www.formsutopia.com or call 555-555-5555.
... is fine. Anything much longer risks cluttering your message or boring everyone reading it to death.
5. Keep Fancy Formatting Effects Out of Your Message
The "awesome" thing about cute formatting in email is that it can break, depending on the reader's email client and how up-to-date/good it is overall. Purple text, weird fonts and embedded images can all cause problems for your email readability, depending if the receiving email program can read them or not. If the clients' readers can't decipher your effects, your fancy custom font will likely break into something like "hAl, wEcome to''' R NewsLetter 000." Write in common word processor fonts, with minimal flourish, to avoid broken text. When in doubt, use Notepad or TextEdit to convert a message into "plain text" first (this will strip all HTML and other formatting out of your message).
That's all for this week guys! Thanks for reading, and see you all in two weeks (We have Memorial Day off woo!)
MONDAY MIKE FACT: Had some of the best mussels of my life this weekend. If you're in the Philly area, do yourself a favor and go to Bistro La Minette at 6th and Bainbridge.