Writing Suitable Copy for the Press
By Carolyn Moncel
Summer is finally here and school is out, but learning for the rest
of us continues. Whether you're a seasoned PR professional working
for a top agency, a novice just beginning a career, or a mid-level
manager working in-house at a small business, the time comes when
we all could use a refresher course in properly writing suitable
copy for the press.
My lesson occurred recently upon reading an interesting interview
with retired Wall Street Journal assistant managing editor, Paul
R. Martin, Sr., in The Bulldog Reporter, a public relations trade
newsletter. Reporters and public relations professionals alike
greatly admire Mr. Martin's experience, and they should because
his advice for avoiding common writing mistakes is the best primer
available for writing great press releases.
Allow me to share with you what I learned: ·
a.. Keep your press release short and simple. Try to use one
word instead of two, and ask yourself if what you've written is
redundant. If in doubt, have a colleague or friend read your release.
Reporters want to understand your key points immediately. They
don't want to call you multiple times for clarification. ·
b.. Write plainly and avoid company-insider phrases, clichés
or industry-specific jargon. Unless you are targeting the trade
press, avoid all jargon because it has have no meaning outside
of the company or industry. An example phrase would be "state
of the art."
c.. Do not capitalize titles to elevate your boss or company.
Never capitalize titles like "President" or "Chairman".
Capped titles should only be applied to things like the names
of countries or political heads of State.
d.. Refrain from creating new words or phrases. Instead of saying,
"grow the economy" verbs like 'expand,' or 'increase,'
still work just as well. e.. Write in active voice. Remember that
no one likes to read poorly written copy. Brush up on your grammar
and never use the passive voice, which is boring.
Whether you are a PR professional or a small-business owner writing
press releases in-house, you must know how the media writes. Keep
in mind that journalists expect the quality level and same attention
to detail in your copy that their editors demand from their own
stories. If you violate these rules, here is yet another instance
where your release will receive a one-way trip to the reporter's
Notable PR Resources:
The Bulldog Reporter
to Publicity, Public Relations, Press Releases PR tutorial index
Steven R. Van Hook's All About Public Relations
Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is president and founder of Mondave Communications,
a global marketing and communications firm based in Chicago and
Paris, and a subsidiary of MotionTemps, LLC. Contact her at email@example.com
or by phone in the United States at 877.815.0167 or 011.331.4997.9059