Thursday, February 24, 2005

Release Writing 101

The traditional upside-down pyramid style press release still works. It has always worked. It will always work. For the writer, this means taking the most important information and putting it up front--in the title, subtitle and lead.

Once you nail the news--or point--of the release, work your way down to the next important item, then the next important, then the background information, and end with the details.

Although this approach goes against the grain of making things interesting by saving the best for last, it doesn't work that way in the news business, or in the "business" of business, where time really is money.

People are busier now than ever, so getting the news up front is even more important today. That doesn't mean releases have to be boring. Far from it. With good writing and an eye for news, you can have sizzle, you can even have pop. BUT, no hype.

Don't overdo it and remember to get the news up front--the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

I don't know about you, but for me it's nice to know that in such rapidly changing times, our old friend the upside-down pyramid release still stands.

Other rules for press release writing include:
  • Just the facts, m'am. Present the facts - edit out superfluous words.
  • Keep it short, sweet, and understandable.
  • Get quotes from senior company people outside of marketing, and from customers. Quotes make it real and let the reporter know they may actually have enough fodder for a story.
  • Proofread and remove any unnecessary words.

And you're not done yet… don't forget to FOLLOW THROUGH! Once you've written the release, what do you do?

  • Put it through the APPROVAL process.
  • Release it on the Wire.
  • For a Press Release, post it on the organization's Web site.
  • For real news, have a qualified PR person pitch, pitch, pitch

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