Okay, I admit it. Most press releases are boring. But why? What makes most press releases suck so bad that no one wants to read them and they end up in the trash? Well, to be honest, it isn’t necessarily the content. You can have the most interesting news in the world, but if you don’t know how to write a bang up release, well, no one will read it.
That said, one way to make your press release stand out is to write in the active voice. However, most people tend to stick to passive writing. Now maybe you have no clue as to what I’m talking about here. That’s okay. Read on and I’ll explain—and you can become a better press release writer!
What is Passive Voice?
In a passive sentence, the subject of the sentence receives the action rather than performs the action. For example: “The girl was sad about her deceased dog.” Notice that the girl, who is the subject of this sentence, receives a feeling. The only verb is “was,” which isn’t exactly an action packed verb.
What is Active Voice?
Active voice switches things around and has the subject do the action. Let’s take a look at the active version of the above sentence: “Sadness drew a veil over the girl, as she mourned the death of her dog.” We flipped the sentence around and made sadness the subject of the sentence and had it perform an action. The result? A more complex sentence that is more likely to capture a reader’s interest.
Why Do Most People Write in the Passive Voice?
- It comes more naturally. Think about how you talk. For whatever reason, we tend to use the passive voice in conversation.
- It helps avoid responsibility. Think about this sentence: “The advertisement was made to make the candidate look bad.” Who takes the blame here? But let’s reword it into active voice: “We created the advertisement to make the candidate look bad.” Suddenly, someone has to take responsibility and it’s obvious. Companies use this technique all the time to try and not look like bad guys.
- It makes sentences longer. More often than not, when writing advertisements and press releases, we may feel the need to meet a certain word count. In these cases, switching to passive voice helps create longer, albeit, less exciting sentences.
What Makes the Active Voice So Much Better?
Simply put, active voice sounds better. By making the subject of your sentence actually do the action rather than receive it, your sentence will sound more powerful, which makes it more engaging. Believe it or not, if your press release is full of active sentences, people will be more likely to read it all the way through. It will flow better and hit them with 1-2-3 punches.
Why are you writing press releases? Is it to meet some predetermined word count? Is it to wow readers with sentence complexity? Of course not. Press releases are better off short and sweet. And we aren’t poets here, trying to confuse our readers in order to make them take a deeper look inward.
No, we want to deliver a press release that is straight to the point, wasting no words. We want something powerful that makes people take notice. We want to tell interesting stories. We want them actively engaged in what we are saying.
All of these things can be achieved when you write in the active voice.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab three ebooks, including My Facebook Formula, a free report on Facebook and why you should be using the largest social network for your business, here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/freebooks.html