Whether you work in the PR department for a major firm, run your own company, or are a copywriter who offers press release writing services, you churn out a lot of press releases. In fact, you may have written so many at this point that it has become like that morning drive to work. You know, where you just get in the car and the next thing you know, you’ve arrived… but you can’t remember any of the drive. Scary, right? Your brain went on autopilot. Maybe that’s how press release writing has become for you.
Now some of you may be thinking, “Dang, that sounds great. I wish composing a press release was that easy for me.” Beware, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. See, when things become automatic, when we can sit down at our computer and fire out a release in 10 minutes, when we don’t have to really try when writing that release—well, that’s where it gets dangerous. That’s when you get overconfident. Which leads me to my main piece of advice for composing that millionth press release:
Don’t Get Sloppy
Overconfidence leads to sloppiness. See, when you go on autopilot, you don’t pay attention to the details. And when you don’t pay attention to the details, you make little mistakes. It might be a grammar mistake here, a spelling mistake there. Or worse yet, a fact checking mistake. Yikes! Remember, sometimes all it takes is one bogus release to ruin your credibility, and odds are if you are on that millionth press release, you’ve spent some time working on your reputation. Don’t let a little sloppiness ruin it.
So how can you make sure you don’t get sloppy?
- Revise it…the next day. I know how it goes. You fire out that release and then it’s out of sight, out of mind. The last thing you want to do is read it over. So don’t—not immediately anyway. If you have some time to spare, wait and revisit the release the next morning. Read it over with fresh eyes (and a fresh cup of coffee). You’re more likely to catch mistakes when you come back later. If you try to read it over immediately after you write it, odds are you’re going to get lazy. But make sure you go back and check it over. Never send off an unedited release.
- Start with an outline. You don’t leave for a trip without planning out your itinerary, so why would you start writing a release without an outline? By making sure you know where you’re starting, where you’re going, and how you’re getting there, you can flesh out a solid, cohesive press release. But when you fail to plan, count on yourself to ramble on and possibly lose the meaning behind what you’re writing.
- Read other press releases and take note. Yes, there are a lot of garbage press releases out there. But by reading good releases that get published, you can learn (or remind yourself) of some good techniques. Take note and use them the next time you write your own.
- Read up on press release writing. Along the same lines of my previous point, it’s good to stay up on standard practices, cutting edge writing techniques, and the like. How can you do that? Read about it. You’re already reading my blog—that’s a start. But it’s not just about me. Hit up Google. You’ll find plenty of new stuff to push you further.
Do you write tons of press releases? What do you have to stay sharp when you’ve seen it and done it all?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html