Can a 7th Grader Understand Your Press Release?

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When writing a press release, one of the most important things is to make sure your message gets delivered clearly. That’s why you need to make sure you avoid using jargon and buzzwords in your press releases. The average person won’t understand what you’re saying, and it will kill your press release. This is even more important in this day and age where press releases are often published online and distributed directly to your customers instead of only journalists.

young girlWith that in mind, I’ve found that one of the best ways to make sure my press release will be understood is to ask myself this simple question, “Can a 7th grader understand this?” Various studies show that the average person reads at anywhere from a 6th grade level to an 8th grade level. So, if your press release reads like something out of an elite academic publication, the average person probably won’t be able to understand it.

Simply put, you need to simplify your writing. For some people, this is hard, but it’s the best way to make sure you’re communicating effectively with your audience. Here are a few things you can do to make your press releases a bit easier to read:

  • Avoid buzzwords—Your press release shouldn’t contain B.S. phrases like “creating ubiquitous mindshare” or “leveraging innovative metrics for cross-platform initiatives”. Nobody wants to sift through that kind of tedious writing. And stay away from industry jargon too. Your readers might not know these terms. Keep it simple!
  • Find smaller words—The shorter the word, the easier it probably is to understand. Your press release isn’t the time for you to show off your college vocabulary. Large, complex words make your press release more difficult to read, and they end up causing your message to get lost.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short and to the point—Try to keep your sentences tight and each paragraph to just a few sentences. When people see huge blocks of text, their eyes tend to glaze over and they stop reading effectively. This is even more important online as internet users tend to scan rather than read text word for word.
  • Use tools to grade your writing’s readability—The Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Level is a tools used to measure the readability of your writing. When you run your press release through this tool, it will instantly tell you what grade level it was written at. This blog post, for example, is written at an 11th grade level, and because we aren’t just targeting the average person, that’s great. I’m not saying that every press release you write needs to be at a 7th grade level, but if you’re getting a score of 17 (the reading level of someone who has completed high school plus 5 years of college) you might need to make some adjustments.

Do you think your press releases are easy to read and understand?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, 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:

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