Many people don’t realise, especially when starting out in the PR industry, that writing is a huge aspect of the job. PR pros spend a lot of their time writing, from media materials to business pitches and client briefs to social media copy, there are conjugated verbs and similes flying all over the place! However, when it comes to pleasing clients and securing the always important media coverage, the press release is the most important weapon in your wordsmith arsenal. We’ve put together some top tips for press release writing below, so let’s get to it…..
Attention grabbing – Your press release headline and the subsequent sub-headline are key to getting a journalist's attention. The headline must encapsulate the core message of the release, the most newsworthy angle. With that in mind, you should probably write the headline last, after you’ve taken the time to really delve in to the material and get a good feel for what will be most relevant to the media. The more interesting the headline the more successful it will be.
Editorial – PR writing should never be overly commercial, the entire point of media relations is to get your client’s message in to editorial pages by utilising relevant newsworthy content. Don’t make the mistake of mixing up advertising copy with media copy, think of the press release as the bones of an interesting article, something you would be interested in reading. The content you’re creating is being built to connect with the target consumer through the media, so keep the “selling” to a minimum and let the content speak for itself.
Adaptability – Working in an agency can see PR pros flipping from writing fashion copy in the morning to corporate copy in the afternoon, being able to change up your writing style is imperative to working across different sectors. Always keep in mind that the journalist and the consumer reader don’t want to hear your personal tone in the copy they read, they want to hear the brand that they connect with. Everyone has their own style of writing, which is fine, but being able to adapt your voice to create effective copy for clients is crucial.
Get to the point – Discard superfluous adjectives immediately! The journalist is not going to be impressed with your enhanced vocabulary, they’re just going to be exasperated that it took you nine paragraphs to say something that could have been condensed to four. Keep your copy snappy, don’t go off on tangents and stay on track with the core message of the release your prepping. A good rule is to write the release, put it aside for a few minutes, go back to it and if you can’t scan it in 30 seconds and pick up the gist, then it’s time to edit!
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