Style in a Press Release
For a press release to stand a chance of being printed, verbatim, by the news media, it must be well written and factually accurate. Hyperbole, cute spins, and overt sales pitches are not acceptable. Here are some style guidelines for writing effective press releases.
- State the Facts - Avoid being vague. Instead of announcing "wonderful results," say that you have "a $1.2B profit to report."
- Stick to the Facts - Don't hesitate to show the kind of feelings that the general public expects in a time of crisis, but don't overdo it.
- Apologize - Say you're sorry when a mistake has been made. When people are suffering as a result, say that you care, and mean it.
- Emotions - Avoid strong expressions. Boasting and bragging, anger and finger-pointing, etc., are all inappropriate. A clever way around this no-no is the quotation.
Keep it Simple - Make sure the news you are reporting is not obscured by technical jargon or complicated grammatical constructions.
Example: Knowledge tool, rapid results implementation approach and services deliver maximum value throughout PeopleSoft lifecycle
PeopleSoft today announced general availability of PeopleSoft Advantage, a framework of technology and customer service designed to provide maximum value of ownership throughout the PeopleSoft systems lifecycle, including planning, implementation, production and enhancement.
- Example: Knowledge tool, rapid results implementation approach and services deliver maximum value throughout PeopleSoft lifecycle
- Be Specific - Place and time cannot be vague. Words such as here and today are not acceptable. They are inadequate for the job of reporting a news event or story.
Avoid Personal Pronouns - Words such as I, we and you should not be used in a press release unless they are part of a quotation.
Don't Do Today… On April 24, 2004… We, here in our factory… Bekaert, a world-wide leader in steel,…in its Manchester-based factory… We expect our profit last year was… The consolidated profit for 2002 is estimated to be… We have made a profit again… The company has returned a profit despite the difficult economic situation…