Wednesday, August 29, 2012

BizMojo wants to hear from you; here are some tips for telling your story

Given the number of press releases I have seen in my lifetime, I can offer a few suggestions on how to write one that's effective.

Why am I addressing this topic? Because, in order that I may keep this blog as current and full of information as possible, I want to see press releases. Although I can whittle a pageful of words down to three, two or even one paragraph, I'd prefer what comes into my in-box to be well-written and to the point.

Here are a few tips:

Proofread your work before you send it in. I have corrected plenty of spelling and grammar mistakes, but extra care in this department means you really care about your cause or business. Go over what you’ve written a few times, and then let someone else read it. 
(Note: There are a lot of people less tolerant of this than I am.)

Don't try to load your copy with keywords. I know a lot of people are obsessed with search engine optimization, but a story loaded with verbiage is more likely to get tossed. My dad used to have a card above his Olympia typewriter that said "Omit That Fat!" Great advice for any writer. Also, you might be interested to know that Google is far more likely to reward something that reads like it was written by a literate human than something that's trying to push its buttons.

Keep the sales language to a minimum. Commercials and ads are designed to sell. The purpose of a press release is to inform.

Keep your quantity in check. Familiarity breeds contempt, so if you send too many releases you're going to be dismissed out of hand. If someone gets a promotion, if there's a new hire or someone receives an award, we want to know about it. If someone has done an exceptional job of keeping his desk clean, it's not news. Unless of course it's me.

Keep it newsy. Who, what, when, where and how.

Avoid jargon. When was the last time you turned to the dictionary while you were reading a paper or browsing the Web? Do you think anyone else is?

Focus on your headline. If you've got something unique to relate, make your headline reflect it.

Anything you have to send should be sent to