Press releases need more editing than most written pieces in order for them to be clear and effective. With this in mind here are 7 top tips for editing your press release.
The most important part of writing anything is the editing process and this includes your press releases. You can put hundreds of words down and they won't be worth much unless you take your time to go back, look at your work and edit it completely.
1. Read it out loud to yourself or someone else
The best way to really take in what you have written is to hear yourself saying it out loud. Sometimes this what it takes to notice formatting errors, grammar or phrasing. You might realise that you have made a mistake you never would have noticed before if you are just reading through your writing yourself.
2. Adverbs are the enemy
Stephen King, master horror writer once said: "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops". Combining a verb with any '-ly' word makes your sentence weaker. The easy remedy to this is using a stronger verb for example: instead of saying something is "really good" use great, exciting or incredible. Adverbs will almost always make your writing weaker, so when you can avoid them, do.
3. Take your time
If at all possible take your time when you are writing to check over what you are writing as you go. This one is obviously easier said than done when you are working in a high-pressure environment. Even give yourself an extra five minutes to get the job done. Find those five minutes where you can and use them to your advantage to make sure your press release is perfect.
4. Keep it concise
Keep your press releases on point. The journalists you are contacting do not want to be sifting through reams of text to find the key points you are trying to communicate. With that in mind, get your scissors and start cutting out unnecessary sentences and filler phrases. Flowery language has a time and a place, but not in your press releases.
5. No more negative Nancy
Avoid negative language in your press releases. In most releases, there won't be any need for it anyway. If you're trying to promote your business or your cause then really it should be nothing but optimism. So put negative nancy away and keep it positive for your press releases, even if that means poring over everything with a red pen.
6. Keep an eye on your commas
Commas, quotations and other punctuation can be tricky to get right but are hugely important. Pick up a copy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss and you will realise just how important punctuation is. Programmes like Grammarly can help you with this and will catch grammatical errors that often traditional word processors will miss. It may be hard for you to notice in your own writing if a comma or two is out of place but someone else reading your writing may pick up on your punctuation errors so it's important to get it right with any help you need.
7. Take one last look at your subject line
Your subject line is the most important part of your press release by far so it deserves at least a second glance, so before you hit send have one last look. Your subject line needs to be informative but leave journalists wanting to read more.Editing is the most important part of writing. Checking and double checking your work are crucial particularly when you are trying to keep your writing clear, concise and to the point.
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Jack is a media innovator with over 20 years’ experience at the most senior level in the Irish communications industry. He has worked in marketing, journalism, and media relations. He is a former political spokesperson and government advisor, as well as an award-winning corporate PR practitioner.
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