Five top tips

Before you start writing your news release, sift your information into three mental piles: Surprising. Important. Useful. Review your notes for the most articulate quotes and build a skeleton to flesh out with words. Now crack on with it …

Construct a great introduction

Spend extra time on the beginning of your piece. The capacity of your lead-in to grab a reader’s interest will determine whether anyone will bother reading further or not. Aim for a conversational ‘inclusive’ tone. You might want to start with “let’s (consider)” or “here’s (the deal)” for a chatty, informal tone.

Ensure your six sacred elements – who, what, where, when, why, and how – are covered within the first two paragraphs of your piece. News, especially, requires a hierarchy of relevant information upfront.

Keep it short.

  • Write what you want to say. Get it all down. Now cut it. Where have you used three or more words when one will do? For example, replace “Is of the opinion” with “believes”.
  • Use nouns and verbs rather than adjectives and adverbs that point to lazy writing. Carefully-observed details and well-chosen verbs make a stronger impression. She walked slowly? Use “trudged” rather. Words that end in ‘ly – partly, happily, hopefully, really, virtually, and so on are best avoided, being .(invariably) superfluous.
  • Make yourself a cup of coffee. Take a break. Come back and read it again. Does every word count? Are you sure? Good. Cut it again by a third!

Get active

  • Passive sentences lack strength and emphasis. The words limp. Active sentences march across the page. Passive: The car was seen speeding towards spectators. Active: The spectators saw the car speeding towards them.

“The adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.” – William Strunk and E.B. White, Elements of Style.

Never repeat. Deepen

Too much info will only overwhelm and distance your reader. This is most often seen with quotes. The CEO said he was going to cut back on staff. “I am going to cut back on staff,” said the CEO. (You don’t say, muttered the Ed, hitting the delete button)

Rather embellish on reasons for doing so. Quotes are there to enhance, rather than form the substance of your story. The quotes you do use must always be attributed. Never make readers guess who is talking.

Avoid author intrusion:

Don’t over quote when your own prose might better a mood but, that said, leave your opinion out of your press release. Shun phrases like: “Firstly I’d just like to say …” or “In my view …” or ‘only’ or ‘a whopping’ when proposing price increases.