A press release is an essential document when one wants to propagate certain information. Many occasions come in the life of a company, organization or a celebrity when they need to get a great press release prepared. A perfect press release can grab the attention of a media person. A poorly constructed press release, however, may end put straight into the dustbin. After all, it is a tiring job for editors and journalists to deal with dozens of press releasing hitting their desk on a daily basis.
As a media person for last 20 years, and as a man behind highly respected multimedia company Mangrol Multimedia, I regularly come across several press releases. My company also translates press releases from one language to another. This exercise has given me a fair idea of what a good press release can be. I want to share few thoughts on it with you all. Here I go.
Be precise, to-the-point and simple:
Ideally, a press release should always start with the most important announcement it intends to make. No need to be imaginative here or to draft it like a story.
Consider this sentence.
“A leading player in the garment sector ABC Company Limited is setting up a new plant in Gujarat by December 2016.”
Now, read this:
“ABC Company Limited, one of the most renowned and leading players in the Indian garment sector, tipped to grow at a CAGR of 20% in mid-term, is setting up a new, state-of-the-art plant in Gujarat, India by December 2016.”
A simple stuff conveyed in 21 words has got stretched up to 39 words here. Maybe terms like, ‘most renowned and leading’, or information like, ‘tipped to grow at CAGR of 20% in mid-term’, are important in press release context, but they can wait. The opening should always be clean, easy to read and grasp. The simpler the opening sentences, the better.
No lengthy sentences, please
Many people have a habit of running sentences too long. They use semi-columns, commas, and such things while writing sentences. Another nasty use they make is of the word AND. It happens because of excitement and a feeling of telling everything at once.
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has left for the United Kingdom on Monday on an official visit and he is expected to meet their leaders of the House of Commons as well as Indian Diaspora while also holding important conferences with business leaders of the nation during his 4-day visit.” That’s too much packed in one sentence, without giving any respite to readers! Why the same thing can’t be told with a break, in three or four sentences?
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has left for the United Kingdom on Monday. He is an official 4-day visit of the nation. Modi is expected to meet leaders of the House of Commons while in the UK. Besides, he will interact with Indian Diaspora and hold conferences with business leaders.”
Better, isn’t it? Remember, we feel irritated if we come across too lengthy sentences. The same thing happens to others also.
Lengthy sentences are difficult to translate. The grammar of different languages is different. Even a seasoned translator feels frustrated and lost midway when she has to deal with a too long sentence. So, it is imperative to remember that the original press release, usually written in English, will get justice in other Indian and foreign languages when it is well-written with smaller sentences.
Under 500 words, please!
This is very important for almost all press releases. A journalist feels that a long press release is a nasty thing. An exception can be there but in seldom and special cases only. Usually, the length of a press release goes out of proportion due to reasons like telling things which can be skipped, or repeating one and the same thing for no reasons.
Check this out:
“India’s leading construction house XYZ Builders Limited, having headquarters in New Delhi, has bought a huge land in Lucknow recently. According to sources, the pioneer construction major is planning to build a residential complex consisting of 100 buildings there along with a shopping mall, a garden and an amphitheatre which will add shine to already happening city of Lucknow. XYZ Builders Limited, one of the top 100 realty companies of India and one of the fastest growing constructions houses of Asia-Pacific, was recently conferred with a prestigious award of Growing Star of Asia by PQRS, which is a leading realty consultancy based out of Singapore…”
In this detailed paragraph, one can see that many things could have been avoided. It has also included many things which journalists usually know and do not want to be hammered with it. It also shifts focus from Lucknow project to award which is not done.
Separation with sophistication
Writing is an art and art often demands simplicity. Simplicity happens with proper separation of content and sophistication when required. Don’t always try to raise the bar of your writing talent while writing a press release. Better try to simplify it. It can be done with straightforward sentences and smaller paragraphs. While quoting someone, please make sure you are sharing her views in an effortless way. A great quote is made of fewer words and we all know it. When required, you can also split the matter of a press release into pieces with sub-headings. This is usually done while writing, “About so and so organization” and there is no harm doing it for other secondary important stuff as well.
Presentation is a must
A great press release always has a catchy presentation. From well formatted heading to sub-headings as required, quotes that can be made out even in an overview, to a communication link for further information are integral parts of a perfect press release. However, there is no need to unnecessarily highlight something, or tweak font size or style every other sentence. Also, unnecessary centre alignment and such things should be avoided. With lesser and easy to understand words, simpler way of the conveying message and easy format, a press release can do what it is intended to do.