Over the course of my career, I have written hundreds of press releases and reviewed and edited even more. Over that time, I have come to appreciate one thing more than anything else in a press release: simplicity. Companies often want their press releases to read like marketing materials for the C-suite. However, in doing so, the releases often get bogged down with hyperbole, big words, and quotes from every partner, analyst and company executive. The result: a press release that may seem impressive to a product manager or other internal stakeholder, but one that makes little to no sense outside of the walls of your organisation.
The headline and first two paragraphs are the most critical parts of any press release. We often lose credibility by using too much marketing speak. It is imperative to keep the release simple if you want people to read it and take away your key messages. For example, if it is a new product release, state what you are launching and the primary benefits in simple terms up front. Keep your sentences short and crisp, and use strong verbs to create excitement. Unfortunately, many companies can’t resist the lure of using many of the terms they use in a product launch roadmap or PowerPoint presentation.
There is an art to writing a press release. It often requires you to fit a lot of information into several paragraphs while still ensuring the content is easy to read. Use of jargon, long words and sentences and overused phrases can detract from your message and make it difficult for you to hold readers’ attention. Continually working to improve your writing will help you hone your skills and produce high-quality press releases that secure media coverage and position your organisation in a positive light.
Some of the most over-used, and unnecessary terms, that diminish the readability (and credibility) of a press release include:
Solution is a word that is over used in technology press releases in particular. However, it is vague and hackney. Journalists have complained about its use more than any other term. Companies often add the word after a product name when it is not needed. Speaking of which . . .
This word is frequently added after a product line name, but it adds no value or meaning to the statement. Simply omit from any copy and you will see that the description will be clearer, shorter and easier for a reader to understand.
Using the word innovative to describe a product is one of the most common and least effective ways to show innovation. Call out the industry-firsts and compelling reasons why your product or service is innovative rather than saying so. If your product truly is innovative, then illustrate why.
Remember that your press release is intended for your customers and prospects. “Best-in-class” is an example of marketing speak that is better suited for the product datasheet, PowerPoint presentation and other marketing materials.
I have seen this term used in front of words like innovative, and it detracts from the statement’s credibility. If you are saying it “truly is” then is everything else in the release false?
Writing a press release often requires us to rethink how we typically speak and to adjust the copy to make it more straightforward. For example, you likely say “use” in conversation. It’s simpler, shorter and a more effective verb. Another example that you can consider dropping is “in order to” in favor of “to.” What others would you add to the list?
This is one of the most boring and least effective ways to open a press release. No one cares if you are “pleased” to announce something. In fact, it goes without saying that your company is excited to be launching a new product, service or initiative. Rather, state that you are “launching” or “introducing” something, or better yet, think of a more active/powerful verb based on the company news. The first few sentences of your press release are key for laying out the most important information and also capturing readers’ attention. Don’t waste space with language like this.
While issuing a press release that is too long and difficult to understand will result in poor coverage, more importantly, it will be ineffective in delivering your key messages. Remember that your prospects, customers, investors and other stakeholders don’t have time to read every paragraph and slog through every descriptor and adjective to discern the news. Simplifying your release will not only increase your chances for coverage, but it will also get your message across more clearly.
Wondering how to write a press release that effectively promotes your brand and its initiatives? Start on a new marketing path today with help from Mulberry. Contact us to discuss your organisation’s needs and goals.
Matt Serra is the CEO of Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. He has 20+ years of experience overseeing global and regional B2B campaigns.