We need to deliver oven-ready news”

I’ve said it so many times over the course of my 20 plus years in PR. It’s what I tell clients who want a press release written in long, marketing-friendly jargon, with too many clauses linked too tenuously together. With too many claims in the body copy and too few facts to support them.

It’s the opposite of what you need.

It’s vital that a news editor reads your press release, and doesn’t glaze over at the sight of a dozen portly paragraphs packed with protracted prose. They’ll classify it, quite rightly, as PR guff.

Of course your PR material should support your marketing efforts. The two must act in concert. While they’re different tactics, they should be chasing the same strategic goal.

But the story needs to be conveyed differently.

For every fact a client wants to convey, there are probably four different claims that an A-grade CMO wants to share with their audience. Because if the reader, they tell me, only knew this, they’d want to engage our X service. They’d be keener to sign-up for our Y product. And yes, yes! – we do know journalists are short on time… But what if…?

“Trust me!”
I say. Possibly interrupting. Or at least holding up my hand. Having worked in the industry since 2001, I have some inkling about what sort of content is going to get run in a news story. I understand the human desire to add more. And more.

But short, snappy press releases delivered as “oven-ready news” win every time. Long and loopy fails.

But James, doesn’t making it so ‘short and snappy’ create a really easy task for you?
Am I paying my PR guy money to compose a few words in order to explain every genius benefit of this new launch? Are we getting our message across if we don’t use the words “bespoke”, “solutions”, and “leading” in the first two lines?
Are we letting you off the hook?

Me (or any PR worth their salt):
It’s not easy to pin down the pertinent.
To nail the slippery.
To capture the crux.
And, joking aside, any good journalist (and I know a few) will tell you this:
“It’s harder to to cut down epic sentences that have been artificially stitched together; to fillet out a multitude of descriptors; and to rewrite the entire release to convey a story succinctly — than it is to just can the release altogether and move on to something else”.

Because, unlike your marketing copy (which may be excellent, by the way, and entirely fit for its own purpose), the words used in a press release need to pass through a journalistic filter in order to be read by your ultimate audience. And if you push it too hard, your press release will not make it through that filter. And in that case, what’s the point in writing it in the first place?

It is, essentially, counter-productive. A press release is a marketing tool, sure. But it’s still a release for the press — not your own marketing department.

Different audience. Different style.

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