Monday, April 09, 2012

Press Releases: Cutting Through Clutter and Sharing Useful Content

Posted by Leah Ludwig

No matter the industry, if you want to promote the good work of your business and its offerings you must be able to compile engaging promotional copy. One communications tool to do so is the almighty press release.

In the past few days, I have read a several blogs that collectively assist all of us promotional copy writers in getting to the point, catching our readers’ attention and trimming the boring content out of an otherwise average press release, to make it worthy of attention.

Starting with the headline of your release,’s Mark Nichol shared “8 simple, yet powerful types of headlines.” In his blog, Mark identifies different approaches to making your headline stand out and supplies some helpful examples – see a few of them below.

• Direct: Lawn Mowers on Sale
• News: Remote-Control Lawn Mower to Debut in April
• How-to: How to Select the Best Lawn Mower for Your Yard
• Question: Is Your Lawn Mower the Right One for the Job?
• Command: Go to Lawn Mowers R Us for the Best Deals

Bottom line: keep your headlines concise (no more than 10 words). Also, search for originality. Mark encourages writers to “copy and paste your final draft into a search engine. If it comes up, consider altering one or more words or starting over again.”

Andrew Hindes’ insightful article “PR With Benefits: What 'Mad Men' Can Teach Us About Writing Press Releases” shared in PR News helps us to really think about the overall message of release content. Andrew compares journalist messaging to advertisements and addresses how ad copywriters, as featured on the show Mad Men, have turned that kind of persuasion into both an art and a science.

The main point that Andrew drives home is that the benefits of a product or service are far more compelling to potential customers than its features. You may wonder, what’s the difference? Andrew explains that “features describe the positive qualities of a product or service. Benefits describe the ways those qualities positively affect the consumer—usually by making his or her life better or easier.” So, when writing your next release, make sure you clearly explain how your product or service makes your customers' lives simpler.

And last, but certainly not least, another struggle that press release writers face is keeping it short and simple.’s Laura Hale Brockway shared a blog about the “20 phrases you can replace with one word.” She talks about how circumlocution is the use of many words when one will do – which is so prevalent in today’s corporate writing. Check out her list of redundant phrases by going to her blog post.

So don’t forget: keep you headline short and impactful; make sure your content speaks to the benefits that you are bringing to your audience; and keep it concise and to-the-point.

1 comment:

LisaBeth Weber said...

Great content Leah. It's so important to keep in mind the how/what/where/when/why, etc., along with "short and sweet" in this saturated information zone. I do find that sometimes there is a time/place for going a bit longer, but only when appropriate.
all best,