Make every word count

pressme-clock-01Give your press release the best chance

When you email a press release to a publication, a journalist will look at the subject heading first.

If they don’t delete it, they’ll open the email and look at the headline and maybe read the first sentence or two.

If they haven’t deleted the email and they read on, you’ve caught their interest.

This shows that every word has to count.

Cut any padding

If there’s any waffle or padding, you’ll lose that interest.

When you’ve written your press release, check that every sentence makes a point.

Cut any that don’t make a specific point and trim any irrelevant words.

Keep your message clear

When you make every word count, your message will shine through.

What is the best file format for sending a press release?

I’ve just received a press release embedded in a PDF. It’s deadline day and to get the news in for the next issue I have to edit the text fast. I’ve got to open up the PDF and export the text or copy it.

Sometimes it works well and sometimes it picks up formatting, line breaks and other odd characters that need deleting or sorting out. It takes time and takes my attention away from the story. I could be phoning the sender to ask more questions instead of fiddling about on my laptop.

As a newspaper journalist how do I prefer to receive press releases?

In my experience, the best format for sending a press release is as the body text of an email. I can copy this and paste it straight into a text editor or word processing package.

The first thing I do is get rid of any text formatting, so don’t use fancy typefaces: often they simply make a press release more difficult to read.

How do I like to receive photos?

Just as text in PDFs can be awkward to extract so photos can be difficult to export. Generally, if someone embeds a photo in a PDF or a Word document, I ask them to send a separate file, preferably a high resolution JPEG.

Isn’t this being fussy?

Perhaps it doesn’t sound much, but when dealing with 10 or 20 press releases, this extra work adds a lot of extra time.

And it is a pure joy to receive a press release that can be used quickly and a high quality photo that jumps out of the screen.

It excites me and makes me take far more interest in the story.

Eliminate anything getting in the way

In my view, it’s best to eliminate any barrier that can hold back the excitement that a good story can create. Also, if you help journalists do their job and make it more enjoyable, they are far more likely to call you when they want comment or material.

That can only be good for your PR.

These are my experiences, but what are yours? What do you think works best?

• Robert Zarywacz is co-founder of pressme, business writer for the North Devon Journal and editor of #ndevon magazine.


Look at the price and . . .

. . . bin it.

That’s what I did when I received an unsolicited email. The first part of the subject heading was the price, which was followed by the name of a seminar being promoted.

I deleted it.

Then I retrieved it because I wondered whether the company actually got any response as this approach made no need to persuade me, but rather turned me against the offering straight away. And it’s made me think: I don’t like being sold to like this, but perhaps this company has found it to work.

That’s one of the important things about any form of marketing and sales. We’re not selling to ourselves, but to other people who often have very different tastes and preferences.

I still don’t like this approach and binned the email again.

What do you think?

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