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.


A love hate relationship

Love is in the air.

And all the time I seem to be exhorted to love this and love that. I must love parks or love my heart or cycling or fish or [pluck any word out of the air].

Some people in marketing must have fallen for the love concept big time.

I haven’t.

I like raspberries. I grow raspberries. I like picking and eating plump, juicy raspberries. I like making raspberry jam and raspberry sponges. I don’t love them though.

Nor do I love cars, confectionery, gadgets, television programmes, web sites, power tools or [insert randomly generated name of object].

I love those dear to me: my wife, my family and special people in my life.

This lazy marketing concept debases real love.

Does my wife really want to be placed on the same level as a manufactured dessert or a mass produced garment in a high street store?

Please stop it.

And now I’m going to make sure I don’t say I love this or that so that each time I do use this special word it conveys my full meaning.

Are you on benefits?

Every now and then a word gets into my bad books.

At the moment, it’s ‘benefits’.

This is a shame, because it’s not such a bad word and originally meant a kind deed or something well done. Then one day people like me got hold of it. Copywriters grabbed it, bundled it together with ‘features’ and tossed both into copy for brochures, press releases and other marketing and PR materials.

The kind, friendly element was drowned by the dressing to ensure the ‘you must buy it because it’ll be so good for you’ message always got through. “Forget features, sell the benefits,” people say.

The more I look at the original meaning, the more I like the word. Perhaps what I don’t like is the approach to marketing that reduces everything to a formula, which when applied automatically tends to fall flat. (Thinks back to weigh up own guilt.)

Another use of the word, to describe state social security payments, hasn’t helped either. With a stronger attachment to the failure of government systems rather than the relief given to genuine claimants, the poor word doesn’t stand a chance.

Now I regret it being in my bad books. I want to like benefits again and restore its benign impact, but this means working harder to find better ways of talking about features and _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .


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