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Top Tips from Ascent PR

December 9, 2011

Thank you to Sara Lewis of Ascent PR for sharing with us these top tips for writing press releases.

1 Keep intro brief – try to keep your first sentence to 20 words and make it one key idea, not several.
2 “What does it do, new for whom?” Answer with the five Ws questions, who, what, where, when and why.
3 Keep in shape – give the information in descending order of news value and include quotes (usually about the third para).
4 Use plain English – when you have put your words down, ask yourself: would I SAY that to a friend? Study a tabloid newspaper.
5 Short sentences – keep them down to 25 words or less. Try reading the release out loud. If you run out of breath then your sentences are too long.
6 Keep your language “active” and use the present tense – e.g. use “says” rather than “said” and “enables” rather than “by using”.
7 Business benefits, not features – e.g. don’t waffle in the first par about how fast the processor is, talk about how it helps solve a problem.
8 Get it all down on paper first – once you have all the facts and a clear sense of your news angle, try writing your press release non-stop. Then go back and edit, but spend the greater effort getting your intro(s) right.
9 Avoid clichés and jargon as much as possible:
 beat a hasty retreat
 dramatic new move
 paramount importance
 selling like hot cakes
 writing on the wall
 spearheading the campaign
 and horrible jargon words like best-of-breed, innovative, unique, end-to-end, leading, leverage
10 Got a photo? It might not help you write a release, but it will increase its chance of getting printed by 100 per cent.
11 Go back and polish – think about whether you can lose any unnecessary words
Helping entrepreneurial businesses get spotted

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