Every day an editor receives stacks of press releases. Only a few will make it into his publication. These few will:
1. Have something to say. That is, they’ll have some news which will be of interest to the publication’s readers.
2. Say it in a natural editorial style. Press releases should make an editor’s job easier — not harder. If a release must be deciphered and totally re-written for publication, it won’t be. By describing how your product will make a difference to the publication’s readers, or how it will affect the industry, rather than how “exciting and innovative” it is, your chances are better. Avoid superlatives (avoid all unnecessary adjectives), and explain things as simply as possible.
3. Include quotes that sound real, rather than the product of a corporate communicator’s keyboard. I received this merger missive from a computer company: “`This arrangement is mutually beneficial and allows us to demonstrate our commitment to developing innovative, trendsetting products in a more cost-effective environment’, says…” But look at this from Upper Canada Brewery announcing an award: “As President Frank Heaps says, `We’re having one hell of an exciting week.’” Enough said? Here’s a technique to improve quotes. Interview the person to be quoted, and have him respond normally. Pick through these responses for good quotes — lively, spontaneous, real quotes — remembering that you can say whatever else needs be said in the body of the copy. Of course, you can always edit them (slightly) if need be.