Occasionally, with my copywriting hat on, I produce (or analyse) press releases for agencies big and small.
Generally, I’m asked to do this in order to provide a journalist slant — the best angle at the top, no filler adjectives, succinctness and so forth — to releases. I concentrate firmly on that, aiming to write something which would have maximum utility for me were I to receive it.
Often, however, the release that I produce will trouble the PR’s client — especially when they have overseen numerous press releases before. It might not be in the determinedly-upscale tone they are used to; perhaps it doesn’t emphasise the dreamy views or magnificent dining as much as normal; they may feel uneasy regarding the unusual ordering, or relative brevity.
It’s easy for me to think: “well, I’m right” here, due to a certainty that my release will prove more persuasive to other journalists. And this is, after all, a press release. But I’ve come to realise that press releases also serve other subtle purposes, which are arguably just as “right”: they flatter clients, in confirming to them how great their product is, and they also comfort them that attention and care is coming their way.
Make those purposes the priority and, to a degree, it matters less how well the release is written journalistically. It still needs to be well-crafted, of course, but those things about which I would care most — having the best angle at the top, no filler adjectives, succinctness, etc — will matter far less, if at all.
For once, I don’t have any particular advice here, other than — predictably — to aim for a middle ground. Pander to the client to a degree, but try and retain some of your release’s media-minded edge. Failing all else, you can always employ the pedantic (but correct) explanation that I did above: that this is meant to be a press release.
What Richard thinks…
“Really like the digestible bullet points on this from Nicola at Bacchus — heaven forbid, it might be something I’d do!”