Tag Archives: journalism

Words journalists hate in a press release

Journalists are taught to be allergic to certain words. They downright abhor longevity. Their love of brevity harkens back to the time when the number of allowable words were dictated by the number of column inches designated by the editor.

Today, the Internet has put no end to what a journalist can write. Instead of opening their worlds to words, however, they’ve instead held tight to the notion that less is best. Why? Because reader’s attention spans are still the size of a goldfish’s memory.

You have exactly two sentences to capture a journalist’s attention with your press release. As you can imagine, it takes less time than that to turn them off. Here’s a list of the most common, annoying, frivolous, and downright ridiculous words to never use on a press release:

1. Adjectives

This event/book/promotion is the most “amazing, first time ever, premiere, best” thing that’s ever happened to your company, right? That doesn’t mean the journalist — or the reader they’re writing for — thinks so. Avoid adjectives at all costs. Instead, paint a picture of why you or your company is the best. Don’t tell them.

2. Jargon

You’re a thought leader in the healthcare, information technology space. You’ve secured two million end-users for your product. The company’s new EMR system has already proven to increase efficiency and cut costs. Did you know journalists are trained to write for people who read at an eighth grade level? If, at 13 years-old, you knew that end-users who implemented EMR systems became thought leaders in their space … I pity you.

3. No acronyms

FBI. CIA. NAACP. These are three of maybe 10 accepted acronyms within the AP Stylebook. Don’t assume that the acronyms of your everyday lexicon are understood outside your industry. Please comb through your press release twice before sending it to delete acronyms.

…. to be continued

Think like a Journalist to Become an Excellent Content Marketing Strategist

Why can’t marketers think more like journalists? Like myself, Kristine Kelley, Head of Editorial and Content Strategy at Grant Thornton, wants content marketing strategists to start thinking like journalists. Your organization should ask itself: Who is our audience? What do we want them to do with our content? And, how are we going to reach them?

hrh media: Content strategists face a market that is saturated with touch points – from websites to mobile devices to social media. How does a company elevate their content marketing into a content strategy in an effort to gain more consumer attention?

We really shouldn’t talk about content marketing until we have high-quality content – and a process to generate it – to market. Companies must start with the absolute basics: who is our audience, what do we want them to do with our content, and how are we going to reach them?  A solid mission statement is a solid start. Then, mapping our content to a basic sales cycle helps ensure that our content strategy is mapped to our business strategy. A successful content strategy also combines brand with solid writing best practices, to ensure what’s put out there sounds and looks like our company, and is naturally optimized. Finally, companies need to ensure they have a content org in place. Agencies are great, but depending on the volume of content generated (B2Bs generate a LOT of content), we need a team of people who understands how to speak to our audiences, and how to curate content in various channels over the entire life cycle.

hrh media:  What argument can be made to upper management that the time investment involved in implementing and initiating a content strategy is worth the gain?

Content appropriately mapped to the business strategy and corresponding sales cycle ensures that what we’re creating isn’t just stuff being generated and thrown out to see if it sticks. An actual content strategy is just that.

a.    Where do you start to develop a new content strategy, including a framework to keep it going?

In addition to the above, I like following the traditional magazine publishing model to develop a content-savvy org, which can then be executed against our strategy.

hrh media:  Marketing is still, at its roots, about building relationships and trust and evoking positive emotions to its customers. Could you name a company whose content strategy has achieved this and note some of the factors that attributed to that success?

Most big publishing companies have figured out how to execute their original content strategy in a multi-channel world. A few big brands, such as Ford and GE, are doing a great job of keeping their brands relevant and in the conversation. And a few big B2B groups, such as McKinsey, are keeping their markets reasonably satisfied but not completely inundated with solid “thought leadership.”

hrh media: Could you name a few tools you are particularly fond of that help you achieve your content strategy goals?

My tools are tools for writers: inverted pyramid, Strunk & White’s “On Writing Well,” AP Style, our company’s style guide, our company’s brand voice and our marketers’ marketing goals.

The best time of day to send a press release

When it comes to sending out a press release, the early bird does not get the worm.

Many public relations and communications professionals operate under the impression that their press release should be sent out as soon as the clock hits 9 a.m. I suggest waiting — and this is why.

Journalists are inundated with hundreds of press releases every single day. It’s easy to gloss over the mass, generic emails in their inbox when sorting through first thing in the morning. It usually takes a typical journo 30 – 45 minutes to check initial morning emails. So, why not send your press release at 10:30 a.m.?

Not only does this allow for you to procrastinate (if that’s what you want to call it) it also allows you one more hour to re-read and possibly re-edit your press release.

Likewise, if your company or client has breaking news during the day and you need to send out your press release right away, I agree it needs to be sent out before close of business. Before you hit “send,” however, consider the highs and lows of a typical work day. Noon to 1:30 p.m. is lunchtime, so avoid the afternoon rush of press releases during this time. Furthermore, many business professionals and journalists are wrapping up their day or fitting in final rewrites of articles starting at 4 p.m. So, the best times to send a press release in the afternoon is between 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

As always, follow-up with a phone call within a few days.