Press Release Checklist (continued)

Baskerville Old Face #12

Your story should flow in news style. You can help by reading your work out loud to yourself, and asking your ear if it sounds like good news copy.

I believe that every student who can talk well can write well. And I believe that almost every student is able to talk well. Even though you may not choose to use perfect English in your everyday conversation (who does?) you know how to do it – if your grandmother asked you to "be nice" and talk correctly, you'd comply.

Your writing should be as smooth as your conversation. Good writing is never stuffy or pretentious. Good writers don't use big words just because they sound important. In fact, they usually choose short Anglo-Saxon words instead of longer Latinate words – like "use" instead of "utilize" and "get" instead of "acquire."

One way to achieve this is to read your release out loud to yourself and see how it sounds. If a sentence sounds cumbersome – if it's something you would probably not say – then it's probably something you should not write. So my final problem with most student writing – the fact that I can't hear your voice – is something only you can fix – by listening to your own voice.

But news style requires you to rein it in. You are not writing a newsletter, all chatty for your friends. And you are not writing advertising copy, full of hype and oversell. And you're rarely writing for the trades. Your writing should flow – in news style. You will use the word "you" very rarely, and "I" not at all. The facts should speak for themselves, once you've arranged them effectively. The best way to practice this style is to read a solid page of news items in any local newspaper, before sitting down to write your release: reading news style will create a mindset for you that will help you rein in your enthusiasm so you don't sound like an excited amateur.

Keep in mind, too, that releases never "proudly announce" – that's language more appropriate for insider's newsletters, or printed fliers and invitations. You have to trust that the facts will speak for themselves, once you have organized the facts compellingly.

Here's an example – of a press release that uses lively journalistic style to convey its message with the excitement of its news value: From the Heart