Public Relations Writing: Lesson #3 - p. 5

Press Release Checklist (continued)

Baskerville Old Face #12

A story that doesn't flow in news style – That is, I either hear your "voice" too much, or I can't hear it at all. This is probably because you didn't read it out loud to yourself.

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 would be able to comply.

You've already proved that you have a good basic command of the English language. Go back and read your "faculty" or "mom" letter, if you don't believe me. No need to question your basic writing skills – now what you need to do is study and perfect the craft and specific skills of PR Writing

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 works 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. 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.

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