by Ella Chabot
Beginning at about age eleven, I decided that I wanted to become a writer when I grew up. Homework was a chore to get through, but once it was finished I’d spend hours in my room listening to WEAM radio in the Washington, DC area and writing poetry. One of my poems, The Mirrors of Truth, was published during junior high on a teen writing page of the former Evening Star newspaper.
I was a quiet kid and a secretive writer. My parents assumed I was doing homework with the radio on, and since my grades were okay, they let me play the music, as long as it wasn’t too loud.
Not sure what motivated me to submit a stack of poems to the newspaper. I assumed they’d never be selected. But one was, and my father was the person who saw it first as he read the newspaper on the evening it appeared.
My cached literary ambitions were out.
Dad was complex. On the one hand, he was clearly very proud of the fact that his progeny showed enough talent to be published in the Star. On the other hand, in no way did he want it to get into my head that writing was a viable future career for me.
Dad viewed writing as an impractical career and far too difficult to pursue.
When I first went off to college, I started out majoring in business to please my parents, but I was miserable. Finally, after much deliberation, I called home and let them know that like it or not I was going to major in journalism.
Time and adult experiences have revealed that my late father was right about most things. He was worried about the prospects of my trying to make a living writing poetry. However, I’m convinced he would now agree a journalism education was the right thing for my life.
Learning to write well is in fact in the best interests of most professionals, regardless of their field or business endeavors. Whether informing clients or prospective customers about business through print, broadcast or social media, communicating a clear message is critical.
The following Get Shot By Ella blog offers some basic tips to improve press releases and other writing. These tips are expanded upon and others included in my speaking presentation, available for booking by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Clear & Concise
When Get Shot By Ella discovers interesting people, businesses or events and considers them of potential interest to our readers for a blog article, we sometimes ask for a press release, biography or other descriptive written material to become more familiar with the subject and have correct contact, location, and other key information.
When the content is well written and concise, we look forward to blogging. When the content is jargon laden, vague, and unclear, we really don’t want to deal with it. If the subject is of genuine value, we have been known to grit our teeth and work through it, but it adds hours of time to our writers’ already jam packed schedules. It’s a no brainer that the well written submissions will be prioritized here.
Get Shot By Ella designs also submits company news in press releases to various media. Our press releases are managed by team member Mike Policare.
Editors are busy people with a lot of writing to oversee every day. Thus, a long winded, disjointed press release that is full of typos and grammatical errors is most likely a candidate for the delete button.
If your news is dismissed before it is even given consideration, any effort put into it becomes completely wasted energy for your business.
Think back on the most pain in the neck term papers you wrote in school. Imagine having to write several of these in one day to meet deadline, with no margin for error or mistaking the facts. With news copy, unlike with term papers, most of your sources and information come from human beings instead of research studies, text or encyclopedias.
There are never guarantees that any press release will be published. But you can give your news a better chance of publication by providing well written text that requires minimal editing to get it press ready.
What is important when sending out information about you, your business or events?
Make well written and usable material the only acceptable standard at your company. If your personal writing style does not fit the following recommendations, consider hiring a professional writer to edit and/or write content for media.
- Always spell-check writing completely before sending it out.
- The newspaper industry has its own reference known as the AP or The Associated Press Stylebook. Buy a copy because this is what ALL news publications use, and there are punctuation and grammar rules included in the book. An online version is available with a yearly subscription.
- Be clear, concise, and to the point. Keep sentences short and confined to the essentials. Avoid run-on sentences and flowery expressions.
- Eliminate “jargon.” What is jargon? Jargon may be very clear and obvious to you and others in your specific area of expertise as to what it means. Every field, every science, every profession makes use of words that those within the area are familiar with, understand, and use daily. People outside your area of expertise may be clueless as to what you mean by those words and/or they may attribute a very different meaning to those same words. Substitute jargon terms with words that will be understood by a general audience.