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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Press Release Writing-Art or Science?

Press release writing has, of course, elements of both art and science.  The author of a press release generally follows a recognized format in order to differentiate it from other styles of communication.  Typically, common components include:

  • a headline that needs to seize the reader’s attention creatively, while effectively transmitting the main idea briefly.  This is comparable to a comedian telling a one-liner as opposed to a storyteller holding an audience’s attention for a longer period of time,
  • a dateline with the date and the name of the city from which the information is originally released,
  • introduction  that gives succinct answers to what used to be called the 5 W’s in       newspaper writing-who, what, when, where, and why,
  • a body that fleshes out the press release with pertinent details.  The body usually has a word limit range of 400-500 words.
  • a conclusion that restates the main idea and sums up the content, and finally, 
  • the contact information for the person in charge of media relations. 
Press release writing is a science when it follows this traditional format.  The art of writing a press release is developed through clever word choice, accurate writing conventions, and skilled use of font.  A press release writer must choose words that will attract the desired readers.  For example, the writer might say that a product either “performs flawlessly” or “rocks” depending on the age range of the targeted consumers.  A question mark at the end of a sentence, instead of a period, can invite the reader to participate more fully, can’t it?  A larger font size can make a press release more inviting to a reader who has or might be in need of glasses.

Press release writing has a century-long and interesting history.  A man named Ivy Lee is credited with writing the first modern press release.  He was working with the Pennsylvania Railroad when there was a train accident in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1906.  Information was released directly to journalists before rumors could start and Lee and the railroad invited journalists and photographers to the site so they were able to offer eye-witness accounts.

By definition, a press release is information purposely released by the act of being transmitted to the media.  An artistic press release writer strives to be innovative in the content and delivery of this information.

Author:  ArticleWriteUp.com writer Sue M.
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