Press Releases

Tight Writing: Get Rid of “Flowery” Words

Articles, Blog, Blogging, Editing, How-To, Press Releases, Product Descriptions, Web Writing Mistakes, Website Content, Website Copy

When you’re writing for the web, you have 3 to 5 seconds to grab a reader’s attention.

That’s all you get – the time it takes for a reader to raise his or her coffee cup and take a sip. If you haven’t captured your visitors’ interest in that time, they’ll click the back button to find someone who does.

Even if you get past the 3-to-5-second mark, you still need to keep your readers’ interest.

You do that by keeping things short, pithy and to-the-point.

Get Rid of Flowery Words

One of the best books in the world — The Giver, by Lois Lowry — uses a phrase that’s incredibly important in writing for the web: precision of language. (That’s not an affiliate link, but if you buy The Giver through Amazon at that link, which is something you should definitely do, Amazon donates to the Wounded Warrior Project.)

Back to precision of language.

Check out the difference between these sentences:

  • She sipped the piping hot coffee, her eyes leisurely flicking over the smudged, raindrop-splattered newspaper without being able to discern between the blurred and bleeding letters.
  • She sipped the hot coffee, glancing at the wet newspaper. The letters were blurry.
  • She sipped her coffee and looked at the paper.

The first sentence is great… if you’re reading a romance novel. On the Internet, people don’t have that kind of time.

The second sentence is okay.

The third gets to the point.

It’s called purple prose in the writing world, and it’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to get someone to buy your product or service. You need things in black and white, and that’s it.

Precision of Language

Describe what you need to describe quickly and simply. People are coming to you because you have something they want, so give them the information in accurate, simple terms. Make it easy for them to read, too, by:

  • Breaking things up with subheads
  • Using bullet points or numbered lists where appropriate
  • Cutting out useless words
  • Getting straight to the point
  • Writing paragraphs that have no more than four sentences each

And for the love of Cthulu, don’t introduce what you’re about to write. It’s annoying and treats readers as if you assume they’re stupid. (Nobody is going to buy anything from someone who treats them like they’re stupid.)

Save Yourself the Trouble

Naturally, you could save yourself the trouble of slipping flowery words into your product descriptions, press releases or website copy and hire a professional writer. I know a girl…

Press Releases: You Need a Good Distribution Service

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While your press releases do need quality content to succeed (there are three essential elements to a successful press release), don’t overlook the fact that you should hire a professional press release service if you want to maximize your exposure.

A service such as PRWeb, which I usually recommend to all my clients, can be an invaluable asset. It’s not cheap, though.

However, they can get a press release featured on major news distribution sites — and that’s how you get plenty of eyes-on.

3 Key Components of a Successful Press Release

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If you’re writing a press release for your business, it must have the three key components of any successful press release:

1. News

2. Hard facts


News in a Press Release

Journalists are inundated with press releases that aren’t “newsy” enough. While something might feel like news to you, make sure it’s really newsworthy (read: it’s something that people would find interesting in a newspaper).

What’s newsworthy? Things such as:

  • Starting a new business
  • Launching a new product
  • Announcing a new company president
  • Opening new locations
  • Receiving an award
  • Donating time, services or products to charity
  • Launching a new website
  • Expanding your business, or partnering with another business or professional
  • Distributing results of a study or other research your company has conducted
  • Holding workshops, webinars or seminars
  • Sponsoring another brand or charity

Hard Facts in a Press Release

You have to provide evidence for your claims in a press release.

You can’t just say “Unique Web Copy was named Business of the Year” without giving who, what, where, when and why.

You can’t claim that 99 percent of people who use your product never buy your competitor’s product again unless you have the data to back it up. Press releases rely on hard data; that’s what makes them news pieces rather than opinion pieces.

Quotes in Press Releases

Quotes in a press release do something that nothing else — not even hard data — can do: they give it personality and authority. When you quote an expert, you’re showing readers, “Hey, somebody who knows this stuff is willing to attach his or her name to it. They’re standing behind it, and so should you.” When you quote the people your press release is about, you’re adding a spark of human interest and feeling.

Bonus Tip: The Inverted Pyramid IS the Right Way

Get to the point right away. Yes, you’ll need a snappy title that hints at what’s to come; after that, you’ll lose your readers if you try to meander to the main point. Knock out the news in the first paragraph and use the rest of your press release to provide support for it.

Make your announcement right away.

Keep it short and sweet, while you’re at it. Don’t aim for anything more than 700 words (and that might even be pushing it unless you have solid quotes to stand on).

7 Hot Ideas for Press Releases

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When you need your business to gain exposure — and gain it fast — a press release might be the way to go.

The problem?

You might not have anything “press release-worthy” to write about… or do you?

Sure you do. You just need a few ideas for press releases to get you started. (And if you don’t feel like writing one yourself, I know somebody who can help you.)

Ideas for Press Releases You Can Really Use

A press release has to be newsworthy in order for it to take off. Even if you’re submitting it to distribution sites that send it to all of the places you want it to go, nobody will read it if it’s not newsworthy. Need a push in the right direction? Here are seven little nudges:

1. Making a charitable contribution or doing something to better your community.

If you’ve donated a substantial sum to a really great organization, that’s newsworthy. If you’ve just joined up with Habitat for Humanity, you’ve pioneered new ground while lobbying for a community garden, or you’re volunteering at a local soup kitchen, people want to read about it.

2. Receiving or giving an award.

Any award your company gets — even if you think it’s small or insignificant — can make a great press release. The same goes for one you give. And carry that a little farther: if you sponsor a local kids’ sports team or anything like that, put out a press release.

3. Offering a new product or service.

A lot of business owners come to me and say they don’t have anything newsworthy, and that’s when I start asking about the branches of their business. Even if they’re not in tangible sales (I work with a lot of attorneys and physicians), there’s always a new turn in their careers that we can capitalize on. If you’re a lawyer, for example, hiring someone else to work at your firm counts; a doctor can talk about how her practice is the most cutting-edge in town with the latest-and-greatest ultrasound machine. A masseuse who’s branched into aromatherapy, a book store owner who was holding a book signing… these are all ideas for press releases that I’ve put into practice for clients.

4. Hosting a contest or competition.

Lots of companies hold giveaways (well, not doctors or lawyers), so why not jump on that bandwagon? Whether you’re giving out T-shirts with your company logo at the local farmer’s market or having a Facebook photo contest, it needs to be in a press release.

5. Reaching a company goal or hitting a milestone.

You’ve been in business for five years? Congratulations! Now let the public know. Ten? Even better — you’ve outlasted most businesses. On the same token, achieving big goals (or even setting them) are great things to let the public know about.

6. Going green.

If your company is taking big strides toward being more ecologically friendly, like an attorney I know who is completely paperless, that’s worth putting out there. People love when companies show responsibility, and they’ll adore you for it.

7. Launching a new website or blog.

Kick things off in style with a press release. (I also know someone who can help you with that blog of yours — if you’re announcing it to the world, you’re going to need someone to write those posts.)

Do These Press Release Ideas Apply to You?

Now that you have a handful of hot ideas for a press release, which of them apply to you? Chances are at least one does, and if not, that’s easy to fix: hold a contest, get started on that blog, or start digging in that community garden.