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Information about press

Published on January 17, 2008

Author: Panfilo


PR Copywriting Training:  PR Copywriting Training Press Dispensary Women in Media - October 11, 2006 Today’s Schedule:  Today’s Schedule ‘Ice breaking’ exercise: photo captions Introduction & objectives The value of good copy Identifying your company news How to write a press release Exercise: writing the key parts of a release Jargon and why it must be avoided BREAK Photo caption exercise 2 Grammar exercise 1 Common grammatical errors and how to avoid them Grammar exercise 2 Style conventions Copy editing skills Writing and editing for the web (in brief) Caption writing Photo captions revealed Any questions? FINISH Your trainer:  Your trainer Jo Chipchase… Editorial director of Press Dispensary 10 years’ experience in journalism and PR Co-runs the UKPress online discussion forum for journalists and PRs ( Background in freelancing for new media and Brighton-based lifestyle titles Contributed guest chapter about IT sector PR to the Public Relations Handbook by Alison Theaker, published by Routledge Website content editor Training Objectives:  Training Objectives Identify your company news Learn how to write a press release Create attention-grabbing quotes, headlines and photo captions Avoid common errors of grammar and style Recognise what journalists like and dislike in press releases Understand the importance of plain English Improve copy editing skills and learn how to edit colleagues’ work tactfully Gain an insight into editing copy for the web Photo captions: exercise 1:  Photo captions: exercise 1 Think of captivating captions for the photos your group has been given. The value of copy:  The value of copy Poor copy… Fails to communicate a clear message. Looks unprofessional. Is damaging to your credibility and company reputation. Is likely to hit the journalist’s waste paper bin (possibly after they’ve had a good laugh at your expense!). May become training material on future copywriting courses as an example of what not to do! The value of copy:  Good copy… Communicates a clear message. Helps gain the reader’s interest and respect. Creates favourable perceptions about you, your business and the products/services it provides. Is likely to be read by the recipient. Has a fighting chance of attracting coverage. Won’t cause the recipient to fall about laughing – unless it was supposed to be funny. The value of copy High standards of copy should apply to…:  High standards of copy should apply to… Press releases Case studies Proposal documents Brochures Web pages Reports Letters Speeches Emails and faxes …any written material you produce Common faults to avoid in PR copy:  Common faults to avoid in PR copy Advertising puffery “…Our fantastic new product has fabulous features and is the world’s number one…” Verbosity (aka wordy expressions) “…we are trying to get our new business off the ground before Quarter 4 of the year commences…” (aka “we will launch our business by October”) “Do you want to have to go to the beach in order to catch some rays?” (aka “must you go to the beach”) “The main advantage is that it is affordable” (aka “its affordability” or “its cheap price”, etc.) Word repetition (Real life examples) “…The service provider is provisioning a new service…” “…BT offers a new offering…” (!) Clichés / tired expressions “…our enterprise-wide initiative puts us at the vanguard of customer care…” “…in developing our cutting-edge product, we were truly thinking out of the box …” Unnecessary jargon “…customers can utilise the upgrade to achieve higher levels of functionality…” Misuse of plural forms “The company have announced the date for their Christmas party” Common faults cont…:  Common faults cont… Unnecessary colloquialisms “on the fly”, “going great guns”, etc. Vague language Possibly, perhaps, might, probably, etc. “…our new product will probably appeal to consumers…” Unimaginative/weak words get, nice, pleasant, good. “…the company provides a good level of customer support and its assistants are nice…” Unnecessary adjective modifiers very, quite, really, etc. “…The press event was very well attended. The journalists thought our press packs were really useful…” Pompous words vanguard, manifold, fortuitous, vis à vis, etc. Archaic and ‘staid’ words whilst, thus, etc. Word pairs with similar meanings “distinguish and separate”, “enhance and improve”, “praise and accolade”, etc. Passive tense (applies particularly to press releases) “…the company has launched a new service…” (sounds as if it’s old news) Identifying a story: Before you begin… why should people care?:  Identifying a story: Before you begin… why should people care? Although your business / product / service might be the most exciting thing since sliced bread to you, your employees, colleagues, family and friends, you need to ignore that emotive feeling and think why it is of interest to the media and public at large. Why should people care about it? What aspects of your activities deserve to be in the news? Do you have a unique selling point (USP)? Can you create a strong ‘hook’ for your press release? Identifying a story: What is newsworthy?:  Identifying a story: What is newsworthy? A new product or service (with a USP that benefits people outside your business!) A major client or contract win The appointment of a senior team member (especially a person who is well known within your industry) Human interest: an unusual story behind the development of a product or service A quirky or remarkable story relating to a customer An outstanding employee achievement An industry accolade or award Growth or expansion (actual or planned) A sponsorship deal Your involvement with a public occasion or notable event A charity initiative or donation Significant research you've conducted Celebrity involvement with your business Hooking into an existing news issue, seasonal event or ‘hot topic’ (e.g. bird flu / teenage obesity / Christmas) And what is not news?:  And what is not news? A “me too” story, such as “another restaurant launches on a street which already has 20 similar restaurants”- unless you have a USP you can emphasise (e.g. a special offer, unusual dish, launch event or celebrity patron). A website which is open to anyone in the world, 24/7. A product/service you launched a while ago which hasn’t progressed since then and has no interesting ‘hook’. Why you are excited about events happening within your business. The “great fun” you had creating your product. Why you are “delighted” to be in the marketplace. Anything else along these insubstantial lines… (…more on this later) Creating an angle:  Creating an angle If there isn’t anything especially newsworthy about your business / product / service, don’t despair. Do create an angle. For example, sponsor a charity initiative, run a competition, offer a seasonal discount or a free trial to new customers, hook into an upcoming major event, etc. Don’t issue an announcement which simply says your business / product / service exists – unless it is genuinely newsworthy and interesting in its own right. Industry advice…:  Industry advice… Danny Bradbury ( “What makes this product or service different? If there is nothing to differentiate your product or service from the other products or services, then there is nothing. Superlative comments won't change that, so leave them out and try to find another valid angle.” Stefan Hull – ex city editor of the Daily Telegraph: “Think ‘would I read this if it was about a rival company’. When imagining the news story, replace your name with theirs and assess it.” Slide16:  Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 15:07:44 to: subject: Meeting with Company X Hi Josh, You might be familiar with Company X. What you might not realize is that Company X's suite of tools and services are helping numerous small businesses set up successful 'shops' online. These customers, who sell everything from blackberry jam to lobsters, are seeing site traffic and sales steadily increase, reaching international customers they never would have been able to reach in the past, and making money using referrals from other web sites. (all obvious!) I'd like to set up a meeting between you and Deb Doe, Company X's VP of Marketing, to share some of these success stories.   [Snip...] I know that Fortune publishes various sections on trends that drive the technology industry, including the Web and e-commerce. I thought you might be interested in these areas as they pertain to small business, and thought you mind find the success stories valuable. If you've ever wondered if small business is getting lost in the shuffle on the web, we can show you its not. .... Kind regards, Jane Doe Example: failure to be newsworthy from the days of the dot com boom when everyone and their pet dog was setting up an online store… Example: creating an angle from nothing for a ‘me too’ service:  Example: creating an angle from nothing for a ‘me too’ service Small Town Boy Creates Press Dispensary - 14 February 2006 - Two weeks ago, 17 year old Billy Cotton from Burton on Trent was a poor student in a small UK town spending all his money on travel, education and beans on toast - now he's chasing the big time with an idea he hopes will follow in the footsteps of MillionDollarHomepage. Billy is launching ( - a website randomiser where other sites can buy a piece of the action for just 1 USD. Sitespin may look like a low-key online destination but - with such burning entrepreneurial ambition behind it - who knows how long it will be until that major, Google-style IPO takes everyone by surprise? Billy Cotton explains: 'Thankfully, Sitespin isn't pixels like thousands of copycat sites that have instantly appeared around the net. It is, however, a 'site-randomiser' - all the websites in my database have paid at least 1 USD to be there. Once the 'Spin' link is clicked, the computer randomly picks a site to visit - simple! Anyone who wants to get ahead of their competitors on our database can pay more. For example, a 2 USD investment will double their chances of coming up on a Spin and 10 USD will increase it tenfold.' An enthusiastic Billy reports that webmasters are 'going mad over the idea' and clamouring to be the top investor with their link on his home page. He needs a few more investors to be playing major league with the 'big boys' but - in a community where the likes of Claire Swire can become famous for sending a dodgy email or the Arctic Monkeys can build a massive fan base after putting their unsigned music on the internet - anything can happen, and sometimes does! 'I want to be like Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google,' says Billy. 'Who knows - my David of a website could easily turn into Goliath.' To add a site to, simply visit and pay 1 USD or more by Paypal. Press releases - discussion:  Press releases - discussion What are the functions of a press release? What makes a press release effective? What might stop a press release having the desired impact on journalists? Press release structure:  Press release structure The ‘traditional’ model is… SOLAADS - Subject - Organisation - Location - Advantages - Applications - Details - Source Press release structure:  Press release structure Commonsense (and some theorists) recommend the inverted pyramid structure… Intro: the most important information and all themes encapsulated Key points The journalist should be able to cut the copy after any paragraph without damaging the flow of information or losing vital facts Additional information Decreasing hierarchy of importance Other relevant points Slide21:  Press release structure What would happen if the editor snipped this release after the first or second paragraph? The Ultimate Backup and Recovery Software!! Ok: you're in your study, it's 6:30 in the morning, and you've just spent 22 hours in front of the computer. You're a real mess and it shows; baggy eyes, wild hair, body odor. But it's ok, because you're not thinking about that. You're not thinking about that at all. What YOU'RE thinking about (obsessing about, actually) is this really cool new software package you've just discovered on the net. After staying up all night, you've finally found something big to show for it. All the hours of fruitless clicking; all the aimless wandering through ether hallways and blind alleys; all the half-interesting news articles, quotes on stocks you don't own, and all those blinking banners ... you realize now that it's all been for a higher purpose. It's given your life new meaning and transported you to a higher plane. You've had an epiphany that this new software package was put on this internet to show you the true path in your life. You're on a mission now with an important job to do. Your job will be to spread the word: The Messiah of software has come, and it's called Rescue 911. You go to the family room and get the kids away from TV. You get your wife and tell her to come to the study ... the dog senses something's up and begins to bounce around and bark in dysfunctional joy. You gather your family around the glowing cathode ray tube so they too can bask in the warmth of this new thing in your life. You begin to tell them -- no -- SHOW them the really cool features of this new software. You show them how it can back up the registry and all the important system files. They don't know what that means, but you assure them that it's really important. You show them how it gives you options ... the option to back up automatically each time the computer starts (you can SEE it backing up -- a nice progress bar and everything) or the option to back up manually with just the touch of a button -- you show them the cool graphics in the tabbed interface, the clearly written help files, and the context-sensitive help buttons all over. You show them the drop down menu items with hot links to e-mail the publisher (Montana Software). You point out that it's MONTANA Software and Montana's a really cool place. Don't they see how it all comes together? ETC. … Press release structure And what would the editor garner from this one? For example, what company is making the announcement?:  Press release structure And what would the editor garner from this one? For example, what company is making the announcement? The Revolutionary Glass Nail File. Glass Nail Files are the latest innovation in the nail industry. They are the perfect solution for shaping both Natural and Artificial nails. The files are very gentle on the natural nail and with regular use can help prevent splitting and peeling and they give a lovely smooth finish. Glass files are hygienic and can be washed and sterilised after each use. When cleaned they retain their original appearance and look and feel like "new". Never buy another nail file again! The Glass Nail File comes in three different shapes; each of them have either one or two filing sides, with either a round or pointed end. The Glass Nail Files comes in various decorations ie: vibrant colours, signs of the zodiac, flowers, animals. Our research with a Focus Group aimed at women consumers aged between 21 and 40 years, suggests that 65% were impressed by the very smooth finish on Natural and Acrylic nails; by the fact that the Glass Nail File is non-eroding, has an unlimited lifespan. The Glass Nail File is extremely easy to maintain because it can be rinsed in warm running tap water with an anti-bacterial handwash. The Glass Nail File make good for gifts and handy to put in handbags. Ends. For more information or for a sample, please do not hesitate to contact: Jane Doe tel: + 44 (0) XXXXX This is actually from a company called Zig Zag Combs… but how on earth would the editor know that? Press release structure :  Press release structure From a Rainer PR white paper: “The most common gripe amongst UK journalists is that the key information in a press release is either buried half way down or not there at all. Few journalists have the time, or inclination, to wade through pages of copy to dig out a story.” Stefan Hull, ex city editor of Daily Telegraph: “The format of a press release is like a peeled potato. The journalist can choose to make it into mash or chips.” (Think about starting with the whole potato and then peeling away layers…) The first paragraph:  The first paragraph KEY POINTS: Who is making the announcement Website URL Where they are based What they do The story in a nutshell – e.g. the main application, audience or advantage of whatever’s being announced E.g. Reprograph Ltd (, a Brighton-based printer, announces a 10% discount for NUJ card holders on its A3 and A4 colour copying service - so students can spend less money on printing and more on beer. Footy Ltd (, a Leeds-based retailer of footwear for outdoor pursuits, is launching its autumn boot range for hikers and mountaineers. Available in October 2006, the new range makes use of the latest fabric, Duralite, at prices to suit every pocket. The rest of the release:  The rest of the release DESCENDING HIERARCHY OF IMPORTANCE… Who is the product/service aimed at, what are its benefits, does it have any specific applications? Is it being used successfully by any major clients? Spokesperson’s quote: how did the product/service come about and why does it have value? Make this interesting and try to add a fresh point that isn’t contained in the rest of the release. Be sure not to regurgitate the first paragraph in quotation marks. Supporting info: How much does it cost? Where can people obtain it? Are any reseller programmes or special offers available? If it’s an event, what are the exact details, such as venue address, ticket agents and opening times? Notes for editors (the key points about the company making the announcement) Contact details Notes for editors:  Notes for editors Construct your company ‘boilerplate’ using key facts, such as: Where is the company based? When was it established? What are its main activities? Has it won any awards? Is it a member of any trade bodies or associations? Who are its major clients? How many people does it employ? Sun Travel was established in 2003 and is based in Eastbourne, UK, with a supporting office in Malaga, Spain. It operates package holidays on the Costa del Sol and employs 10 people. It is fully ABTA bonded. High Flyers is a Manchester-based provider of management consultancy services. Established in 2005 by Ian Cleverpants, who received the Back Patting Award for Business Leadership in 2002, the company employs 20 full time consultants. Clients include BP, Barclays Bank and HSBC. Notes for Editors:  Notes for Editors Where more than one company is involved in an announcement (perhaps you’ve signed a contract or reseller deal with a third party), include their boilerplate underneath your own. Ensure the writing style is consistent with yours – edit the copy if necessary. Consider adding supporting statistics or information not included in the body of the release – but keep it brief and name the source. Use your common sense! Notes to Editors should generally comprise a couple of paragraphs and should certainly not be longer than the main body of the release. Contact details:  Contact details For further information, please contact: John Doe, director Tel: 01273 334455 Mob: 07774 293033 Email: Site: By retaining the http:// on the URL (website address), you ensure the link will be active in most recipients’ mail software and on web pages if it is uploaded via RSS/XML feeds, etc. Writing spokesperson’s quotes:  Writing spokesperson’s quotes DO Start with… John Smith, marketing manager of XYZ Company, comments / says / said: “……” Use the quote to add new content to the release. If possible, the spokesperson could relate the announcement to a topical issue or trend (i.e. if you’re selling a low fat snack bar, you might refer to the problem of combating teenage obesity). Ask yourself: “Would the spokesperson actually say this?” If you’ve signed a contract with another company or are working with a third party, add a quote from its spokesperson. Ensure his/her quote adds a fresh angle and doesn’t repeat what your company spokesperson has already said. Make effective use of metaphors and analogies. For example, if talking about a football-related product, you might mention ‘own goal’, ‘top of the league’ or ‘offside’ – but know where to draw the line (!). Make sure the quote is reasonably grammatical, without being rigid in its use of language. Be business-like but not too formal. Ensure the quote links to the preceding and subsequent paragraphs. Illustrate by example: “Michael Jackson’s entire back catalogue can be downloaded in 10 minutes using our broadband service.” Spokespersons’ quotes continued…:  Spokespersons’ quotes continued… DON’T Start with: “Commenting on the launch of the product, John Smith said…” If the release is about a product launch, the journalist will soon realise this fact and won’t need a clumsy reminder! State the obvious or patronise the reader. Brag or make grandiose claims. Be tempted to lift large chunks of your corporate brochure and use the unedited material as a quote. Use client testimonials as quotes. They should appear in press releases rarely, if at all. Use analogies nobody will appreciate or understand. Bad real life example: “Surfers spend a fair bit of time at the beach, so why would you want to restrict Surf up TV to TV sets and PCs!” (pardon?) Inane quotes – the rogue’s gallery:  Inane quotes – the rogue’s gallery “We are delighted / thrilled / pleased / proud…” “Excited” – in any context “It is an honour…” “It is interesting…” (maybe to you!) “We look forward to the future of…” “I was sent one from a WAP company which started off: ‘We are proud to announce the launch of our new service’. Can you imagine them standing around, full of pride, posting out their press releases?” Yusuf Hatia, WAP Forum Examples of real-life quotes:  Examples of real-life quotes For a toilet illuminating product: James Cameron comments: “With Jonny Glow, you won't be going back to bed with two wet feet! This is a real bonus for toilet users, so we expect it to make a splash on the market…” For a table stabilising device: Andrew Gordon explains: “I was sitting in a bar with some friends. The table kept wobbling and pints were spilling. I immediately thought of the word ‘stable table’ and the idea grew from there.” For an online book club: Peter Baillie comments: “The concept of Mybookyourbook is simple: it is about re-cycling books so our community of readers can save money, have a bigger library, and help the environment by saving a few more trees. Instead of spending £4 to £8 on each novel they desire, members could join and never buy a book again.” Why are headlines important?:  Why are headlines important? News headlines can have a big impact – especially if they cleverly capture a topical mood or theme of the moment. Jim Callaghan’s Labour government was arguably brought down by a simple, three-word Sun newspaper headline - ‘Crisis What Crisis’ - in 1979. The PM had returned looking tanned from a conference in the West Indies to face widespread strikes in Britain… and a flock of reporters at the airport. Although the PM had actually said “I don’t think other people in the world would share the view there is mounting chaos”, the headline concocted by a canny reporter caught the mood of the nation, the ‘Winter of Discontent’ ensued, a confidence vote within the government was lost, and Labour was defeated in the resulting general election. Further reading: Headline writing – good practise:  Headline writing – good practise The headline should encapsulate the whole story in a few words. Ideally, it should be snappy and attention grabbing. But rather than making a poor attempt at being clever, stick to providing the key facts in one line. The headline should be grammatical, include a verb and make sense. Try to include the name of the company making the announcement in the headline or sub heading. Don’t make the journalist play a guessing game. Use the active present tense - e.g. “XYZ Company Wins Business Award”, rather than “Business Award has been Won by XYZ Company” Use sub headings to include more information: XYZ Company Launches Homeware Range At Stand 33, Ideal Homes, London Excel, 10-11 November 2006 Headline writing – good practise:  Headline writing – good practise Metaphors can be used effectively. E.g. “AST Pips Apple and Leaves IBM Feeling Blue”. Play on a theme, e.g.: “Snorestopper Turns Shattered Sleep Into Silent Night” “DTI Helps Float Water Based Project” If you use humour, make sure it‘s not just you that gets the joke…   Example headlines:  Example headlines Hot Ticket for Cricket Sporting Journeys is Going to Barbados for 2007 Cricket World Cup British Association of Anger Management Helps People Keep Cool for Yule National Anger Awareness Week 1-8 December DE Photo Zooms in on the North of England with Appointment of Huddersfield Based Franchisee Intrepid Mouse Takes a Nibble of the Digital Photo Publishing Market with Master Album Maker Hammers Down the Price of Luxury Goods with Reverse Auction Site Bad examples (from the annals of Press Dispensary):  Bad examples (from the annals of Press Dispensary) Interesting trio launches A Company Web agency launches custom built, top performing website Not for Profit and Public Sector Consultancy Launches ‘Sense People’ to Help HR Professionals and their Projects …These fail to grab the reader’s attention Headline bloomers:  Headline bloomers Something Went Wrong In Jet Crash, Expert Says Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers Prostitutes Appeal to Pope Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant Enfield Couple Slain: Police Suspect Homicide Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus? Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over Miners Refuse to Work after Death Stolen Painting Found by Tree Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years At Checkout Counter Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery: Hundreds Dead Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge War Dims Hope for Peace Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges Kids Make Nutritious Snacks Include Your Children When Baking Cookies Further guidance: Writing for your target audience:  Further guidance: Writing for your target audience Be appropriate! Is the release you’re writing targeted at the trade or consumer press? You would use a different tone if writing about your SMS fashion alert service for Marie Claire (consumer title) and Mobile News (trade). The former would be totally disinterested in the advanced coding technology behind your service, while the latter would not thank you for in-depth information about the fashion scene. If you’re writing a generic release for both trade and consumer titles, use language which all target journalists can easily understand and don’t go into too much detail about technology. The journalists can contact you if they need further information about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of your product / service. Further guidance: Keeping your excitement in check:  Further guidance: Keeping your excitement in check Although your company news may make you feel thoroughly over-excited, it’s vital to contain your personal feelings and impart your message in a clear, concise and appropriate way, using plain English. Rainer PR: “A client will always get far more excited about their 'news' than it actually warrants, and sometimes corporate policy dictates that releases are issued with overly lengthy sentences, and overly verbose and floral adjectives.” Jerry Stern (US PR practitioner): “A press release is not an advertisement and not a review. Don’t get fancy… Cut out quotes from yourself describing the fun you had creating this new product, and everything else that isn't actual news.” Further guidance: Choose your words carefully:  Further guidance: Choose your words carefully Danny Bradbury ( The reason that some journos get a little irate about badly written releases is that we have to read them and make sense of them. A lot of them. There are some perfectly fine writers in the PR industry, and there are some awful ones, too. Treat words like ballast in a sinking balloon. If a word is to stay there, it has to work for its keep. Get rid of any words that are languishing there without communicating anything and replace five or ten words where one will do. Press release checklist:  Your announcement is newsworthy and interesting. The release is carefully targeted at a particular audience or audiences. The text is around 600 words (two sides of A4, double spaced) The headline and introduction are attention grabbing and don’t contain superfluous words. The key points of the story are mentioned within the first paragraph. You’ve used the ‘inverted pyramid’ structure, with the most important information appearing first. There’s one clear idea/subject per paragraph, and all paragraphs link and flow. The journalist can crop the release after any paragraph without losing vital information. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct and there are no typos. Use of the passive tense is minimal and is avoided in the headline and opening sentence. “XYZ Company is launching…” rather than “XYZ Company has launched…”. You’ve used the third person throughout. The words “our”, “we”, “you” and “I” do not appear in the copy (except in a spokesperson’s quote or ‘chatty’ consumer release). Press release checklist Press release checklist:  Press release checklist The company is always singular. So, “it is announcing” rather than “they are announcing”. There are no examples of boasting or incredulous claims, such as “the world’s number one” / “best ever” / “first and foremost”, “only one of its kind”, etc. Don’t say something is “unique”. It almost certainly isn’t and research conducted by the PD team shows that journalists generally dislike this word. Avoid jargon, such as “the one-stop-shop, best-of-breed, effective, integrated solution to future proof your business needs”. This sort of language may sound ‘grown up’ and knowledgeable, but it actually suggests you don’t know exactly what you’re talking about. Plain English is always best. The copy isn’t broken up with bullet points, lists or subheadings. Narrative text has been used throughout. Exercise: press release writing skills:  Exercise: press release writing skills Write the first four paragraphs of a press release, structured in order of factual importance, based on the information below (note: there’s one ‘red herring’ for you to exclude). One of the paragraphs should be a spokesperson’s quote. If possible, try to include fresh information in the quote – use your imagination and be creative! Also write a suitable headline. Company: Ness Newman Bespoke Bags Location: Lewes, East Sussex URL: Product: Autumn 2006 bag collection Description: Ness Newman’s latest collection of bags is inspired by the famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo (deceased), and the enduring trend for folk/ethnic inspired and vintage fashion. These bags are all one-offs, exclusive to their owner. They feature an eclectic mix of crushed velvets, vintage curtaining and florals, sheer embroidered nets, laces and voiles. The new designs by Ness are superb and fantastic. Ness is very excited and delighted with her bags. The bags cost from £25 upwards. The bags are loved by intelligent women with a strong sense of their own style, who want something no-one else owns, and who appreciate a hand-made product. The bags are available from the website. Suggested text:  Suggested text Bags of Style for Autumn 06 With Frida Kahlo inspired range from Ness Newman Ness Newman Bespoke Bags (, a company based in Lewes, East Sussex, is launching its Autumn 2006 collection of bags inspired by the late, great Mexican folk artist, Frida Kahlo. Aimed at women with a strong sense of style, and in line with the enduring trend for vintage and folk/ethnic fashion, the bags feature an eclectic mix of crushed velvets, vintage curtaining, floral print fabrics, sheer embroidered nets, laces and voiles. Ness Newman says: “The trend for ethnic fashion lines is showing no signs of dying down and my bags give the individual, designer touch to any outfit. Why follow the herd with a high street purchase when you can buy an exclusive, hand-crafted accessory for around the same price?” With prices starting at £25, the bags are available from Avoiding jargon & clichés:  Avoiding jargon & clichés According to a study of 8,000 media stories conducted by Factiva Insight between September 2005 and February 2006, clichés are endemic. The phrase “at the end of the day” appeared in 3,405 of the 8,000 stories. “Level playing field” appeared 1,294 times. Other offenders were “wealth of experience”, “unsung heroes”, “rushed to the scene” and “concerned residents”. Journalists aren’t always adept at avoiding clichés and jargon but this is no excuse for PR copywriters to rely on ‘tired’ language. Marketing jargon – what words do journalists hate to see? Nominations and comments from members of  Marketing jargon – what words do journalists hate to see? Nominations and comments from members of Leading ("No one has ever heard of us, but if you look at this tiny, narrow niche in which we've positioned ourselves, we're practically Microsoft.”) Effective / effectively Leverage Synergies (“I can feel my blood pressure rise!”) Next generation E-anything Solution (“it’s something you put your false teeth in”) Architecture Infrastructure Offering Platform Announce Exciting (“you might think so – I’ll make up my own mind”) Radical (“rarely true”) New (“obviously, otherwise why make such a fuss”) Still continuing Groundbreaking Frontier Paradigm shift Cutting edge Going forward (“when people mean at some point in the future or from now on”) “These are meaningless to the reader – superfluous words” Marketing jargon – further hit list:  Marketing jargon – further hit list Solution Unique Ultimate Innovative Revolutionary Groundbreaking Cost effective World class Mission critical Integrated Seamless Robust Reliable Value added Scalable Enhance Enterprise wide One stop shop Best of breed End to end Futureproofed Meeting business needs Offering Pure play’s hit list: technology:’s hit list: technology solution(s) robust turnkey interactive best of breed mission-critical scalable next-generation Web-enabled B2B, B2C e-tailing seamless end-to-end "the ___ space" offline incent (vt) end user architecting deliverables’s hit list: business:’s hit list: business leading synergy leverage (vt) core competencies best practices bottom line 24/7 out of the loop on the ground benchmark value-added proactive win-win think outside the box fast track result-driven empower knowledge base at the end of the day Jargon-filled release :  Jargon-filled release We made this one up but it isn’t obvious… PR: Jargon/DRAFT   MY PLC ROLLS OUT WEB-ENABLED CLICKS & MORTAR SOLUTION FOR STAID BUSINESS PLC   MY PLC, a leading provider of turnkey fulfillment solutions that enable small businesses to leverage the manifold opportunities afforded by e-commerce and e-tailing, announces that it is helping Staid Business PLC, the UK’s number three investment bank, to become a clicks-and-mortar operation, in a radical step-change that will roll out during the next six months.   The seamless, scalable and robust solution from MY PLC will be implemented across Staid Business’ entire infrastructure, web-enabling the bank and taking its mission-critical applications into the next generation, ensuring it can offer value-added services to its customer base.   Darkest Suit, CEO at Staid Business, said: “We are delighted to futureproof our business with an integrated, cost-effective solution from MY PLC. The secure new architecture will truly incent our customers to take advantage of a range of e-commerce service offerings, planned for quarter three of this year.” Ivor Large-Wallet, marketing director at MY PLC, commented: “We are still continuing to offer best-of-breed solutions for all platforms that provide competitive advantage in the e-marketplace. We are thrilled to work with Staid Business in implementing an exciting customer-focused system that will meet all their business needs.”   -ends- Jargon-filled email :  Jargon-filled email From… Date: 10/11/99 12:33 PM To: Daniel Roth AT TINYFOR2 Subject: e-holidays/e-fulfillment expert source From: "Tyrone Rochers" <> Hello, Daniel. I had sent you an email last Thursday, inquiring whether you'd have the time and interest to meet with President JP McPickle who will be in New York for the E-Retailing show the week of October 17. JP is an excellent source for any e-commerce, e-holidays or e-fulfillment stories -- he's a young, articulate "fast leader," and his company, is defining the e-fulfillment industry, by helping both clicks-and-mortar and pure play e-tailers create customer-focused e-commerce strategies that ensure online brand loyalty and online success. [SNIP] Best Regards, Tyrone Rochers Jargon filled quote :  Jargon filled quote From release rejected by Press Dispensary: “It is increasingly critical that organisations have the planning and intelligence tools needed to execute their strategic human capital management initiatives,” said Martin Sacks, CEO, A Company. “Whether a company is looking to simply share charts with its stakeholders, or requires a real-time, Web-based solution for managing and modelling their workforce, our family of product offerings uniquely meet these requirements. With our latest enterprise, desktop and hosted OrgPlus solutions, A Company is positioned to lead the market in providing workforce modelling solutions worldwide.” From a Burger King presentation…:  From a Burger King presentation… From “Salad Strategic Objective Statement”: “Burger King will leverage its Fire-Grilled core asset and cooking advantage to be a potent competitor in the salads segment beginning in 2004. Burger King will offer a portfolio of standout, break-through salads to take advantage of market trends and consumer taste shifts, and significantly boost restaurant profitability.” Source: Call a spade a spade… or a sticker a sticker:  Call a spade a spade… or a sticker a sticker Tom Ziegler, Hoover's Online: “I wondered just what Avery Dennison does. A quick scan to the fourth paragraph revealed that the company is "a global leader in pressure-sensitive technology and innovative self-adhesive solutions for consumer products and label materials.” “You make stickers, you jerks!” Source: A cautionary word on ‘solution’…:  A cautionary word on ‘solution’… Rob Calem, Wall Street Journal (interactive edition): “Please don’t write to me about solutions any more – they have become a problem.” From a reader: "Thank you for including 'solution(s)' as a buzzword that desperately needs to die. When I recently received a letter that used the word eleven times in 1-1/2 pages of text, I wrote to the company in return and reminded them that another definition of 'solution' is something that is diluted or watered down. I then asked them if they appreciated having their products looked upon from that perspective.” Ben Tudor (UKPress): “My favourite is a release from a certain well known networking vendor touting an ‘innovative new solution’. The product was neither innovative or new, nor was it a solution. It was a box that did what every other vendor's box had been doing for several months. The word ‘solution' makes me want to reach for the big red fire axe”. Further industry advice on bullshit…:  Further industry advice on bullshit… Danny Bradbury ( If a word sounds like bullshit, it is bullshit. Take it out. If you're trying to write and you can't work out what is and isn't bullshit, you need to do two things: Learn more about the industry you're writing for. Go and ask what something means. You'll probably go through one or two people who claim to know, before you find someone who isn't bluffing. Especially in hi-tech. Don't use industry-specific stuff that you don't understand. If there's a technical word or phrase in your press release that you don't understand, go and find out what it means so that when the journo rings up and asks what it means, you can tell them. Break:  Break Time out… Photo captions exercise 2:  Photo captions exercise 2 Please devise captions for the second set of photos. Slide60:  Correct Grammar – exercise 1 Nine of the following sentences contain ONE common grammatical error while one contains a punctuation error. Please identify and circle the mistakes. If you have any queries, please contact Jane Doe or I. The journalists, to who we chatted last night, will cover the launch. To quickly find the contact details, look at the website. The collection comprises of six DVDs. XYZ Ltd doesn’t have a support site customers can get at. Send it direct to the airport. We’ll try and improve our service during the next month. Approaching in a taxi, the venue looked attractive. Our full range of digital camera accessories are now for sale. We’ve appointed a new MD, he doesn’t like champagne. Slide61:  Correct Grammar – exercise 1 The mistakes revealed… If you have any queries, please contact Jane Doe or [I]. The journalists, [to who] we chatted last night, will cover the launch. [To quickly find] the contact details, look at the website. The collection [comprises of] six DVDs. XYZ Ltd doesn’t have a support site customers can get [at]. Send it [direct] to the airport. We’ll try [and] improve our service during the next month. [Approaching in a taxi, the venue] looked attractive. Our full [range] of digital camera accessories [are] now for sale. We’ve appointed a new MD[,] he doesn’t like champagne. Grammar and form – common errors …and when to relax the rules :  Grammar and form – common errors …and when to relax the rules Run-on sentences  The product is available, customers can buy it now.  Use a colon, semi colon, hyphen or a full stop to separate the phrases or consider adding “and”. Split infinitives  To boldly go (famous Star Trek line…)  To dramatically increase your alertness, drink coffee.  Should be “to go boldly” and “to increase dramatically your alertness” or “to increase your alertness dramatically” - although split infinitives are considered increasingly acceptable these days. Prepositions at the end of sentences  This is the moment we’ve been waiting for.  It’s a place we fancy going to.  He put the boot in.  The office is hard to get at.  The correct form is “for which we’ve been waiting” / “to which we fancy going”, etc., as prepositions shouldn’t be placed at the end of sentences. However, to avoid a clumsy-sounding expression, simply reword the sentence. “It’s hard to reach the office” / “We fancy going to that place”, etc. This rule can be relaxed in spokespersons’ quotes. …more on grammar:  …more on grammar I / me / myself  If you wish to obtain a comment, please contact Fred Bloggs or myself / I.  Either Fred Bloggs or myself will be in touch.  Please contact… me. … I will be in touch. (Try removing the rest of the sentence to identify the correct form of the first person.) Who / whom  The client, with who we attended the party, took photographs.  If following “with”, “of”, “to”, etc., use “whom”. N.B. Strictly speaking, whom should be used as the object form of the pronoun, but – in modern usage - we wouldn’t say: “Whom is the journalist you’re staring at?” (Here, the journo being stared at is the object of the sentence, while you’re the subject.) “Who is wearing that pinstripe suit?” is correct, as the suit-wearer is the subject of the sentence. …more on grammar:  …more on grammar It’s / its  The dog ate it’s bone  What’s it’s value?  Its been great  “Its” is the possessive form of the pronoun “it”, which never has an apostrophe. So “the dog ate its bone” (possessive… the dog owns the bone) is correct.  “It’s” is a contractions of either “it is” or “it has”, which always takes an apostrophe. So “it’s time to go” (short for “it is time to go”) or “it’s been great” (short for “it has been great”) are correct. There / they’re / their  Their doing well at their jobs.  There doing well…  The computer is over their.  There refers to location – “the computer is over there”.  They’re is a contraction of “they are” – “they’re doing well”.  Their is a plural possessive form - “their work is in the office.” …more on grammar:  …more on grammar Singular / plural  The wages of sin is death… (famous biblical quote and motto of the Salvation Army) “The wage of sin is death” is the correct form. The plural “wages” cannot be accompanied by the singular “is” – and “the wages of sin are death” is clearly incorrect.  A number/range/set/series/group of new products are being launched.  “A number… is” takes the singular form. If you think “a number / range of items is…” sounds clumsy, try rewording the sentence, e.g. “the company is releasing a number of products”.  The company have announced their annual results.  The company… has announced its results. Remember that “the company” is a singular entity.  The team has got their act together.  The staff have earned bonuses.  The team has got its act together… the staff has earned bonuses. Consider using “employees have” or “staff members have” if the correct form sounds clumsy. …more on grammar:  …more on grammar Consist of / comprise  The show comprised of six acts  The show comprised six acts, or it consisted of them. The word “of” should never follow “comprise”. Less / fewer  Baskets with five items or less (typical supermarket checkout sign)  Our service is ideal for businesses with 10 employees or less.  Should be fewer If you can divide something into separate units (shopping items, biscuits, pens, etc.), use fewer. If you can’t divide it (water, beer, air, etc.), use less. For example, if John has four pens and Jane has six, he has fewer pens. But you’ve got less beer in your half pint glass than I have in my full pint glass! Neither… nor  Neither the advertising campaign or the PR activities worked well.  We cannot guarantee that there are no nuts in our products.  In this case, nor is the correct form. It’s the co-ordinating word pair with neither. Similarly, the correct pair with “either” is “or”.  Consider rewording the sentence: “The advertising campaign and PR activities didn’t work well.” “Some of our products may contain nuts.” It is best to avoid double negatives. …more on grammar:  …more on grammar Stranded participles  Made from fromage frais, kids love a fruity treat (Frubes advert)  The kids aren’t made from fromage frais! Try writing: “Kids love a fruity treat made from fromage frais” Go and / try and  Our MD will go and / try and see the client.  Avoid that Americanism! The correct form is “go to” and “try to”. Direct / directly  The taxi will be sent direct to the airport.  Directly is correct (“direct to” is another Americanism, as is Apple’s “think different”). Stressed / emphasised  The spokesperson stressed that the situation was under control.  No, he emphasised. Stress is something that happens when you have too much work and too little time! Slide68:  Correct Grammar – exercise 2 Now correct this second set of sentences The restaurant is open, customers can dine there tonight. The receptionist is going to greatly increase our efficiency. To install the software, simply open the CD drive and put the disk in. Our new head of marketing is over their. We can’t say there are no problems with the service. This coffee machine is suitable for companies with five employees or less. Its a shame we didn’t receive more coverage. The team is submitting their revised report. Leaving the seaside, Brighton Pier was full of jostling tourists. A selection of our products are being recalled from retail outlets. Slide69:  Correct Grammar – exercise 2 And the answers… The restaurant is open [,] customers can dine there tonight. The receptionist is going to [to greatly increase] our efficiency. To install the software, simply open the CD drive and put the disk [in]. Our new head of marketing is over [their]. We [can’t] say there are [no] problems with the service. This coffee machine is suitable for companies with five employees or [less]. [It’s] a shame we didn’t receive more coverage. [The team] is submitting [their] revised report. [Leaving the seaside, Brighton Pier] was full of jostling tourists. [A selection] of our products [are] being recalled from retail outlets. Copy - style conventions:  Copy - style conventions Abbreviations Don’t include abbreviations that only you will understand. Where necessary for the target audience, spell out the full name - e.g. make it clear the CBI is the Confederation of Business and Industry. The correct form is to write the full name in the first instance, with the abbreviation in brackets, and then use the abbreviation consistently in the rest of the copy. E.g.: “The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is launching a new scheme. A DTI spokesperson says…” “A New Company (ANC) is opening a franchise in Worthing. ANC is building on its existing Sussex success…” Certain abbreviations - such as JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) or ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) - have almost become nouns in their own right, and are h more commonplace than the full versions. Don’t write these in full unless you really need to do so (perhaps you’re explaining the history and development of ADSL in the UK?). In this case, the correct format is the reverse of the above: “BT announces the millionth customer for its ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) service. ADSL, a broadband technology, launched in…” Example: abbreviation madness:  Example: abbreviation madness TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION TO APPROVE CDMA SIM (SMART CARD) STANDARD FOR PUBLICATION CDMA Viewed as the Enabler of Global Roaming COSTA MESA, Calif., March 27, 2000 - - The CDMA Growth Council (CGC) today announced that the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) will approve the CDMA SIM standard, Removable-User Identity Module (R-UIM) for publication. This standardization represents a major step in the development of worldwide roaming as CDMA SIMs enable mobile users to personalize their handsets and access service regardless of the operator*s digital technology of choice. “The CGC and its member companies have worked diligently with the TIA over the past several months and have achieved the rapid approval of publication for the CDMA SIM,” said Perry LaForge, executive director of the CGC. “With CDMA deployment in China on the horizon, and the continued global commitment to the technology, the CGC looks forward to furthering its efforts to make worldwide roaming possible. Now that CDMA SIMs will be approved for publication, we are optimistic that global manufacturers will announce the availability of handsets this year.” The TIA approved R-UIM standard marks another milestone for CDMA technology. As the enabler for global roaming, CDMA has made significant inroads with the technology’s presence increasing at more than 118 percent in the last year. CDMA provides mobile operators and manufacturers the ability to offer a variety of value-added services today, such as wireless Internet and Information services. In addition, CDMA technology benefits for Wireless consumers include industry-leading in-building penetration, longer battery talk and standby time, increased privacy and better security. <snip> For more information about the CGC, visit the CGC Web site at # # # Copy - style conventions:  Copy - style conventions Arbitrary capitalisation Don’t capitalise words that aren’t proper nouns - even if your manager/client/colleagues would like you to do so. We’re not in Germany and the result is distracting, e.g.: “Safe Company Ltd provides Business Continuity Services. Its fully equipped Data Centres cater for customers’ Disaster Recovery requirements in the Hotel and Travel sectors…” The misuse of capitals can also confuse the reader as to what is the correct title for a business / product / service / artist. E.g.: Lucifire – Queen of Burlesque (‘Queen of Burlesque’ is not part of the performer’s stage name and should remain in lower case to avoid confusing journalists). Internet / website It’s arguable that “internet” and “website” aren’t proper nouns and shouldn’t be capitalised (after all, we don’t capitalise radio and television, which are alternative media). Many publications are now using the lower case form. Whatever form you use – e.g. internet / Internet; Web site / Website / website - you should stick to it consistently throughout your copy. Copy - style conventions:  Copy - style conventions Company names - lower case In the late 1990’s, many companies decided to give themselves ‘funky’ names with non-standard capitalisation and punctuation. Some of these names have stuck around. This can be a pain for journalists, as pandering to such whims makes proper nouns stand out ‘wrongly’ within copy. E.g., in the following paragraph, the reader’s eye is drawn to Monday and Britain, rather than to the most important entities – the two companies: “A £12 million merger on Monday will unite firstventure and anotherventure, two of Britain’s fastest growing new media companies.” Company names – upper case Conversely, in the following all caps example, the company name is over-emphasised: “A new online directory service has been launched by, taking on rivals Google and Lycos” Copy - style conventions:  Copy - style conventions Decorative punctuation within company names With Yahoo!, the exclamation mark is distracting when it appears within written copy. In a headline, it can over-emphasise the company, drawing the eye straight to it… “Share price rises at Yahoo! while Alta Vista shows strong growth” In the States, Macy’s uses the following form: macy*s …and there’s also the non-standard E*TRADE While this is acceptable on marketing materials, a company’s corporate identity / logo branding shouldn’t be migrated into formal copy. Journalists will usually revert to Macy’s and E’Trade – don’t create work for them! Oddly, eBay and iPod tend to retain their non standard forms, even in the broadsheets. Copy editing skills:  Copy editing skills Sentence length The American Press Institute proved that readability declines in relation to sentence length. An average sentence length of 19 words had a comprehension mark of 90 percent, compared to just 31 percent for an average length of 33 words. So, the clarity of copy can be improved by using reasonably short sentences. Review your copy and see if any commas can be replaced by full stops. But don’t make your sentences so short that they are abrupt and disjointed. Cadence Your copy should sound good to the ear. Read it ‘aloud’ in your head to see if the rhythm and sentence length is pleasing. If not, consider making revisions. If you’re editing someone else’s copy, and it is too disjointed, ask them to use the same technique. (This is a particularly useful device when writing/editing spokespersons’ quotes.) Copy editing: why is it important?:  Copy editing: why is it important? UKPress member: “A few years ago I remember a colleague being very relieved because she had just spotted that a release slotted for distribution featured the client as the 'head of pubic relations' .” DPS advert in SmartLife magazine, June 2006: “Home cinema that's truely in a league of it's own” Imagine Publishing about flagship title: "We at imagine publishing aim to create magazines with quality and excellent" Copy editing – checklist :  Copy editing – checklist Remove typos. Correct bad grammar and punctuation. Ensure there’s no confusion of single and plural forms. Make any wordy expressions more succinct. Correct factual inaccuracies. Ensure that “decorative” punctuation hasn’t been used on client names in a formal document. Remove capital letters from any words that aren’t proper nouns. Check that the tone and content are appropriate to the target audience. Ensure information is structured in a logical order, with the most important facts appearing first. Each paragraph should contain one clear idea. If a paragraph is a scrambled, rambling mess of different points, try converting it into two or more shorter paragraphs. Format documents into your house style (e.g. check that the line spacing and font sizes are correct). Editing someone else’s work:  Editing someone else’s work Before you run amok with the red pen… Make constructive suggestions for improving content and style. Explain why your amendments are necessary, without being patronising or dismissive. If you edit someone’s work using Word, consider making the amendments clear by applying a different font colour or by using the “track changes” facility (although some people find the latter cumbersome and difficult to turn off). This is preferable to deleting their words and replacing them with your own with no constructive comments. Remember that, with grammatical changes, you might not always be right (nobody is right all the time and none of us are English professors). Avoid your company’s copy becoming bland and homogenous. Don’t encourage your employees to write everything to a set, inflexible format or constantly use your favourite words (such as solution!). Copy editing – team feedback Source: a London-based tech sector PR agency, 1997:  Copy editing – team feedback Source: a London-based tech sector PR agency, 1997 What amendments do you find helpful / constructive? “Correction of typos.” “Helpful comments on how the release can be realistically improved.” “Advice on the correct use of grammar and punctuation, or pointing out repetitions and structural improvements.” “A mark on a sentence/paragraph, followed by a verbal explanation of why it isn’t appropriate and, if necessary, suggestions on how to rephrase it.” “Suggestions for alternatives rather than replacements you are obviously not supposed to question.” “Clear writing, not scrawl.” Copy editing – team feedback Source: a London-based tech sector PR agency:  Copy editing – team feedback Source: a London-based tech sector PR agency What, if anything, do you find de-motivating? “Changes in style that in no way improve the quality of the copy.” “Having sentences changed just because the editor wants it to be in his/her words.” “Having your words rewritten by a manager only to have them put back by a director.” “Sarcastic comments, rewritten paragraphs.” “Teacher-like comments – ‘poor’, ‘sloppy’, and the like.” “Changes should be discussed.” “Red pen – feels like I’m back at school.” “I don’t like amended copy to be just stuck on my desk – what’s wrong with the personal touch?” Editing copy for the web:  Editing copy for the web Remember that web content, logged by search engines, can remain accessible for an extremely long time so avoid embarrassing mistakes that will come back to haunt you for the next few years. Reading lengthy information on a screen is tiring to the eye, so aim for word counts of around 400 per page. Break up your feature and lead to the previous and next instalments using links. Break up body text with sub headings. Link from a news story, feature or opinion piece to other internal pages or external sites that display relevant information. Make sure all links are unbroken (i.e. they work). Include key words for search engine optimisation. Your marketing manager or webmaster should know what these are. But don’t pepper your copy with so many key words that it turns into page ranking material (repeating, for example, the same phrase over and over again), rather than well written PR material. Include an email address (or phone number) on each feature you place online, in case visitors require further information or wish to give feedback. It’s always good to have a ‘call to action’. Editing copy for the web:  Editing copy for the web Remember that your potential audience is global, even if the site has a local focus. So, telephone numbers should start with +44 (0), etc. If you mention locations, you may wish to specify “Brighton, UK” instead of just “Brighton”. Be sure to remove references to printed material from the copy, such as: “On page three of our brochure, you will find…” Try to be specific with dates, rather than using terms such as “last week”, “recent events have shown” or “this year” – as this will no longer be correct when the page has been online for some time. It’s preferable to write, for example, “the product will launch in August 2006” rather than “in August”. Perhaps readers could add their own comments or reviews underneath your piece? This approach is favoured by sites such as the BBC and Amazon. Ask your webmaster to create the necessary coding. Consider adding high resolution JPEG images to accompany online press releases, for download by journalists. Writing photo captions:  Writing photo captions Keep your captions concise and avoid unnecessary words. (The tabloid journo who came up with the photo caption “Floody Hell” during an Octob

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