The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Writing for the media

Many questions are asked about the correct writing style when pitching to the media.
The question that should always be asked is ‘what publication’?

Publications are wide ranging; topics vary and writing styles differ between them all, so it’s vital that you understand the publication and the in-house style guide.

It’s always the little things

Some publications use the sadly moribund semi colon; others chose to omit and opt for something different. Whatever the reason, get to know how your intended publication uses grammar and style. It’s your job to know, feel and study the publication.

Writing for print media is different to on-line. In the on-line domain you’ll see a plethora of abbreviated words and phrases which require the eye minimal study time. The web is there for scanning; print is there to absorb.

The definitive style guide to the correct format for writing media releases and documentation is often dictated by journalists and reporters.

Press Release

A conventional press release, sent via email but produced in word, is a brief document (no more than 2 pages) which must be double spaced and written in an easy to read font. Comic Sans has a time and place but it’s certainly not in a formal document announcing a product or service to experienced media professionals.

Email Release

The electronic age may be upon us, yet it doesn’t excuse poorly written material and badly punctuated sentences. Email, the apparent saviour of marketing, removes the personal touch from many communication practises. Email press releases are usually shorter in length and organised into three succinct paragraphs. Remember to include your company logo in a nice and compact file size. There’s little worse than sending a document to a journalist which takes 5 minutes to download.

Wasted words serve little purpose in all media releases. Check, check and check again.

Remember to include a compelling headline and an opening paragraph which covers the who, what, why, when and where questions. Finish your communication off with a short paragraph about your business and whom to contact.

Stuart Evans is a professional copywriter, PR practitioner and freelance journalist. He runs Vibe Communications, a communication consultancy specialising in helping small to medium sized business.

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