Press Releases: 10 Common Mistakes

Whether you’re organising a festival or shouting about your show, keep these no-nos in mind before emailing arts editors 

Press releases are a presentation of facts, written for journalists in the hope it gets published. They are an opportunity for brands, businesses and arts organisations to reach their target audience through the media. They aim to tell the world about your interesting stories, anything from an arts product launch to a new appointment or award.

As the press release is seen as less important with the explosion of social media and the digital revolution transforming media as we know it, they can still be very effective at securing positive media coverage and are a great way to boost your profile and attract new customers or audience members.

Press releases can be written by yourself, someone within your company or an external supplier such as a PR agency or freelancer, and there are many common mistakes people make when drafting one. Here are my top 10 and how you can avoid making them yourself.


The title isn’t working

The title of your press release is the first thing a journalist will see, so make sure it’s concise, enticing and gives a good overview of your story. Make your title something that will encourage the journalist to keep reading. Avoid lengthy, detailed titles that go on and on and on… Keep it punchy. If you must use puns, make sure they are witty and avoid using clichés at all times.

It’s written in the first person

If you read any news story online or in your local newspaper, you’ll notice everything is written in the third person – unless we’re talking about quotes from actual people, of course. There should never be any “We did this” or “I think that” written in the body of a good press release – you have to imagine that someone else is telling your story at all times. A good tip is to pick up any newspaper and see how stories are written; you’ll notice everything that third person voice , as though the journalist is telling the reader about someone or something else.

You’re not providing enough information

Don’t make the assumption that a journalist will know everything about you, so make sure you include all the facts. Try to add a summary in your first paragraph, including where your arts organisation is based, the company name and the angle of the story. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve had to look up where a company is based on Google, just so I can add it to their story on Creative Boom. Some journalists won’t be as patient, so make sure you add all the information.

You’re forgetting to add proper punctuation

If you’re going to write a press release it’s essential you use proper punctuation throughout. Journalists are time and resource poor these days, so make their job as easy and as hassle-free as possible by providing ‘ready to publish’ copy. That way they don’t have to waste too much time double checking everything you’ve written. By supplying first-class copy, it will also gain you a solid reputation as someone who is reliable and provides quality press releases at all times – someone they’ll want to publish stories for again in the future.

There’s lifted copy from an internal newsletter or website

Copy written specifically for your own arts website or company newsletter will not work for a press release – it’s likely to be written in the first person, be too self-promotional and won’t have a journalist in mind. Don’t be lazy by providing something that you’ve already used internally. Start from scratch and write your news story specifically for the newspaper, e-zine or magazine you’ll be targeting. Aim to mimic their own style of writing.

It’s not making the most of quotes

Once you’ve established an angle for your story, you should always provide one or two quotes from yourself or a spokesperson involved in the performance, project or event. But whatever you do, don’t let these quotes go to waste. They are the only thing journalists can’t change, so make the most of them by throwing in some strong key messages. Sure, the journalist might not use them, but don’t repeat what has already been said elsewhere in the press release – use quotes as an opportunity to really sell yourself and your company. Keep them positive, upbeat and to the point.

There are too many CAPS

Something that really bugs journalists is the use of CAPS to emphasise certain names or words throughout a press release. For example, “CREATIVE BOOM is an online magazine for the creative industries” – it looks odd, a little sneaky and means the journalist has to go back through the entire release and change everything to lowercase. Avoid CAPS because you don’t need to highlight your company’s name; it will be quite obvious without.

It’s too short

Short isn’t always sweet. Although you never want to waffle when drafting a press release, don’t make the mistake of not providing enough content. More than anything, a journalist will want to get all the facts so make sure you include as much information as possible. You can still be concise and stay on track but don’t forget to include every little detail. If in doubt, consider the golden rule of Who, What, Where, When Why and How – ask yourself if you’ve answered all these questions before sending the release.

Your copy is too promotional

When you’ve completed your press release, sit back and read it through. Does it scream “Please buy tickets to our show!?” or have you given a nice rounded overview of what the production or performance is? You see, although press releases are promotional, they are not advertisements – they are a presentation of facts, so keep it factual and use objective copy at all times.

There’s too much over-hyped copy (exclamation mark!)

Copy that is littered with exclamation marks and wild claims about your exhibition, event or service screams spam and will only end up in a journalists spam folder. Avoid unnecessary adjectives because it will only read like an advertisement and that’s something you’ll want to avoid.

Those are just a few of the common mistakes people make when writing a press release. If you’ve got any of your own top tips, stories or ideas then please share them by commenting below. I always appreciate your positive input, so we can help as many other arts professionals and creatives as possible.

This content was originally published by Creative Boom

Katy Cowan runs the Creative Boom website voluntarily – she is a trained journalist, writer and PR professional. Follow her and Creative Boom on Twitter @Creative_Boom

Translation, localization and copywriting

What are the differences between translation, localization and copywriting

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When attempting to convey your company’s marketing materials to a foreign reader, there are several ways to express your thoughts, but what is the best way – for you?Technically, we all know what translation is, but do you know the difference between translation and localization? And what about copywriting? These terms sound vastly similar, but the processes involved are in fact different.

This article will guide you through these differences, including advantages and disadvantages, to facilitate you in making a more informed decision pertaining to your global business needs.

Translation

Translation is the process of literally interpreting the content of the source language into a target language while strictly adhering to the content, the tone, and the style of the source language. It rarely makes adjustments to fit the cultural context of the target language. In other words, the content stays exactly the same. A classic example of literal translation would be “ants climbing a tree”, a direct, straightforward English translation of the classic Chinese dish “螞蟻上樹(ma-yi-shang-su)”. This might seem off-putting and bizarre for the native English speakers who have little knowledge about Chinese cuisines, and thus, might prove to be a barrier for a food-related business or a restaurant hoping to expand to English-speaking markets.

While translation may be the most efficient,and least expensive of the three, if the context and culture of the source language and its target language vastly diverge from one another, it may come across as stiff and awkward. The writing may seem too foreign for the readers and thus hard to follow, rendering your message less persuasive. Within experienced translators, a company’s brand could suffer. To avoid negative impacts, you could construct translation memory (TM) – key terms or phrases that you wish to be translated into a certain way – to enhance the consistency and accuracy of the translations, and to collaborate with competent translation service providers.

Localization

Localization conforms to the target language, making the finished product culturally appropriate for the audience. Rather than rigid word-for-word translations, localization takes the culture of the target language into account, and while the meaning remains much the same, examples and images may be changed to fit local expectations. For instance, in a culturally-appropriate McDonald’s advertisement in a Muslim country, pork would be taken off the menu. Continuing the example of “ants climbing a tree,” a more appropriate, localized version of the Chinese dish would be “spicy glass noodles with ground pork”.

Advantages of localization over translation include that it is a decent compromise between literal translation and complete copywriting; it is a smaller investment in time and money compared to copywriting, and it does not deviate from the meaning of your intended message, while adding more “familiarity” for the readers, allowing for greater resonance. Constructing a TM will also greatly enhance the quality of the output. On the other hand, it may still be constrained by the effectiveness and quality of the original language provided, as localization does not call for a complete rewrite.

Copywriting

Copywriting, or transcreation, is the process of re-creating the source language in a much more creative fashion.This is much less restrained, with the content and the flow of the work open to writer interpretation. For global marketing campaigns, this is usually the most effective, as the writer can exert much creativity and truly convey your brand/corporate message, unrestrained to the context of the source language. In fact, different content could be developed to meet your business objectives, and the language is developed in the local language rather than translated, allowing maximum reach to the target audience.

Copywriting may be expensive since prolonged discussion process can be time-consuming. It requires creative talents and you are mostly at the liberty of the writer’s subjectivity which could potentially lower the overall consistency of your global branding. In addition, your original message may be modified or changed altogether for the purpose of the business objective. Alternatively, the key advantages of copywriting are that it minimizes the risk of translation errors, the writing is more appealing and relatable to the local audience. This is extremely crucial in branding and the most attractive way to convey your business to your intended market.

Source: what are the differences between translation, localization and copywriting

Copy editing & proofreading – What’s the difference?

By Aulia R. Sungkar

Copy editing and proofreading are the two common types of editing that are often used interchangeably, usually by those people who don’t know the difference. In fact, copy editing and proofreading are separate tasks, each serving its own functions.

A copy editor is tasked with checking for as well as correcting grammar mistakes, typos, inconsistencies, redundancies and punctuation issues. If necessary, a copy editor may also do a rewrite to make a write-up read better, especially in terms of transitions, terminology and writing style. After the copyediting process is completed, the next process is proofreading.

What basically a proofreader does is to check for quality before a writing piece or other type of publication, like a book, goes into production. A proofreader does not suggest major changes in the text. Instead, he or she is tasked with finding and correcting typographical errors, including minor text and punctuation typos, as well as making sure that there are no missing pages and confirming the material is ready for publication.

 

7 Tips for Creating Killer Company Profile

For all intent and purposes, a company profile acts as a window through which prospective clients window shop and see what you have to offer. Hence, it needs to be effervescent and interesting so that it can win you more business. There are, then, some steps that can help you build a good company profile.

Plan Your Content
Never hesitate to list everything you want to include, or, you believe, needs to be included in the company profile. Some of us, from the get-go, already decide that we are going to make a minimum list and add more to the list as we go. Actually, even without planning to do this, we tend to go back and add more to the list. By opting to think about everything we want to include in the profile from the beginning, we make sure that we put our thought into the list, deciding on the most important points to include, and, as best as we can, leaving nothing important behind. If anything should be added later, they are more likely to be additional points that supplement the ones we already have on the list.

Inform the Reader
A company profile informs the readers about the company. Yet, quite often some businesses forget that readers also want to know who are the people behind the company. Remember that at the end of the day, people who come to your company and expect to interact with people. Introducing the peoplebehind the company in your company profile to the readers, the potential customers, also means that the company is ready for business, has the right people in place and is ready to connect with the customers. This means, the website needs to already have links anyone can use to connect with the company anytime.

Clearly stating Mission Statement, Core Values and Vision help readers get the sense of what yourcompany is all about, and where it is going. Readers can immediately build an image of what yourcompany has in common with them, or whether it has something that they may need, thus, incitingthem to read further. Nevertheless, don’t be too wordy in your description, as it can bore the readers quickly, so keep it short and simple.

Offer Help
A company profile on your webpage explains to the visitors what sort of business you are running. Keep the explanation concise and to-the- point. Make sure that readers immediately understand that your company can solve their problem, provide their needs—services or products, or, basically, help them. This concise explanation should declare that the next step they should take is contact your company for more details.

Present it with Engaging Design
It’s true that a vibrant company’s website helps entice readers. Pretty pictures and an overall professional-looking website help win the hearts of many. But, make sure readers can easily navigate the website, go to the page they want quickly and get the information they need. Use Index or Table of Contents so that readers can find the page they want without a hassle. Writing short but informative headlines is also important, as the readers quickly know they are on the right page. In short, a user-friendly and easy-to- navigate company webpage describing company profile is engaging, and helps ensure readers won’t be confused or overwhelmed.

Perfect it with Pictures
Providing good profile of the people in your company can help readers identify more with you and the company. The profiles should also come with good photos of these people to further strengthen the notion that yours is indeed a company peopled by staff ready to engage with your customers.

The company profile can also include pictures of your past work, and company premises, and professional-looking photos can sometimes be a deciding factor whether readers are interested in finding out more about your company.

Include Testimonials
Third-party endorsements ideally complement your own take on your company’s ability to deliver the goods. Testimonials should include how your company can help them with their problem. This gives the readers the specifics of what your company does and how good your company’s performance is.

Write It Well
Make sure that the website is error-free. Any grammatical error, typos should not be anywhere on the website. Read and re-read everything before you upload any materials or updates. Better yet, ask other people to read them to get a fresh perspective. After they read them, ask them whether the information presented on the pages is helpful, and whether the information helps them make a decision to do business with you.

In the end, a well-planned and well-written company profile shows your level of professionalism, and that’s what you are aiming for and what people are looking for. Some of the tips above are quite simple, and may not sound new, but have we taken them granted just because they are simple and have been around for a while? The answer should be no.

Tips for Writing a Brilliant Press Release

BY ALVEO

A press release serves as a written communication on an event that a company or organization believes as important, not only to the media, but also to the industry at large. This is a tricky venture, because the hard fact of the matter is that nobody cares, hence, it is the function of the press release to turn the media on its ears about the news your company is releasing. That said, here are some tips to make your press release worthy of the attention of others, i.e. an enticing one.

Have an Attention-grabbing Headline

A strong headline can incite journalists to read the press release from beginning to end. It is no secret that many journalists read only the first paragraph, and sometimes the last paragraph of a company or an organization’s release, and only scan and skim the rest. So, important points should be addressed in the first few sentences, while the following paragraphs support them.

Make It Readable

Your press release should be error-free. So, make sure there is no grammatical error, dangling modifiers, or overrun sentences. The sentences should flow well, making it an enjoyable read, with details that engage journalists/the readers.

Keep a Clear Goal

A press release should have a specific goal. It shouldn’t cover too-broad a subject, causing the release to be vague. So, provide cold hard facts, with numbers and quotes whenever possible. Quotes can give a human element to the press release as being a source of information in its own right. By human element, here, we want the quote to contain insight, and personal and professional opinion, instead of information. Focus on the What, Who, Where, When, and Why questions. Remember, though, that Whyoften is the most important question in a press release, which can engage journalist and the industry.

Make It Short

Many articles will tell you that a press release must not be overlong. One page is best, while two is the maximum. Once again, we want to make it important, and a long press release won’t help us achieve that objective. When you have a good press release that gets its readers excited, they will want to contact your company to learn more about the information, or even what other achievements the company has made. This is what we are aiming at.

Provide Supporting Information

Quotes, photos, and even tables, are a welcome. In my experience, writing a press release for some events, journalists were grateful for any additional information, including photos. So, pamper them with these. They not only prove the points you describe in the release, but also make the journalists more interested in the release itself, thus, enlarging the chance of also disseminating your company’s news release to a wider audience.

Ready to Expand

It is a common, and good, practice to include contact information at the bottom of the press release. This shows your company is open to further communication, and ready to provide more information. Press releases usually also include a brief history section at the bottom of the release with details about your company, as well as a link to the company’s website.

The Merits of Opting for Professional Copywriter

By Aulia R. Sungkar 

Many believe that writing ability is a given, and they are confident that they can have their writing published. Technically, everyone can write, but in terms of the quality of writing, they may have a problem getting their message across to the readers.

Indeed, writing is not as easy as some people make it to be. It is even grueling for those who don’t find writing an enjoyable activity. This is where the service of a copywriter comes in handy.

Copywriting is technique of writing resulting in a product of creativity which draws readers to act on what is written. To put it simply, copywriting is a work of writing a material that sways the readers and gets them influenced.

Let’s look at the five advantages of using the service of a professional copywriter:

  1. Message Communicated Well

A professional copywriter knows how to communicate the message in a clear and succinct manner. This helps establish trust and boost your reputation. For good copywriting work can impress customers, and help you with your sales pitch. Conversely, a copywriting work, when done with lack of professionalism and focus, can damage your reputation.

  1. Good Perspective

When a copywriter works on a project, he or she is equipped with reasonable and unique perspective. A copywriter sees your business from the outside looking in; a copywriter won’t lose focus and fill the writing with irrelevant information.

  1. Content delivered on time

The guarantee of a copywriter delivering the result is another reason for using a copywriter’s service. Many projects or companies are late in delivering their content because the staff assigned to do the job has problem getting the inspiration or the time to write.

By delegating the job to a professional copywriter, the content will be available on time.

  1. An advocate for quality (who can battle internal factions)

Many businesses struggle to produce web content, as everyone in the organization has his or her own ideas about what is ‘right’ and what is ‘good.’ By delegating the job to a professional copywriter, you do away with arguments between departments, relying on an external agent to neutrally see what is right and good.

  1. Your time back

Writing good content requires time. By having someone else, a professional, to do this for you, you have the time what you are supposed to be doing.

A good business needs to have a website which is complex but delivers your message clearly. And, if you value your business and your success, the points above should help you decide whether, or not, it is sensible to invest in the service of a professional copywriter.