5 Tips for Fixing Kitchen Sink Press Releases

Copywriters often find that crafting a lean, straightforward press release is harder than it should be—not because they lack skill but because their clients feel compelled to cram as many ideas as possible into a release. It’s the Kitchen Sink Syndrome.

Next time you’re struggling with a bloated press release, here are five tips that can help you clear the clutter:

  1. Deliver twins. Provide two drafts of the same release—one that matches your client’s expectations and one that’s stripped of extraneous ideas. Be sure to offer a bit of explanation about why you’ve written an alternative draft but avoid listing the faults of the requested version. Instead tactfully cite the advantages of your streamlined alternative.
  2. Explain the perils of puffery. Remind clients that a release won’t bring media coverage if it’s a tome. In fact, the opposite will occur. Overblown press releases actually discourage readership. Even worse, they repel busy journalists who need their information in succinct, lucid terms. If your client develops a reputation for issuing turgid news stories (which can happen quickly), journalists will ignore everything your client issues after that.
  3. Consider a mini-campaign. Let’s say you’re drafting a release about a product enhancement. If you can summarize the news in a couple of paragraphs, it’s a one-and-done deal. But if your draft is a mile long due to the resulting changes, implications and new customer benefits of the enhancement, pitch the idea of a mini-campaign to your client: an initial release that sketches the broad strokes followed up quickly by one or two releases that dive into the details.
  4. Backspace over those rote quotes. You know the ones. “We’re delighted to …” and “This is a true win-win for …” (Sadly, the kind of quotes I’ve been asked to write hundreds of times.) Yes, quotes from a senior executive or company spokesperson can add value … but too often they don’t. Do your best to steer clear of these inanities by gently suggesting a quote-free release. If that won’t fly, draft quotes that actually contain information. Sometimes, I’ll steal an important nugget of info from the second paragraph and write a quote based on that.
  5. Create an editorial calendar. This is a longer-term strategy that can make your life a whole lot easier. An editorial calendar does two key things: it presents your clients with a tangible plan for issuing news (which they’ll appreciate) and it helps them stay focused on issuing one piece of news at a time. As a result, they’ll be less inclined toward kitchen sink releases. Start with a three- or six-month plan and then work with your client to build a more detailed long-rage plan.
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