Yeah, yeah. I know. There are thousands of articles about “How to be…” this, or “What you need to be…” that. Well, here’s another one…
To be good at anything, you should have good senses. Not just the olfactory ones, but professional “senses” that serve you well while doing your day-to-day job. It’s no different for writers, editors, and proofreaders. They have to have a storyteller’s sense of flow, an artist’s sense of imagery, a musician’s sense of timing and rhythm, and a drill sergeant’s sense of demanding perfection at every waking moment of the day! Whew. Sorry about that.
Anyway, writer, editors and proofreaders (I’m not going to type that out all the time, so I’ll tap into my government experience and make an acronym out of it: WEP; meh, good enough) are no different than any other profession (ha! Yeah right!). They need to have their “senses” in order. Here are some additional senses that WEPs should have. And if you want to be one, you should be well-versed in these also.
Sense of Urgency
Every WEP needs to have a sense of urgency when they are doing their work. If you’re commissioned to write something, there’s no need in dawdling – get to it! Do your research, outline, and first draft and have something to show for your time. Impress yourself with your writing speed. Impress yourself with your ability to find mistakes in a draft. Impress yourself by arguing over the use (or not) of an Oxford comma. But don’t mess around. Start writing (or editing, or proofreading)!
Sense of Pride
Every project a WEP contributes to is a work of art. Not everyone will appreciate it. It won’t wind up in the top literary journals or be lauded by your local book club. But, it’s important that you have a sense of pride in your work. Even if your boss rips up your first draft and tells you to start over (or try a different profession), know that you created something out of nothing. Take pride in the…
Sense of Process
That’s right. Process. I’ve written about process before. I actually love the process. As I’ve grown older, it’s not just the written word that excites me, but the process to get there. Thinking. Outlining. Drafting. Revising. Yelling. Screaming. Crying. Punching. Sulking. Yelling more. Talking to myself. Revising. Submitting.
Sense of Self
WEPing will give you a great sense of self (if you don’t already have one). It will have you soaring above the clouds and thinking you’re the best WEP in world (nay, universe!) or have you rocking back and forth in the corner wondering if you have any value to society at all. But isn’t that cool? You really learn all there is about yourself when you’re creating something. It may not be your mission in life, but give it a shot. Write something. Edit something. Proofread something. You’ll learn something new and leave the endeavor with a good sense of self.
Now get out there and WEP!
I’m going to switch things up a little from my previous blog posts (The Freelance Life, parts 1 & 2) and – throughout the rest of the year – share some tips on how to write different types of documents. I hope it will help!
As most of you are aware, getting good press for your event, product launch, or general good news can be tough. Readers are inundated with news (both good and bad), social media is the go-to source for many people, and news organizations are sometimes overwhelmed.
Even though social media has become the standard for receiving (as well as generating) news, it’s still important to know how to write a good ‘ol fashioned press release for traditional media outlets.
What is a Press Release?
A press release is an announcement to the media about an event. The event could be anything: a grand opening of a store, a new product launch, a human interest story, etc. Most organizations, whether large or small, use press releases to share news with the media. Hopefully, the release will culminate in a positive story in the targeted media.
I’ve written dozens of press releases throughout my career: in politics, the private sector, and in government. Though I’m not a classically trained journalist, I’ve learned what generally works when writing a release and how best to get press (which is not guaranteed, more on that below).
Journalists are taught many things about structuring a story. Two of them will serve you well while drafting your own release:
1. Always include Who, What, Where, How, Why, and When elements
2. Write in the Inverted Pyramid style
If journalists are comfortable using these elements when they write a story, wouldn’t it be prudent to use these same elements in your release?
The first element is pretty self-explanatory. In your release you should include the basic facts about your event. Who is it for? What is it about? Where is it being held (or where did it happen)? How is it going to work? Why is it important? When did it happen (or when will it happen)? Including the basic facts of the event will show the media that you are thorough in your approach and you understand that they need as much information as possible.
You want to spark interest in your story, so if you forget to include the “Why” for example, the journalist is going to file your release in the circular bin (ouch).
The second element is one you’ll find in most media stories (on- and offline). The Inverted Pyramid simply means that the main facts are in the first sections of the article – generally in the first two paragraphs. That way, if the reader decides to just skim the article then move on, they’ll get the gist of the entire piece. It also serves as a “hook” to entice the reader to continue reading.
Once you’ve written your release with those two elements, it’s important to include at least one quote from a stakeholder that “teases” the event. Only include a quote that you are comfortable with seeing in the targeted media. Remember, some media outlets will take your entire release and post/print it (usually smaller papers/websites). If you don’t want to read something in the paper or web, DON’T WRITE IT.
• Just sending a release to your targeted media outlet won’t guarantee coverage of your event. You have a build a relationship with the media contact and follow up after you’ve sent it.
• Make sure to include your full contact information at the top of the release.
• Include a catchy and informative headline
• Keep the release to no more than 2 pages
• At the end of the release use a “#” symbol to indicate the end of the useable content.
• Include a statement about your organization after the “#” symbol so the media can learn more about your mission.
I hope these tips will be helpful as you draft your press release. If you’re still unsure, drop me a line in the comment section or visit my website – cjobudho.weebly.com – for a free consultation about all of your writing and editing needs.
Chris Obudho has over 25 years of writing, marketing, and public communications experience he learned in the public and private sectors. As a technical & marketing writer/editor, he can help you tell the right technical story through actionable content, precise editing, and passionate communications.