The weakest element of the writing? Most rely on passive voice, or over-dependence on “to be” verb phrases. Unless you're auditioning for Hamlet, I'd excise any use of the "to be" verb phrase. A simple example:
|By Stephan Czuratis (Jazz-face) |
(Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
Active Voice: “Chicken Percussion today launched a new line of ergonomic drum sticks.”
A reliance on weak to-be verbs kills any energy in your news story. “It was announced…” and “is being launched” sounds as if everything’s after-the-fact. Remember, news releases should deliver news – and in today’s 24/7 news cycle, immediacy (or conveying a sense of immediacy) is essential.
Speaking of voices, I found a good example in a news release from Voicebrook, Inc. Consider two versions of the lead paragraph for a news release:
Lake Success, NY, August 06, 2015 --(PR.com)-- Voicebrook, Inc. is sponsoring Cerner’s 2015 Laboratory Learning Workshop. This two and a half day educational opportunity will be held at Cerner’s World Headquarters campus, in Kansas City, MO. The Workshop is being held on August 10th through the 12th. A Voicebrook representative will be available to answer questions and discuss seamless speech recognition reporting solutions for laboratories using Cerner’s Anatomic Pathology solutions.
Kansas City, MO., August 6, 2015 --(PR.com)— An Aug. 10-12 Laboratory Learning Workshop exploring speech recognition reporting solutions for labs takes place here at Cerner’s World Headquarters campus in Kansas City. The workshop, sponsored by Voicebrook, Inc., will include a Voicebrook representative to answer questions and discuss seamless speech recognition reporting for labs using Cerner’s Anatomic Pathology solutions.
The shift in tone makes a difference. Removing passive-voice phrases such as “is sponsoring,” “will be held,” and “will be available” focuses the reader's attention on what’s happening. Active verbs such as sponsored help add a sense of immediacy to the release.
One minor quibble: use the location of the event – Kansas City, in this case – as your dateline, rather than the location of your company (Lake Success, NY). A business editor in KC scans for local datelines, and may skip a release that talks about a business from another state.