Recommendations for writing press releases
There are two key types of Press Releases that an ICT RTD project needs to keep in mind:
- Press release announcing the launch of the project
- Press release at key project milestones (e.g. announcing technical breakthroughs).
Press releases announcing the launch of a project:
Key partners in a new project should issue a Press Release for their local press as soon as the contract is signed with the Commission. This press release should:
- be simple & short (maximum length of 1 A4 page)
- be written in the journalists' language
- focus on:
- the achievement of a local company / institution in securing EU funding in a very competitive environment,
- The fact that groundbreaking research into next generation ICT will now be undertaken by a local company / institution X.
Recommendations for all press releases
The following guidelines are key for all press releases:
As a rule an effective press release will be short (no more than one A4 page, and usually much shorter), will incorporate key elements that make your project interesting or successful and will be understandable to those who are not experts in your specific domain.
Key piece of Advice:
Before starting to draft a press release, try to take some distance from the subject. You may find it useful to ask a non-technical colleague with communication or marketing skills to draft the press release, once they have been briefed by members of the technical team. The perspective of a non-technical person can ensure a more widely understandable and usable text for journalists
Concentrate on the message:
- Ensure the press release answers the "Who, what, where, when, why and How?" aspects of the project.
- What is the project doing / achieved? Be specific:
- Give a real life example when possible to show the benefits for the reader.
- Illustrate real world problems that the project's developments can solve.
- Where do you want to go with your results? How the service or technology developed will be deployed, now or in the future
- What is significant and unique about your project?
The way you express yourself is very important. Don't forget:
- The aim is to inspire a newspaper article – remember this as you write.
- Date the press release and indicate where it was written.
- Short, concise and specific messages (the fewer the better), can be easily picked up on by non-expert media (e.g. 'The Internet can save your life' or "Local institution X receives 150k euros of EU funding")
- Write in the present tense, third person and the active voice (“We foresee” instead of 'it is foreseen by the project')
- Be factually correct and only include information that adds some value.
- Keep it short: use clear and use concise sentences. Start bulleted lists with action verbs
- Use plain spoken language that most people can read without further explanation.
- When you have big news, such as a major technological breakthrough, try to reach a broader audience and also contact specialised media
- Include links to your website or other relevant information to help journalists needing more.
Ask for help:
- Contact a communication expert in your consortium or the Project Officer for advice
- Ask a native speaker to write (or at least proof read) the press release and give you feedback
- If a technical person writes the press release ask a non-technical person to read your press release to check they understand it easily.
- A list of European/national/local media may help to distribute the information.
- Acronyms, abbreviations, technical jargon, flowery adjectives and clichés
- Aspects or processes not relevant to people outside of the project
- General or over-used words (solution, innovation, platform…)
- Overstating the outcomes of the project