Want to ensure that your press releases rise like cream to the top of a journalist's inbox? Here are five questions to mull over before you send out your latest pitch, courtesy of Beth Haiken, VP of corporate citizenship and communications at Waypoint Homes, and Stephanie Corns, director of corporate public relations at Charles Schwab.
1. How would you describe the announcement at a cocktail party? Could you imagine yourself, martini in hand, waxing poetic about, "The Newest and Most Exciting Offers Company X Is Rolling Out This Week?" If you can't visualize yourself enthusiastically discussing the topic as written, you need to rework it.
2. How would you explain it to a kid? The answer to this question is an easy way to eliminate jargon in your releases. Zero children know what a "buzzword" is. And let's be honest, these empty words resonate with few adults.
3. How would you describe it in 100 words or less? 50 words? 25 words? 10 words? If you can't concisely explain what your message is, you've got a problem.
4. What is the average length of sentences and paragraphs? We've said it before and we'll say it again: Keep it short and simple. Today's journalists tune out in seconds. Don't let that happen to you.
5. What reading level does Microsoft Word assign to your document? Use this tool to gain some insight on your writing's readability. Here's an easy tutorial to take you through the steps.
Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis.