We’ve all been there: you give your amazing press release to a coworker or friend and ask them to look it over. After a few anxious minutes they look up from the screen and give you that look – it’s a look that says, “I don’t know how to say this without sounding rude.” They eventually just tell you they didn’t understand what you were trying to say and quickly run away.
Of course it’s better to hear this from someone who’s trying to help you rather than from a smattering of confused editors or, even worse, readers. But in any case finding out that you’ve essentially written nonsense is never fun to hear and can really bring you down.
It’s also easy to get wrapped up in the notion that the person reading your release is an idiot and can barely read English. YOU know what you meant, so why don’t they? Obviously the answer is they’re too dumb to live, right?
Is it really fair to blame the reader if they don’t get what you’re trying to say? Honestly, the easy answer is it is sometimes on their head – but it doesn’t matter.
Get a Second Opinion
Getting an opinion from just one person is, to be honest, a crapshoot. Your colleague or friend or whoever could be a complete genius and still just flat out miss an important point that ties together your entire piece.
They could also just be having an off day and going through some stuff that makes them not pay whole attention to what they’re doing. Say they came into work that day after being up all night with a sick kid plus had an early morning phone call from a divorce lawyer and a flat tire on the way to the office. Do you really think they’re able to pay 100% attention to your press release? Probably not.
It’s not entirely their fault, of course, they’re just stressed out. But make sure to get another opinion to see if something is really wrong. If you keep getting the same confused stares, there’s likely something you need to change.
Why it May Not Matter Anyway
Honestly, though, you may want to amend your writing even if you do get more opinions that back you up. That’s because many of your readers are going to be in the same position your busy/distracted friend/colleague was in when they read it.
The editor you just emailed with your press release hasn’t slept in about a week because there’s been a huge breaking story they’re trying to get under control. One of their key writers just quit because they haven’t gotten a raise in a few years and an intern spilled coffee all over the records room. If your press release isn’t the clearest, most easily read thing they see all day, then they’re going to ignore it when they see it in their email.
Go back over it and see if there’s anything you need to clear up. Can you make the language simpler? Are you sure all the relevant information is up top and easily understandable? Did you forget a small detail that could throw some readers off?
It’s easy to blame the readers, but so often we realize after the fact we could have taken some extra time to get everything 110% correct. Take another look and see if your distracted friend gets it the second time around.
How many people do you usually ask to pre-read your press releases?