Saturday, September 25, 2004

Hello there! (And visit over here!)

Here's the first post I made on this blog, before I found that Squarespace would be a better place to do my Website all about press releases. (That's because I saw right off that Blogger, at present, doesn't even let you do sub pages, from anything I could find.)

So come visit my "professional" site (well, the one other than, my real day job;-)

Greetings and solutions! (Well, I hope solutions, anyway;-)

Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Barney Lerten, a 25-year "professional" journalist (and long before that in amateur-land). I live in Bend, Oregon, a booming High Desert town of, oh, 60,000 or so, with my darlin' wife Deb and two kittycats.

I work for a great Website, where I write a LOT of local news. But as the only reporter, we also do something pretty unique, to cover more ground than one person could ever hope to cover. We post press releases (the ones we get electronically, anyway). ALL press releases we get via e-mail, of local import. (Thank goodness for the world of cut-paste!)

I've been doing this for close to five years now, and so, while I'd seen tons of press releases over the decades, I've personally handled and edited MANY more in the past five years. And I've learned a LOT about what folks out there are doing right - and wrong - with press releases.

Not everyone gets into the public relations field, but FAR more folks than just the PR professionals find a need to do regular or occasional press releases - and they've often asked me, "How?"

In the past, I pointed them to what now stands as a vast archive of the good, bad (and yep, the ugly) of press releases on our Website, and basically said, "pick a style you like and copy it."

But there's got to more to it than that. And there is! So I figure, why not share what I've learned and help myself in the process. Yes, this Website will be a chance for me to help you, and myself at the same time. Or as Jerry McGuire pleaded, "Help me help you!"

I've said many times that there are thousands of ways to write a news article right, and thousands of ways to write it wrong. The same goes for press releases. I'm not about to claim there's one "correct" way to write all of them - in fact, my plan is to create sections on this site that talk about the various categories of press releases, and tips and techniques for each.

Yep, thousands of ways to write them right, and wrong - the trick is to be on the right side of the line - not formulaic or A-B-C, just ... an inviting release that gets the message across to whom you want, in timely fashion. So, this is a chance to start assembling tips, saluting the really good

There are some experts out there who claim press releases are awful, that they take a one-size-fits-all approach and try to curry the favor of editors, when in the world of the Internet you can talk directly to the people you're trying to reach.

True, up to a point. But really, the Net has made it possible for everyone to be a writer, and the idea that press releases are going away is like saying the computer created the "paperless office" Ha! Anything but. It's buried us in information, a lot of it on paper.

So yes, the tips and techniques will be focused on what to say in your releases, as well as what not to say, what not to leave out, what formating to use (MS Word) and not (Publisher???), grammar and style and all of that - much of which comes into play no matter what medium you use, paper or e-mail.

So let's get started! And I look forward to hearing from you about what areas you'd like covered. As a reporter, I never claim to have "all the answers." I just try to have the right questions. The answers then follow.