Four Tips on Press Release Writing

press release writingAs CEO of 5W Public Relations, a PR agency in NYC, Ronn Torossian works everyday to help his clients hone their PR messages via press release writing. While he admits that nobody is perfect and even 5WPR occasionally makes mistakes, there are several common mistakes Ronn Torossian says you can – and should – easily avoid when writing a press release.

#1 – Pointless modifiers

Also known as “empty” adverbs, these are words that add little or nothing to your content. Words like “very” or “really” doesn’t convey anything. They evoke importance, but without any scale. Thus, both the publisher and the reader have no idea how “very” or “really” you mean. In these cases, Ronn Torossian recommends choosing a word that properly evokes scale, or lose those pointless modifiers altogether when writing a press release.

#2 – Passive voice

Bottom line, editors HATE passive voice. Passive voice is the opposite of the expected – and accepted – standard. To avoid passive voice in when writing a press release, follow these steps:

  • Discern which noun is doing the chief action and place this noun at the beginning of the sentence.
  • If there is no action, rework the sentence if possible.
  • Avoid “being” verbs when possible, unless connected to action verbs.
  • Remember, press release writing may not sound like “conversational” writing, but it’s not supposed to.

The reason for this step is integral to the media industry. Remember, they are answering questions with each news story. None of these questions are passive. Therefore, your writing must show activity.

#3 – Word order and accidental repetition

This can be easy to overlook, particularly when reading articles such as “a” and “the.” Often, these mistakes happen when your word processing program incorrectly “autocorrects” a typo. “Tha the” then becomes “The the.” Of course, this is just one example of this how can happen. Read that last sentence again. Did you spot the mistake on the first read through? No? See how easy can that happen? What about that one, did you see it? After writing a press release, Ronn Torossian recommends reading your content backwards to help you find repeated words or misplaced words.

#4 – The use of overly complex sentence structure

It is important to remember that most news articles are written at a 5th to 7th grade level. This means your press releases should avoid overly complex words and compound sentences when possible. Keep your prose simple direct and fact-based. Avoid flowery literary terms, multi-syllable words and crammed-together phrasing. Use periods when tempted to use conjunctions. Avoid semicolons except in lists. When in doubt, break up that sentence. Do not use complex words when simple but evocative words will do. As stated by Ronn Torossian, the goal is to get people to read AND understand your press releases or public relations messages.

Follow these four content tips along with these resources for better writing and you will see better success with your public relations efforts. For help crafting messages the right way the first time, contact Ronn Torossian and 5WPR here.


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Audi’s Spock Showdown Brilliant Social Media PR

Many of us at 5WPR have been interested to see what the next YouTube-released major product commercial would be. We talked about the hilarious Jeff Gordon “test drive” commercial previously. Now Audi has grabbed the baton at a full sprint with their Star Trek “Challenge.”

The two-minute commercial spot stars two generations of Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto, in an escalating series of competitions that leaves them racing to the golf course. Loser buys lunch.

Movie promotion

It’s not surprising to see a star from an upcoming summer blockbuster getting some crossover PR from a quick commercial spot. What’s unique about this particular commercial is that Audi not only tipped its hat to Zachary Quinto’s “summer job,” they built their entire commercial around it. This spot is a blatant appeal to Trekkies. A mixture of hot cars and cool technology – without the almost obligatory hot model – this commercial aims directly at people who are already planning to see the movie.

Crossover appeal

Car guys will love this commercial because the cars involved are stellar. Star Trek fans will love this commercial because, for them, this pairing is interstellar. The cool gadgets and luxury amenities are cool and luxurious no matter why you are watching the commercial. So, even though it appeals directly to Trekkies, it has genuine crossover potential.


At 5WPR, we believe that with any multimedia PR campaign, quotable takeaways are a must. This commercials excels in this area. When another fan asks what the commercial is about, it is easy to give them the “highlights.” Any time you want content to go viral, your viewer needs to be able to tell someone: “This happened, then this, then this happened…” and so on. The more specific memorable points you can drive home, the more successful your PR campaign will likely be.

Nimoy sings Bilbo Baggins

This sort of short clip breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to a very specific subset of viewers. It’s likely that many younger Trek fans have never seen the eclectic circa 1970s music video with Nimoy singing about a Hobbit. But those who have seen it will laugh out loud and immediately tell their friends.

Ronn Torossian’s bottom line…

Timely movie promotion, crossover appeal, surprises and quotables – this commercial hits on many levels. This is simple, classic entertainment PR, cutting-edge social media PR and a terrific win for Audi.For what you need to create your own viral YouTube super hit, contact Ronn Torossian and 5WPR here.


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How to Stand out in a crowded nonprofit Market

Nonprofit PR

Health charities, particularly those who raise money for cancer research, have historically focused on finding a cure. One company, which raises money for the fight against leukemia and lymphoma, has launched a comparatively bold campaign. The effort certainly positions this organization apart from the rest, and Ronn Torossian says that the tactic is a gamble that could pay off big. The campaign is called “Someday is Today.” Instead of focusing on finding a cure, it celebrates progress already being made. The commercial that introduced the campaign shows scenes of individuals reading a front-page headline: Cancer Cured!

The theme is carried across the entire campaign spectrum:

Print ads: The campaign will appear in several major print markets across the country. The target market most likely to suffer from these illnesses not only still reads the paper, they tend to prefer it. That may change over the next decade, but, for now, print is still a vital part of a successful health-based PR campaign.

Website: An informative, responsive and easy-to-navigate website is no longer a luxury. It’s a must, even for a charity public relations campaign:  The vast majority of consumers and donors now check out a company, campaign or organization online before they do anything else. Ronn Torossian advises you to know you are ready.

Billboards: Some people may complain about them, but there is no doubt that billboards work. Positioned correctly, a message on a billboards will not only grab attention, it will stick with you, replaying again and again, imprinting on potential donors.

Social media: Ronn Torossian considers social networks to be some of the best avenues for any type of PR. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest can be a small budget nonprofit PR campaign’s best weapon. Multimedia messages are easy to integrate, easy to share and inherently dynamic due to the real time dynamic of consumer response.

This sort of wide spectrum, multimedia approach is traditionally reserved for profit-driven PR campaigns. However, with more consumers interacting via social media and getting their news from mobile devices, multimedia campaigns such as these are becoming the norm. How does your nonprofit PR campaign stack up? Are you hitting all the right markets with all the right media, and are you getting the results you should be? If the answer is not – or you can’t answer those questions with any certainty – contact Ronn Torossian and 5WPR.

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Four Steps to Smart Charity Public Relations

Ronn Torossian, NY PR expert and CEO of 5W  Public Relations, gets down to the basics with some of the foundational steps to charity PR that many people miss.

#1 – Simplify the message

Your organization can be about many things. You can help lots of people and invest in a variety of different good works. But, when communicating that message to potential donors, your message needs to be simple, concise and easy to understand. The idea here is to create a charity PR message that can be immediately understood and, most importantly, visualized by your ideal donors. When they can visualize the message, they will be more likely to give.

#2 – Communicate the message across a variety of media

Your potential donors will come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and should be able to interact with your organization in a variety of ways. No single approach will work with all donors. Charity PR is simply not one size fits all. 5WPR specializes in a multimedia PR approach for that very reason.

#3 – Recruit volunteers

You can’t just ask them. For volunteer recruitment to work as it should, you need to be on point with your message, and it must be delivered to the right people. When you recruit volunteers, focus first on those most likely to not just serve willingly, but also bring others into the cause. As Elie Hirschfeld, a prominent donor always says, a persuasive message is not good enough. It must be “sticky,” a message that compels volunteers to spread the word.

#4 – Teach them to share the message

A compelling message is not enough. The final necessary step is to instruct your volunteers on HOW to share the message. This can be made easier if your charity PR message follows the “simple” and “easy to share” rules. Brief sound bites that can be quickly understood and make the right emotional connection.

While 5WPR recommends all of these steps, Ronn Torossian stresses that these steps alone are just the beginning. They are the foundation of a campaign, not the campaign in itself. Each step should be planned, prepared, weighed and measured before it is put into action.

For help with your next charity campaign or to get advice on your nonprofit PR, click here for more information from Ronn Torossian.


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3 Reasons PR Firms Use Youtube to Build Brands

When building a reputation online, image is paramount. Your image is your brand. It’s what people understand you to be and how they talk about you to their family and friends. This is why social media has such incredible public relations potential and why YouTube, in particular, offers a tuned-in PR firm their best shot at getting their clients entrenched online. Here are 3 ways PR Firms like 5WPR use Youtube to build their clients brands.

1. New product releases

Releasing a new product on YouTube can be a huge bump for a company trying to establish itself in the market. Look at the success the GoPro brand had with their YouTube marketing program. To date there 10,700,000 company and user-generated YouTube videos related to GoPro on YouTube alone. One of the latest releases, less than a month old, already has more than 1.2 million views. As a company, GoPro chose YouTube for its public relations push largely because it is a video-based product. But the success of the program is based not on product but on content. If the GoPro content was less dynamic, the campaign may have failed. If they had made a few “review” videos and never showed people how their product could change their lives, GoPro may have been a flash in the pan. But instead, they struck a nerve, delighted millions of users and turned their CEO into a billionaire.

2. How to’s

That’s not to say reviews are unimportant. User reviews, specifically, can be Internet gold. Manufacturers spot and correct potential defects and communicate directly with reviewers. And enlisting an army of excited, enthusiastic users as their review team allows them to reach markets that analytics never could. Some people want an overview. Others want to know how a product performs under very specific circumstances. User reviews have a better chance of covering all the potential scenarios than traditional market testing. Plus, the sort of unbiased endorsement users can offer is a type of targeted public relations that no campaign could ever match.

3. Viral potential

YouTube is the single most dynamic public relations tool available to anyone, anywhere. With some production know-how and an understanding of what engages and motivates viewers, you can turn this free multimedia resource into a public relations goldmine. People say that no one can predict what may go viral on YouTube, and that may be true for amateur videographers making movies for fun. But it is the responsibility of a professional PR agency to understand how to make content that pops, that is sticky and dynamic. For example, this video which went viral, was actually staged for a Gillete PR campaign. This is why it’s important to create the sort of content that will push buttons and get people clicking.

Embracing all available tools and platforms is vital for a PR campaign to succeed.

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Is The Gilette Longoria Stunt Staged Or Real?

longoria gilette stunt

As the CEO of top NYC PR firm, 5WPR, I hope I don’t lose my Yankee Card for this one. But as a PR guy, there is a lot to admire about a recent YouTube video featuring Tampa Bay Rays star, Evan Longoria. In the video, a reporter is interviewing Longo when a foul ball rockets toward her head. At the last second Longoria reaches out and grabs the ball out of the sky barehanded, obviously saving the woman from grave injury or death.

Gilette Longoria Stunt

Now, Yankee faithful know that Derek Jeter could have made that catch, no problem. But, as the video went viral on social media, questions about it began to arise. Fox Sports, Huffington Post and even Snopes weighed in on whether or not the video was staged.

But every single one of those reports had one thing in common. They included the video. A video that was watched again and again and again. Now people who never watch baseball know who Longoria is. They know who the Rays are and they have reason to be … ahem … impressed.

But here’s the rub …

There are several reasons to believe this impressive feat is actually clever PR wrapped in a fairly realistic package.

  • First, the reporter’s microphone has no media identification, and the Chyron graphic has no media logo. So, either the outlet filming this is incredibly shy or there is no media outlet filming this.
  • Second, in a stadium where every section of the baseline is sponsored, only one logo is visible … the one in the center of the entire video. Gillette.
  • Third, Evan Longoria happens to be one of Gillette’s new “Young Guns” spokesmen.

So, what’s my verdict? I’m saying “ad.” But I’m also saying this is a very smart use of both solid film work and clever social media PR. The graphics are clean and the clip has all the hallmarks of a very viral bit of media.

Whatever the sponsor, whether it was Gillette, the Rays or an unnamed PR agency paid to produce this video, it was money well spent. Brands have been strengthened and both Gillette and the Rays are part of the national conversation.

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5 Ways Brands Stay Relevant

The NFL draft prognosticators are so often dead wrong in both getting the draft order right and guessing what the teams will do. But they remain relevant and respected. How can this be? Sharp public relations definitely plays a part. These prognosticators are a function of the overall NFL brand, sparking interest and providing conversation topics. The goal of entertainment PR is not necessarily to make the right predictions, but to generate buzz for the league. In that area they get an A+ … but how?

Ronn Torossian, the CEO of top NY PR Firm 5WPR, reveals the 5 way brands stay relevant:

1. Establishing a Reputation

All of these prognosticators have varying ties to the NFL, from former players and coaches to current color commentators. Others have been covering sports for so long that fans cannot imagine football season without them. These individuals have established their reputation based on their prior accolades and name recognition, not on how accurately they predict the draft. Fans trust these guys because they believe that these individuals have access to inside information. This sense of mystery amplifies their credibility.

2. Making Bold Predictions

Part of furthering that reputation is making bold predictions. If the prediction does not come true, both the league and the fan get entertainment value out of it. After all, every armchair QB has to have some “idiot” to poke fun at. If on the off chance that prediction comes to fruition, fans will be astounded by that prognosticator’s genius, giving his reputation a boost. Better yet, that one correct prediction will get endless airplay, further cementing the swami’s prowess.

3. The Power of Logic

Making the prediction is only step one. It is followed by a long, detailed rationale behind this choice. The commentator will combine their insider info with the obvious needs and wants of a particular team. They will play out possible scenarios which underline their choice. Not only does this provide quality content for fans, it keeps a failed prediction from causing any loss of credibility. If the logic is transparent, then obviously the guys actually making the pick knew something the rest of us didn’t know.

4. Giving Viewers Quality Content to Share, Discuss, and Debate

After the prediction is made and the logic outlined, it is the fan’s turn to take the information and run with it. Again, it isn’t so much about accuracy as it is accessibility. Ronn Torossian of 5WPR believes fans will take these predictions along with their personal comments, questions, and concerns to Twitter, Facebook, and sports talk radio, providing an endless cross-platform content barrage. This will spark debates and widen the circle of the draft spotlight. The more conversations they start, the more potential viewers will tune in next season.

5.  There is Always Next Year

As soon as the draft is over, discussion shifts to how these choices will impact teams the following season, thereby creating a whole new set of predictions, followed by a whole new set of debates, and the cycle continues. The NFL is a respected brand and therefore produces respected prognosticators. This respect, in turn, feeds off and builds on each other in an endless cycle season to season.

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Benefits and Pitfalls of Rapid-Fire Social Media

Ronn Torossian on rapid social mediaTwitter can be an amazing marketing tool. When it comes to getting a sentiment or message out fast to a vast number of people, Twitter is tops.

However, this prime social media Public Relations tool can also create havoc with your overall brand. Ronn Torossian breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly about PR in 140 characters or less.

The Good

If brevity is the soul of wit, Twitter is brilliant. Capped at 140 characters, the true power of Twitter is that it forces you to be concise. Handled by a professional PR agency, your message can be concentrated into its most impactful – and quotable – context. Messages, images, even video links can be shared quickly and easily.

This means your content can be packaged, sent and received in an instant, then shared exponentially across the globe. Having a sale? Starting a new product line? Re-branding, publishing a book, releasing a movie or a record? Twitter can blast that good news out to everyone. Plus, the conversation dynamic of Twitter allows fans to respond, repost and re-tweet in real time. This keeps the buzz at a fever pitch indefinitely.

The Bad

But if you send out something on Twitter, there’s no getting it back. No matter how fast you take it down, your message is out there. It’s like firing a bullet. Once it leaves the gun, there’s no getting it back. Even if you reconsider, assume that one of your followers already took a screenshot, capturing the moment forever.

The lesson here is think before you Tweet. How will you feel about the message when you are not so fired up? Because, chances are, that is when other media sources will get a hold of it and start reposting it all over cyberspace. Suddenly you are answering questions about why you felt a certain way – and you may not even feel that way anymore.

The Ugly

When you are in the moment, it can be easy for the frustration or anger to get the best of you. The nearly instant responses of back and forth Twitter messaging has the feel of an actual conversation. The rough reality here, though, is that this is a conversation being witnessed by untold millions, none of whom will ever hear the entire context of conversation.

Suddenly snippets of your argument are being posted and re-tweeted across the web. And it is impossible to explain “what you really meant” on that exponential a scale. You simply cannot counter all the misquotes and out-of-context sound bites.

And you cannot stop them either. Since none of us can completely trust ourselves to be discreet in the midst of a heated exchange, do you really want to have that argument in front of millions of people? Especially when most of them can’t quite hear you or came in late?

Ronn Torossian  point is simple. Save your fights for more private and less permanent situations. When it comes to Twitter, fight about it and then forget it is not an option.

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Public Relations Firm Counsels Caution in Crisis

ronn torossian update blog

When you live your life in the public eye, chances are sooner or later you will find yourself dealing with an uncomfortable situation. Mistakes may have been made or, perhaps, you or your company may have been accused of errors. At that moment, the facts of the case matter much less than your reaction to the situation.

While it is understandable to vigorously defend oneself in the face of negative PR, 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian suggests a careful and considered response. Sure, when something potentially negative happens, most strong people wish to address it as soon as possible. That is an understandable response, and it can be the right one. As long as that response is measured, planned and controlled. Let’s look at some scenarios.

#1 – You make a mistake

We’re all human, but there is some truth to the idea that the only thing some people love more than a success story is a fall from grace. Think of that mistake as an unexploded bomb. It may feel like you are already getting shelled, but if you immediately fire back, chances are that mistake you’re holding will really explode. Instead, your response must be cautious, careful and tactful. A difficult proposition in a highly emotional situation. But it is possible when you have the right representation.

#2 – You get accused of a mistake

You did nothing wrong but now at least some people are convinced of your guilt. It’s humiliating, frustrating and can leave you angry – with nowhere to direct that justifiable anger. Here’s the problem, if you decide to respond while angry, no matter how justified, you may make matters worse. While it is true that many people like to think the worst, many will believe the truth if presented properly. It is not enough just to tell the truth, it must be packaged in a way people want to hear it.

#3 – Your employee makes a mistake

Depending on the severity of the offense, it may be tempting to fire them and just move on. But doing so can leave far too many questions unanswered. In 2012, a major media network was accused of doctoring a recording to implicate a potentially innocent man of a crime. It worked. The producers were subsequently fired and the network moved on as if all was right with the world. Then, months later, another mistake was made. Guess what the first thing that came up was? Yep. That “old” news was suddenly breaking news again. Instead of dealing with the current mistake the network was dealing with accusations of institutional corruption. They could not deal with the actual issue because an unresolved issue was in the way.

In all of these instances, your first response may be defensive. That’s understandable. But you must squash that reflex and think about the response to your response. Your first call should be to a public relations firm. Agencies like 5WPR handle crisis PR on a regular basis, and we know exactly how to address these situations.

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All Press Is Good Press Is Indeed A Myth

With well-known PR phrases like these, you may be tempted to believe they are true.  But as 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian knows, this “All press is good press” idea is one of the biggest myths in the public relations industry. Reputation is everything, in any business. Bad press can have significant negative ramifications.

Adoring fans and interested spectators will tune into the red carpet pre-show on awards night just to see what celebrities are wearing. And the day-after coverage will not only cover who won which awards, but who looked the best and, more importantly, the worst. The best dressed will have their careers discussed and other positive accolades. The worst dressed will have their horrific fashion fail dissected in embarrassing detail.

A fashion fail during a highly publicized event can completely derail a promising narrative. On a night when they were hoping to elicit positive TV commentary, tweets and glowing press coverage, an unsuspected celeb may just end up as fodder for TMZ.

Ronn Torossian of 5WPR further explains that this doesn’t just apply to public events either. Being in the public eye means that somebody is always watching. It may not be fair, but it is the price of fame.  The paparazzi know that they can just as easily sell a candid picture of a disheveled, frumpy celebrity as they can a red carpet glamour shot.

While some celebrity fashion flops are simply a matter of poor taste or ill-fitting garments, some celebrities will take a fashion risk and wear something wacky, risky, or flat out risque just to generate some attention. This kind of flash in the pan publicity can do more harm than good, causing that celebrity to lose credibility and respect in the public eye. Cheap gimmicks and “wardrobe malfunctions” rarely pan out as intended.

Look at it this way, that fashion faux pas may have made front page news, but it may have also replaced a potentially priceless fashion PR opportunity. 5WPR knows that when so much about celebrity is public image, that image needs to send the right message at all times.

A bad fashion incident, either accidental or “accidental,” could burn up precious time in the spotlight.  Worse, it can follow you for years. Look back at the BEST and WORST dressed lists of fashion mags and post gala reports. There’s a reason why the same names seem to grace both lists each year. Think about it.

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