De-link self-esteem from press releases

By Lauren Edwards

You are a good writer, ordinarily. But no matter what, your press releases keep getting all but shredded.

Or if not shredded, at least changed for no good reason.

If I had a magic sword, I would sever the connection between your self-esteem and corporate press releases.

Pleeeeease don’t judge your skill or value on what happens during the press-release approval process.

And don’t let others do so. At annual review time, let other kinds of writing (blog posts, reports, emails, bylines and so on) be proof points about your performance, not press releases.

I can’t tell you how many hundreds — thousands? — of times I’ve seen perfectly good writing made perfectly bad during editing. It’s the norm. Don’t take it personally.

Less often, I’ve also seen bosses model what they are looking for, which comes out looking like a gut job even if the result is actually pretty good. Again, don’t take it personally. Smile, make the changes, note your boss’ unconscious biases about voice — and emulate them.

Then detach.

Easier said than done, I know. You probably feel that your reputation and even your promotion rest on your ability to get a press release through unscathed. But it’s not true. Step back and see the big picture.

Typically, a corporate press release is a jigsaw puzzle assembled by too many departments, each with too much say over how the release is put together.  Check out this list below. It illustrates why it’s impossible to please all and why the effort to do so ends in pleasing none.

Competing interests

Journalists care about …

… news value, surprise, usefulness in lives of readers, a sense of discovery, data, interpretation

PR pros care about …

… clean approval process, meaningful coverage, bigger budgets, new clients


Clear messaging, verbatim pickup, marketshare, impressions


Visual aids, product details, value proposition, benefits, features, differentiators


Equity, stock price, IPO or buyout prospects, thought leadership, industry influence


Pride in company, sense of belonging, clear direction, perspective and context


Pain points, usefulness in their own lives, differentiators, peer opinion, reviews, cost


Business model, size of prospective market, pain points, differentiators, customer info, trends


Growth potential, factors that could accelerate or “de-celerate” growth, industry overview, repercussions from related industries, executive performance, competitive landscape


If you liked this post, please share it with your team or on social media.

If you aren’t already getting my posts delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning, please sign up here.

Check out my full menu of posts here, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. Almost all are practical tips you can immediately apply to your daily PR work.


Lauren Edwards is a former reporter for the Associated Press. She has been creating, customizing and delivering workshops for science and technology teams since 2000.

WriteCulture is now booking workshops for 2019. Click here to start an exploratory conversation.