|"I'm pretty sure that stone goes over there..."|
|The Inverted Pyramid. Get to know it.|
The basic premise of the Inverted Pyramid is this - you put all of the most important information up at the top of your news release. I know, there are some of us out there who want to be mystery novel writers who would love to keep our readers in suspense until the last minute, but that's not what's going to fly with reporters. Many of them are working hard to file a few stories each day, and they don't have the time to read through your release to get the big payoff. In fact, given the volume of news releases that cross an editor's desk in a day, your release may have an average of five seconds or less to grab his or her attention.
Not a lot of time for exposition.
|Joe Friday just wants the facts|
|Cut away the unnecessary stuff|
Where does this get sideways? I'm glad you asked. I have taught many public information officers through the years, and one of the exercises we do is to have them write a sample press release based on a hypothetical event. The people who have the toughest time understanding this concept are law enforcement and fire rescue PIOs. Not because they can't understand the concept, but because just about everything else they write is done in a chronological format. If the first call to the station for help came in at 2 p.m., but the chlorine gas wasn't released until 4:30 p.m., no one is really going to care about the two and a half hours that led up to the potentially lethal event. A release should focus on the most important and critical piece of information before anything else is even mentioned.
|Some truly inverted pyramids|
Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida