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Thursday, 18 March 2021

Writing a Press Release


Tips and suggestions

I recommend reading this:  


How long should a press release be?

The answer is, as few paragraphs as you need to get your points across. Avoid waffle and lengthy explanation. Keep the copy as tight as possible.

A good press release can be written with anywhere from 300-500 words. Once you eclipse the 500 word mark, there's a good chance you're just wasting space on words that will never get read.

Very Important - the opening paragraph

You need to get all the key information into the first paragraph of a press release. The test of success is whether the story can be understood in its entirety just by reading the first paragraph.

The rest of the press release

The second paragraph expands on the first, giving a bit more detail. Often, the third paragraph provides a quote. The fourth paragraph outlines final information, such as other products in development, for example.

Writing tips for press releases

A writing style with sentences that are 25 words in length or fewer helps make your press release punchy.

Concise Facts 

A good press release should take a factual tone and be short and concise, giving the journalist the essence of the story. They will get in touch if they want more information. If you get the news content right and write to the publication's style, you give yourself a good chance of getting your story across.

How to structure a press release

Timing - for immediate release or embargo?

Indicate at the top of the release whether it is for immediate release or under embargo, and if so, give the relevant date. Remember that it can be frustrating for journalists to receive information under embargo that cannot be published straight away. An embargo does not mean that journalists can't contact you about your story. It just means that you are asking them not to publish it before a particular date.

Give the press release a title

The job of the press release title is to grab attention and encourage the journalist to read more. Don't waste time stressing over what title will look like in print - most journalists/editors will change the title to suit their readership.

How to end the press release

Signal the end of the press release with the word "Ends" in bold. After "Ends", write "For further information, please contact" and list your details or those of an appointed person. Do give a mobile number if you can, so that journalists can contact you easily. The more accessible you are, the better.

If any further information is needed, these can go in "Notes to editors" under the contact information. Examples might include background information on the company (called a boilerplate), or a note saying that photos are available. It's helpful to number these points, to make your press release as clean as possible.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Becoming Self Employed?

I recently wrote some notes on 'Becoming Self Employed in the UK' for a research student. They are repeated here: 

Firstly, let us understand the situation from a statistical point of view. In in 2012 there were over 4 million people self-employed. This is set against a figure of about 25 million who are employed. The self-employed figure is rising. Why? Well in the years of recession from 2008 onwards, it seems that people may have chosen self-employment as a way of keeping some income coming in, amongst other things.

Secondly, let’s look at the different categories of self-employed:

·         There are a lot of people in some industry sectors who are ‘self-employed’, but to all other intents & purposes they are just like an employee. These people are often ex-employees of large companies who have been ‘outsourced’ to the ‘contracting’ world. This is particularly prevalent in the IT & oil industries to name a couple where large businesses want to keep down their ‘headcount’ as it makes their financial reporting look good, but in actual fact they still need those other specialist IT people. They recruit these through specialist recruiting companies who act as an ‘umbrella’ organisation shielding the client company from the full liabilities of employing people. I worked in this way for some time and it’s good for both parties most of the time.  In summary, though I would not call these people ‘self-employed’ in the true sense of the word as they have not necessarily taken that leap of faith in themselves and in the marketplace and created a business which will succeed or fail upon their innovation, marketing and business acumen.

·         Then there are the people who have made a lifestyle choice and become self-employed because they want the freedom of working hours, the location where they work and the opportunity to take time off whenever they wish. These people are often in a good financial position, with or without being self-employed. So for the moment, let’s put this group to one side.

·         Likewise, there are other groups who are self-employed without taking the leap of faith as it were. The building industry used to be full of people in this category. Actually, it largely still is. Big building companies like Barratts don’t want to directly employ people, as this leaves them with a heavy liability when there are a few houses to build or when the economy takes a downturn. If they have self-employed people they can shed these quickly as a project comes to a close. It is often the case that a young person will get their training in bricklaying, carpentry and electrical installations etc and then simply become self-employed, that’s how the industry works. In this sector one finds that a father who is in the building industry has a son who is also in the building industry and so the way of working is repeated from generation to generation.

·         Self-employment has also been the choice of many women who want to get back to work after having had children. Often there isn’t an easy way for them to take on a regular job because of school holidays, sickness etc so they develop a self-employed business. This is a growing area, but it really depends what the previous experiences of that person and whether their business sector suits the world of self-employment. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.  To work in this way often takes a lot of determination or and extremely good connections in business.

Now moving on, let’s look at all of the other people who might become self-employed. These range from the young entrepreneur to someone who is making a conscious career change and are moving from employment to the riskier world of self-employment. The person may have had an idea or sees a market opportunity. They then take the risk, leap of faith and become self-employed to develop their business. It is in relation to this group that I would address your question.

You mention the word motivation. Indeed, this group needs to be highly motivated and determined to carry on. It’s not like having an ordinary job where if you don’t really feel like contributing very much you can go slow for a day or two. If you’re developing an idea or a market opportunity you have to keep working at it. But there are much more practical things you have to think of. When I first came self-employed, I thought it was all going to be very easy, but it wasn’t.

Here are a few lessons I learnt:

o   Make sure you understand your market. Test your ideas about the market you’re proposing to go into with anybody. You can find before you start. Don’t choose something just because you like it.

o   Make sure you have a business plan, including different scenarios of worst-case and best case. Always plan for the worst and hope for the best. Get people to check out your plan. There are simple tools you can use like doing a SWOT & RISK analysis.

o   Financial stability, from the worst-case plan work out how you’re going to live. If you’re an entrepreneur, you have to take risks and take a positive view but don’t put you and your family into a financially difficult position.

o   If it’s an idea or product you are developing, how far down the line have you got improving its viability and marketability? It might be better to more fully develop your product plan before you take the leap into self-employment , so that you tease out all of the bugs or worse points before you stand alone financially.

o   Keep your costs down, – you’re not a major international corporation. Find  ways of doing things that don’t cost you money, or at least minimise running costs. A classic case of overheads closing a business is somebody who has an idea to open a shop and take on a lease. The lease costing say £15,000 a year doesn’t seem a lot of money, but remember you have got to make sure that that cost comes out of the product’s profit you sell through your shop before you take a salary. Look for grants and financial support in the early years of your product development. Working from home is one of the best ways of keeping your costs down. Get free help wherever you can.

o   Don’t reinvent the wheel, - somebody’s thought of how to deal with things before, in most cases, so read up. One of the best web sites about business planning is called businessballs.com. Look at sites like the Citizens Advice Bureau for help in starting a self-employed business. Do your research!  

o   Contacts, – do you have the contacts to help you sell your services or products. Many businesses succeed because they already have a great contact within a much larger organisation, and so it easy to launch a service or product. For instance, when I was self-employed, I had a great contact in the BBC and I introduced my services, and very soon I had a contract. Simple! Mmm, but if you don’t have contacts in the right places life can be tough.

o   Support, – being self-employed, opens up a whole range of things which take you away from doing the actual job you started out to do. Dealing with the taxman, keeping your accounts books, understanding legislation. There is loads of stuff. You are effectively in the same position as the managing director of Marks & Spencer’s but without lots of people working for you, who are professionals in these areas. Find ways of getting support without it being a burden to you or being a high cost. Above all, though, keep your record-keeping up-to-date and tidy.

Look for site like these:

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Meetings presentations & interviews

1. Listen to the question
2. Give yourself time to answer 
3. Repeat/paraphrase the question
4. Answer the question
5. Stop!

Speak slowly – listen to yourself

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Job Interview Questions - Prepare!

99 Questions you should be ready to answer

Firstly, work out the answers to several crucial questions that are almost certain to be asked. Secondly, work out answers to other questions which you might be asked. Your personal stock-taking will give some clues for good answers. The way that you ask the questions and the way that you close the interview are also important.

1 - Why should we employ you?

2 - What will you bring to the job?

3 - What contribution could you make?

Answers to Crucial Questions

Remember, an organisation will want to employ you because it believes you will help solve its problems better than the other applicants. Organisations rarely admit to having problems so the question is often implicit. But, you must have a clear answer in your mind to the question 'what problems can you help us to solve and how would you help us solve them' you will then be ready to answer more indirect questions such as:

We have known for a long time that traditional Interviews are not very accurate at selecting the best people for a job. In fact, traditional interviews are only 4% better than choosing with a pin! Never the less traditional selection interviews continue to be the most frequent method of selecting people.

4 - How would you see the job developing in the next two years?

5 - Why do you want to work for us?

6 - What aspect of our advert attracted you to this job?

7 - What makes you think you can fit in with the culture of this organisation?

Another crucial question is:-

8 - Why do you want this job? The answer does not have to be profound but it does have to be clear and lucid (eg the work seems interesting, it is near to home, it offers security etc). The answer must be positive and forward looking. 'Because I am fed up with my present job' would not be a good reply. A better reply might be 'well I have got the work in my present job very well under control and I am looking for something with more challenge'.

Simple questions to be ready for: - 

Sometimes employers ask about other applications so be prepared to answer questions such as:

9 -   Are you currently making other applications?

10 - Have you been invited to any interviews?

11 - Have you had any job offers?

12 - If you received any other job offers which would you choose?
13 - When could you start work here? 

14 - Do you have any holiday commitments?


You should sketch out answers to the following groups of questions:

Questions asking you to describe yourself. Use these as an opportunity to project key points about yourself. Your personal stocktaking should help identify these points. Do not give factual descriptions such as. I am thirty three years old, I am six foot two inches tall, I went to Glossop High School etc. Many of the questions are variations on four main themes:

Open descriptions, strengths, weaknesses, perceptions of others.


15 - Describe yourself in one word

16 - What three major qualities do you possess?

17 - Tell me about yourself.

18 - What kind of person are you really?

19 - If you were to write your own obituary what would you write?

20 - Tell me about your management style.


21 - What are your strengths?

22 - What are your three major skills?


23 - What are your weaknesses? - use this question as an opportunity to say something positive about yourself eg 'I think I sometimes try too hard' or 'Some people say I am too conscientious'

24 - What personal characteristics do you have that get in the way of work?

Perceptions of others

25 - How would a friend describe you?

26 - How would an enemy describe you? - see comments for 23 ...'I'm not sure that I have any enemies but a critic once said ...

27 - How would your subordinates describe you?

28 - How would your superiors describe you?

29 - How would your husband/wife/partner describe you?

30 - How do you think your referees have described you? 

Past work experience:- 

The next group of question concern your past work experience. You should be able to answer the following questions about your present job or your previous job if you do not currently have a job.

31 - How would you sum up the contribution you have made to your present employer?

32 - What are your major responsibilities in your present job?

33 - Tell me something about the culture of your present organisation?

34 - What would you most like to change about your present organisation?

35 - What is your greatest achievement to date?

36 - What is your greatest failure to date?

37 - What is the biggest problem you have had to overcome?

38 - What is the most interesting assignment you have ever had?

39 - What kind of decisions are most difficult for you?

40 - What kind of decisions do you find easiest?

41 - What have you learned from your current job?

42 - What do you like most about your present job?

43 - What do you like least about your present job?

44 - How well have you fitted into a team?

45 - What sort of contribution do you make to a team?

46 - How well do you get along with colleagues?

47 - Describe a colleague.

48 - Describe your boss.

49 - What are the qualities you Like to see in people to whom you report?

50 - What sort of people do you find most difficult to work with?

51 - How do you go about trying to work with difficult types of people?

52 - What kind of people do you find it easiest to work with?

53 - Who was the last person to make you very annoyed?

54 - What was the last thing that annoyed you at work?

55 - Do you enjoy being in charge of people?

56 - What do you expect from subordinates?

57 - How do you manage organisational politics?

58 - Do you see yourself as a change agent? Give me an example.

59 - Are you an innovative person? Give me an example.

60 - Are you an analytical person? Give me an example.

61 - How do you typically react when an important deadline approaches?

62 - Give me an example of a situation where you had to be extra persuasive.

63 - Give me an example of a situation where there was no procedure and you had to make a decision.

64 - Give me an example of a situation where you had to be ruthless.

65 - Explain to me how you have kept costs down in your area of responsibility.

66 - Give me an example of a situation where you spotted a new opportunity.

67 - Give me an example where you had to change things radically.

68 - Describe a situation where your work was criticised. How did you react? 

Career and your ambitions:-

Some employers may be interested in your career and your ambitions. They are likely to ask some of the following questions:

69 - What do you see as the next step in your career?

70 - Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

71 - What are your long term career aims?

72 - How ambitious are you? 

Questions to ask yourself:-

73 - If you had a private income and did not need to work, how would you spend your time?

74 - Looking back on your career, would you have done anything differently?

75 - Looking back, would you have chosen a different career?

76 - Looking back at your life, what one thing would you want to change?

77 - What would you not want to do? Why?

78 - What are your main sources of motivation? Why?

79 - How important is money to you?

80 - How important is recognition to you?

81 - How important is status to you?

82 - What gave you most satisfaction in your last job? 

Outside work:-

83 - What are your major outside interests?

84 - Are you a member of an outside group or organisation?

85 - What newspapers do you read? Why?

86 - Name a person you particularly admire. Why? 

Self improvement:-

Some organisations like to see evidence that you are interested in self improvement. They may ask some of the following questions:

87 - What languages do you speak?

88 - What countries have you visited?

89 - Are you computer literate?

90 - Have you initiated any personal development in the last two years?

91 - What training have you undertaken in the last two years?

92 - What is your greatest training need?

93 - What are the most significant professional or commercial changes that are likely to affect your work in the next five years?

94 - How do you keep up to date with technical developments in your field? 

Challenging questions: 

95 - What is the question you would least like us to ask?

96 - If you are so good why are you looking for a job?

97 - Why aren't you earning more at your age?

98 - Is your current salary an appropriate reflection of your potential? if not why not?

99 - Have you considered self employment? If so what makes you think you can do it. If not why not? 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Live Life!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Success in Working Together!

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” [George Bernard Shaw]

Sunday, 5 December 2010


The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919, Twenty-sixth President of the USA