Why translating press releases is a smart move

Local market versions boost propagation, engagement and credibility.

Press releases are still used and useful to control the dissemination of company news and announcements as well as to build relationships with media professionals and the general public. They are a chance to connect with your audience when and how you want to, on a regular basis. Not to mention a legal requirement for public companies. In sum, they are still a cost-effective tool to earn media coverage worldwide, both online and offline.

As a language service consultant and marketing professional, translation of press releases for the Italian market is something I deal with quite often.

And it is no easy stuff: it involves a thorough knowledge of the source and target market (giving for granted that of the languages themselves), good (marketing) writing skills, familiarity with research and proofediting, knowledge of brand identity and tone of voice localization.

Today, press releases are not only meant for news coverage, they are marketing pieces in their own right. So their local versions call for marketing translation at its best and maximum precision, as press releases are permanent parts of a company’s public record.

So what are their main characteristics especially relevant to translation?

A quintessence of brand identity

The language of press releases often reflects the spirit and brand identity of the company or entity issuing them. They are written following PR, brand and/or tone of voice guidelines and the same brand language should be reflected in any local version, adapting it to the market culture and habits, if needs be.

Press releases should be informative, but they should be catchy as well; they must be clear but not anonymous in style. So a flair for marketing and promotional writing is definitely a plus.

A headline both informative and catchy

As with any good piece of marketing contents, the headline should communicate the subject of the PR while being captivating as well, in case of less formal or legal requirements. It goes without saying, in the translation, any idioms or language conventions, as well as the style of approach, should be perfectly adapted to the local market, with a clever balance between keeping the tone of voice of the original and making it suitable to the local habits and culture.

Short and sweet

Ideally, press releases shouldn’t be too long (usually 4 to 5 paragraphs), so each sentence should be carefully crafted to capture the essence of the brand as well as the key concepts to communicate. It is essential to keep the same brevity and brand voice in any localized version, although in some languages it can be a tricky task (for instance when translating from English to a Romance language such as Italian).

100% accuracy

Press releases are permanent digital records of the issuer, so it is key they are as accurate as possible and thoroughly checked before releasing, as they will be quoted, often word for word, on all media. While reflecting the contents of the original, the translator should however check facts and links, highlighting any inconsistencies or mistakes. The eye for detail and research skills of proofediting come in very handy here.

Also, the boilerplate should reflect the official wording of the issuing entity: for the translation, if this does not exist in the local market language yet, it needs to be carefully crafted and agreed upon, as it will be included in all the following press releases as well.

100% consistency

It is essential that the local version should relay exactly the same information as the original press release, neither exaggerating nor diminishing its contents: this entails a punctual translation, fact checking and a complete master of both the source and the target language (which is no small accomplishment).

Press releases should improve the issuer’s credibility and authority as a leading industry expert, so this point is obviously key across all markets.

Facilitating the translator’s task

To facilitate all of the above and promote market consistency and brand identity, translators working on the local market versions should ideally be provided with some or all of the following documents and guidelines:

– brand guidelines (original and local version, if any)

– tone of voice guidelines (original and/or local version)

– specific guidelines for PR contents

– approved terminology guidelines (yes/no words, approved term translations, use and meaning of acronyms etc.)

– previous press releases (original and local version)

– any background information on the issuing company

– any background information on the press release subject

– any link deemed useful (company website, published news, interviews etc.)

As with other marketing contents, translating press releases for local markets is an effective tool to boost the knowledge and awareness of a brand, company, service or product.

But it is not a job for everyone.


About the author
laura-cattaneoI am an Italian specialist in translation and proofediting, working in the marketing, creative and legal fields. I put my many years of experience to the advantage of my clients by creating texts resonating with the Italian-speaking audience and making brands locally relevant. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter or visit my website.