Translating a press release is like figure skating on thin Ice

Fifteen years ago, more than half our translation workload consisted of press releases. We were supplying PR translations one after another to reputable communications agencies, such as Hill + Knowlton Strategies.

Being a translation agency that specialises in marketing texts and creative copy, we can’t help but notice the skyrocketing demand for website translations. A relevant and appealing website is absolutely indispensable to any organisation, but press releases continue to be an essential form of communication for many companies. Trade press or broader media attention is a must for any business that wants to share its news with the world. 

Considerations and priorities when translating press releases 

While we don’t deny that machine translations are getting smarter and better, the translation of PR is something best left to humans. When the right words and emotions make all the difference, machines just don’t make the cut. We consider these five points to be crucial to a good PR translation: 

  1. The information must be conveyed correctly in the target language. Freestyling is not an option here. 
  2. Press releases are often on a tight schedule, especially in the event of crisis communication.
  3. The content of press releases must be treated as confidential. Strict discretion is usually demanded until the news is made public. 
  4. The structure of the press release must be respected in the target language.
  5. The translator must be creative, eager to learn and have a broad general knowledge. 

1. Choosing the right words carefully 

Translating a press release is so much more than a word for word transfer from source to target text. The contents should make a soft landing in the target language, while taking into account all that language’s nuances, cultural sensitivities, and style preferences. At the same time, the translation should be tailored to the target audience. 

2. Tight deadlines 

We’re sure we haven’t seen the end of working through the weekend to translate an urgent and confidential press release into three target languages (often into our usual French, English, German and Dutch, but just as readily into Italian, Spanish, Russian, Swedish and Chinese – to name but a few). Right until the last moment, the client continues to tweak the text, while we are entrusted with the task of correctly and fluently translating all the (background) information and last titbits within a very tight publication deadline. 

3. Confidentiality: a signed NDA, if you please 

Many people can be impacted by the sensitive contents of some press releases, such as bankruptcies, acquisitions, or redundancies. Our translators and employees are bound by a confidentiality agreement, so you can be sure that your input is in safe hands. 

4. Structure of a press release 

First, the headline containing the unmistakable description ‘Press Release’ clarifies that this is not a commercial message. Next comes the title or subject, the catchier the better. This is followed by the contents, in which the five Ws are addressed: who, what, where, why and when. The conclusion includes the contact details (name, function, company name, telephone number, email address) of the person(s) responsible for answering questions regarding the press release. It is important to translate these details with special attention to localisation. You wouldn’t write a Belgian phone number the same way in American English as you would in Russian. The end of a press release usually contains a boilerplate, with the most important details about the company. In just a few lines, it reveals the company’s mission, where it is active, the number of employees and other essential information. If a translation agency works for you regularly, it saves the boilerplate in a translation memory to make sure it stays the same. Translated only once, paid for only once! 

5. Creative and well-informed 

One of the most enjoyable aspects of translating press releases is that they often contain the latest news on new products, services, developments, etc. This means our translators need to get creative, tackling questions such as “which words fit best here?” or “should I keep the Dutch description or translate it into my mother tongue?” A happy medium might be to leave the Dutch term in italics and translate the description of it into the target language. Good press release translation means getting creative, being inquisitive and staying well-informed. And that’s exactly why we don’t leave the financial press releases to the fashion specialists, or have foodies translate business content. That’s the advantage of working with a translation agency: we have a never-ending network of specialists in every language combination. 

We know this is a webpage and not a press release… but we couldn’t help but add this fitting boilerplate! 

Blue Lines is a translation agency that specialises in marketing content and translation for businesses. We have a network of outstanding copywriters and translators who will take your content to the next level, in every language. Our translations include press releases for communications agencies and organisations such as Walkie Talkie, Outsource Communications, King George, Oona, Vlerick Business School, VIB, imec, Recupel, etc. 

Are you on the lookout for a reliable and appealing translation partner for your press communication? Do you want to take your content to the next level? It’s time to get in touch with us!