Long Live the Press Release

Financial communication: how clients can help translators convey the right message

Most people think that financial translation mainly regards annual reports and financial statements. As a financial translator specialising in investments and asset management, accounting is a marginal part of my translation business. More often, I translate market commentaries and press releases communicating financial data and company’s results.

A press release – or media release, or video release – is a written or recorded communication directed at the news media for the purpose of announcing something newsworthy. It is an important tool of corporate communication.

Press releases often comprise financial terminology and concepts. They:

  1. Describe the company, its management, mission and objectives (performance and financial results, annual reports, quarterly results);
  2. Inform on the history of the company or product, or on a special event or achievement involving the company (financial results, IPOs, new CEO, launch of a new product, investments, awards, announce a merger, a partnership or joint venture);
  3. Manage reputation and crises.

A ring of people marching with bullhorns

Key Features of a Press Release

The tone of media releases may vary according to their intended audience and market, however they have a common structure:

  • The headline is used to grab the attention of journalists. A captivating headline should summarise the news in less than 10 words, to arouse interest in the reader. When translating, you have to find an attractive solution and remind that finance uses a special language full of metaphors and other rhetorical devices.
  • The dateline contains the release date and usually the originating city of the press release. If the date listed is after the date that the information was actually sent to the media, then the sender is requesting a news embargo (e.g. “for publication on”).
  • The introduction is the first paragraph and usually provides basic answers to the questions of who, what, when, where and why.
  • The body contains further explanation, statistics, background, or other details relevant to the news. Typically, notices are shown by order of importance.
  • The boilerplate is a short “About” section, providing independent background on the company.
  • As for the close, there are various conventions to end the press release, such as the text “ENDS”.
  • Contact information – name, phone number, email address, mailing address, or other contact information for the PR or other media relations contact person – must be clear and correct, as these are key information for the company. A disclaimer may follow.

"And that in a nutshell is my marketing plan."

How Clients can Help Translators

Since press or media releases are critical for the company’s business development and reputation, translators welcome instructions and information from the client/company on the message to be conveyed.

Clients may help translators:

  • providing more background information on the product or on the crisis event;
  • explaining the message they want to convey in the translation request: companies usually avoid too technical terms and use plain language in order to captivate attention. They may announce troublesome news affecting their reputation;
  • providing more context: target readers, publishing medium or platform, company’s website, previous releases, other references, etc.;
  • specifying any “forbidden” words or concepts, as well as preferences: a company may prefer not to associate specific words to its brand. Moreover, press releases often report quotes from a CEO or company’s representative where words are chosen wisely and must be translated very carefully;
  • preparing the text in advance: translations of press releases are usually very urgent, unless the source text is prepared in advance for publication in a few days;
  • providing feedback, suggestions, or the published version on the press release revised by the local team.

Information on the company’s goal, brand and market is important for the translator to convey the right message and be careful on the choice of words in the target language.


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