The idea for this post came from yesterday’s conversation with one of our clients about how a formal press release is written and distributed. You see, we had to dial down the hype in the release they wanted to send out.
We are working with them on a brand new mobile app launch. A launch of something very cool for the beauty market that we believe will get them the editorial coverage they deserve because the app is useful and can save users a lot of time and money. (see brand value post from yesterday).
The confusion (and from what we can see on the web is that there is a lot of confusion) is how to inspire traditional media (national magazine editors and television producers) vs. online bloggers and writers, “digital media”. As far as we are concerned, any one that has influence (followers) is important. Yes, and all should be contacted individually, personally and respectfully and every PR professional worth a damn knows that.) That’s not the question. The question is what “tools” do we need to send all of these valuable media contacts to help them write the correct and factual review/story?
The purpose of a traditional (read: old school) press release is to provide the media (print/broadcast or web) with the factual information about your company’s timely news. That’s it. Straight talk. Zero spin. This acknowledges everyone’s intelligence. The reporter takes it from there. In an ideal world, if the writer with the followers/readers/viewers thinks your news is worthy, they expand on your news with a story for their audience.
Now a good PR expert will inspire, educate and enlighten all worthy journalists to the benefits of this newsworthy launch from your company, but in the end, the journalist/editor will have his/her final say. Sure, we might provide them with a “package” if they’re short on crew/staff. A few real user interviews, an expert to interview, a location to film, but their responsibility is to take your factual information and turn it into “original content”. Sorry Mr. Adam Singer. This post is a bit off the mark.
Blanketing the media with a press release is truly a big don’t, but giving everyone a factual press release to decide whether it’s newsworthy for their audience is correct.
Now when it comes to writing a press release, here are a few tips. (by the way, we write press releases, if you need one written)
- Make the headline tell the story
- Include the fast facts about your important new launch – who, what, where, when and why? As in why should The New York Times reporter care about said launch?
- Keep it to 400 words and that is with your company boiler
- Avoid exaggerated or hyperbolical expression of praise about your news – at all costs
- Keep it in the third person
- Write as a reporter is trained to write. Use the “inverted pyramid” structure. Top-load the story with facts, with the most important information going into the first paragraph and headline.
- Don’t add a single “!!!!!!!!” to a single sentence in the press release. Not one!
- Don’t include “canned’ statements from the VP of Marketing
- Don’t use any industry jargon. Keep the copy simple and easy for everyone to understand
- Don’t get personal in the press release
- Don’t attach it to a bcc email to your 400 + “targeted” list
- Don’t repeat your statements. Say it once and say it clearly.
Yes, your client/boss/CEO will tell you the first draft of your release is boring, dull and drab. Yes they will want you to “spice it up”. Do not cave in, especially if you are the media contact in the header. Respectful media relationships begin with respectful communication tools. Let those with influence, create their story. As long as they get the facts straight.