5 Elements of an Effective Press Release

press_release_writing“The shorter and the plainer the better.” –Beatrix Potter

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Shakespeare

Minute by minute, a dizzying amount of data is created in this content-driven world. (Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic from DOMO )

And as PR folks, we’re under the gun to get the message across – clearly, thoroughly and correctly on behalf of our clients.

More often than not, this takes the form of a press release, the worth and future of which has become an annual debate. (But that’s another blog post entirely… For our purposes here, rather than dispute its inherent value, let’s focus on a few ways in which we can improve upon the content of future announcements we’re putting out into the ether).

I found a great article by Bill Stoller, The Ten Commandments of a Press Release, where he outlines his top ten “shalts” and “shalt nots.” In it, he argues that “when the recipient of a release focuses only on its content — and not on its creation — the writer has succeeded.”

Stoller’s point is an important one: Good writing allows the reader to focus on the message versus the medium. Although we’re taught to write one way growing up, I tend to think that the most effective press releases today follow these five guidelines:

  1. K.I.S.S. “Simple” works, but “short” is even more impactful in our content-crazed world.
  2. Sell the story, not your company. Yes, we know who is paying for the release, but that doesn’t mean anything if no one wants to cover it, correct? Take the time to create context.
  3. Remember your audience. Resist the urge to use marketing speak or pepper in industry acronyms. B2B or B2C, it’s doesn’t matter; keep it straightforward and interesting.
  4. Do the legwork. Again, know your targets and how they like to receive content. Social media savvy? Try tweeting a link to the release. Very visual? Scrap the words and make an infographic with your information. Make it easy for journalists to do their job, and they may just reciprocate.
  5. See number one. We’re following our own rules here.

Do you have any other principles for better press releases that you’d like to see added to the list? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 05/31/10

Will people stop buying Coca Cola? Maybe not, but Eric Bovim writes in PRWeek that Food and Beverage Companies Face a PR Challenge – facing a plethora of new programs focused on healthier food options. From First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Campaign,” to a powerful new coalition of big brands and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, big food companies need to convince the press to focus on the positive aspects of what they provide… a job easier said than done.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing wrote a provocative article for Ragan on “Why Social Media Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” He says too many people are focused on adopting or keeping up with the latest and greatest social media tools, when they should rather be focused on customer engagement. A smart piece that takes you through the hype to the heart of the matter when it comes to social media for business and marketing.

Speaking of John, he’s a great marketer who recently wrote a book called The Referral Engine – and it’s featured on Inc. Magazine’s new Business Book Bestseller List. If you’re looking for some great summer reading, check it out.

I’m a fan of Foursquare and am happy to see its growth, as more and  more marketers help brands use it in their campaigns. One of the latest collaborations is a partnership with Cynthia Rowley to launch Cynthia Rowley Bridesmaids at a wedding-centric event. One of PerkettPR’s partner firms, Fashionably Digital, was commissioned to develop and implement the campaign. Women’s Wear Daily Writes in this week’s Social Studies, this is “the first time a manufacturer, a designer and a retailer collaborated on this kind of initiative.”

I’m also in love with my iPad but I’m not quite as creative as other users – which I learned when glamour tech gal Shira Lazar recently pointed me to a CBS piece she wrote on “5 Totally Insane Ways to Use Your iPad.” I don’t plan to perform surgery with mine anytime soon, although I did enjoy learning that the iPad is so cool, it can indeed “Shred.”

 

 

Persuasive Picks for the Week of 08/24/09

Twenty-One Top Twitter Tips… from Forbes

Still not convinced of the business value of Twitter? Forbes understands your concern and did some research for you – canvassing scads of businesses and pricey social-networking gurus looking for honest answers on how to make money – if you can make money – with the microblogging service. Their answers may surprise you, as they share 21 ways Twitter can have an impact, and not just as a marginal marketing tool.

College Optional?

Larry Cheng, Partner at Fidelity Ventures wonders aloud if college is necessary for a true entrepreneur. “Sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher every day for four years in so many ways is exactly the opposite of what someone with an entrepreneurial DNA should want to do.” In this post, he outlines what he sees as a “blueprint to success” for those with no degree. First lesson? Take $1.00 and turn into $1.10 by this time next week.

Use Teamwork to Tackle Problems

Of course you know that teamwork is important, but in this Marketing Profs Daily Fix post, Paul Williams outlines in detail – complete with instruction template – how to create a GroupChallenge. Beyond basic brainstorming, a GroupChallenge is a simple and inexpensive way to―on an ongoing basis―inspire creativity and teamwork to generate ideas and solve problems.

Group Challenge Setup - Image from Marketing Profs Daily Fix

Group Challenge Setup - Image from Marketing Profs Daily Fix

Why Waltham Doesn’t Matter

For those on the East Coast, this piece by Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe has created quite a stir. Will it be the new turf war? Kirsner claims, “The new core of Boston venture capital has moved in closer to the city, toward Copley Square and Harvard Square,” and that “as a group, they [Waltham venture capitalists] represent the worst of the old-school business culture.” He has some great viewpoints on risk taking, the innovation economy and what he terms “the vibrant new culture of entrepreneurship.”

Should PR Professionals Use Social Media to Build Their Personal Brand?

PR Week takes a look at two opinions on one of the hottest debated topics in our office. How do you balance personal brand with your corporate brand? Should you? Two PR professionals weigh in.

PRWeek Echoes our Earlier Sentiments on Niche Social Networks

PRWeek just posted a story about our client Sermo’s deal with Pfizer, and how it might impact the model for the social network business. Author Marc Longpre also has some interesting thoughts around the revenue models – echoing our blog post earlier this week about niche social networking sites and their strong potential for bringing new value to the online community phenomenon.