How to best write and finalize a stunning press release has challenged a plethora of marketing and media relations folks since the early days of formal public relations. Setting aside things like the Common Sense pamphlet which stirred up anti-British sentiment before the Boston Tea Party, modern PR actually started in the early 1900s. This is when companies first hired PR practitioners to properly publicize their products and services.
[Photo credit: Musicians and singers pose at the opening of the Operatic Liberty Loan Offices at Aeolian Hall, New York City on June 5, 1917. Edward Bernays, the mustached man on the left originated the first press release. Photo is from Stefan Scheufelen’s blog. ]
Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays is often called the father of PR.
According to PR textbooks, he said that audiences had to be thoughtfully understood and persuaded to see things from the “client’s perspective.” Well yes, and also, no.
What’s happened in the technology business at both startups and big brand names is the client’s perspective has gone too far. If the media’s perspective was more deeply considered results would improve in a profound fashion.
In tech, the biggest problem seems to be product managers who push the team to publish me too technology updates. A company mentions it has cloud computing solutions but then years later announces its first cloud-based product. This is the type of thing that turns off reporters. Someone who hears this confusing message will roll their eyes and ignore your email pitch. Yes, mention the link to cloud. But maybe the focus should be a problem it can solve, cool analogy, link to a more mainstream trend or a neat beta case study.
Reporters are humans like anyone else. If PR practitioners can make their press releases appeal more to the average person by talking about something truly interesting and timely while linking the theme to hard company news, like a significant new product update or acquisition, there would be way better results.
Here are three other tips to consider:
1) Keep it brief. There are two advantages: there is a higher chance that a writer who receives hundreds press releases a day will actually read it. The second advantage is cost. If you use a service like Cision PR Newswire you can cut the cost in half with a shortened release. eReleases is another cost-effective option by the way.
2) Make your headline direct. Tell the news plainly. If you have to dress it up too much, hide the real news, or it’s taking too long to edit properly maybe the message you want to tell would make a better blog story or letter to customers and prospects.
3) Know your ultimate goal. It’s probably not to have the press release reproduced on 100 random websites, although that is a nice SEO boost. Marketing loves exposure even if it’s not the perfect feature story saying your product is the best and your company’s future looks bright. Your goal is to convince a reporter to call you with questions for a story.
Good luck with your next press release and remember, journalists are humans. They like thought-provoking words and storytelling just like anyone else.
Michelle McIntyre, founder of Michelle McIntyre Communications LLC is an award-winning Silicon Valley PR diva and IBM vet known for making B2B tech solutions sexy. @FromMichelle on Twitter