Unlocking the Power of Press Releases
Have you ever read (or written) a press release that sounds like this:
“XYZ Company has announced the launch of their newest product, the ABC-55 Sprocket. With a circumference of 2.4 centimeters, it is the smallest high-tensile steel sprocket available in the aerospace industry today…”?
If you’ve been following business news for any length of time, you’ve seen this before. In fact, most businesses and organizations write press releases this way. It seems like there must be a template out there somewhere, because this kind of format, tone and style are widespread.
Let me ask an important question: do press releases have to be like this?
Do they have to be boring? Or so full of technical jargon that no one can understand them?
Is it possible for a press release to be interesting to the man on the street? To the customer?
You’ll be encouraged to know that press releases can actually be used to engage an audience of existing and potential customers or clients. When properly composed, they can even become effective sales tools.
This tactic can be a secret marketing weapon for business people willing to break out of the mold. Many people “in the know” have used these openings to get their story in the media, to great benefit.
During tough economic times such as we are in now, you have to be able to maximize every opportunity to make an impact on prospects and build your brand awareness.
Here are 10 tips (we won’t call them rules–we’re moving outside the box today) to follow that will help you make the most of press releases.
1) Forget what you think you know about public relations in general. That may include some of what a public relations firm has told you.
2) Write with your target audience in mind. Skip the industry-specific terms and corporate talk. Speak the language of the people that you want to read what you’ve written.
3) Address “What’s in it for me?” Do your readers care how you feel about your product? Not really. They do, however, care a great deal about their own needs and desires. Talk about what they want to read about.
4) If you can solve a problem that they have, you’re most of the way there. Define the problem. Aggravate it (don’t let them forget about or minimize it). Then offer a unique solution.
5) Say one thing. Don’t try to cover too much ground. If you lose razor-sharp focus, you’ll lose the attention of your readers.
6) Headlines are still muy importante. This captures readership and prepares them to receive the information you have for them. Invest the time to create one that will grab the attention of the people you want to reach.
7) Find the balance between brevity and detail. You’ll want to get the most compelling and significant content in the quickest way possible, but without cutting it off too soon. It can be a difficult tension to work out, but in order to be most powerful, you’ll have to determine the right mixture.
8) Don’t get “salesy.” This still have to look like a news article/editorial, not an advertisement. Too much selling will deter the editor from publishing it and the reader from reading and trusting it.
9) Avoid hype and don’t overpromise. The tone has to be matter-of-fact. Don’t spoil the credibility factor.
10) Describe a way for interested parties to get more information. Give an address, phone number, email address or website where you can establish two-way communication and/or sell in earnest.
If you’ve never produced a press release before, now’s the perfect time to get started. If press releases are already in your marketing arsenal, we’ve just sharpened its cutting edge.
Put the press to work for you. And never lose another opportunity to influence your audience.