Long live the press release. In spite of what you may have heard, it is not dead. Only ill – a tad under the weather. Ample sunshine, attention and exercise should revive it.
Let the Sunshine In
Look at your press release in the light of day. Blow away the dust mites and assess it honestly. Can you find key contacts, their cellphones (not just the 9-to-5 office number) and email at a glance? Is the main point of the release (new CEO, product release, shareholder event) immediately evident? Is there a link to downloadable photography and/or video?
Rid yourself of unnecessary jargon. Especially in aviation, it’s possible to have a release with little more than acronyms. Avoid clichés. We have a rule at Greteman Group: no quotes that say, “I am excited to announce…” Excited is not a bad word, but a worn-out one. Dig deeper for something fresh. We have another rule, too. No exclamation marks unless you’re saying, “Fire!” Exclamation marks signal a lazy writer, resorting to punctuation for energy because the writing lacks any.
Avoid random capitalization. Again, this is rampant in aviation, so if you don’t do it, you’ll immediately set yourself apart from the pack. Unnecessary, excessive capitalization makes your copy needlessly formal and less friendly. Even if your release addresses highly technical topics, keeping things simple helps reporters master the subject matter so they can better explain it to their readers.
Don’t bury your lead. Bring it front and center where it belongs. Establish the stakes – why your news has meaning. Use data as support, not the hook.
If you can illustrate your point with real incidents or anecdotes, all the better. Let reporters know they can contact the people you reference – maybe a customer or a front-line team member – to verify facts and get additional quotes if they want them. Stories draw reporters in and help them relate to your message – and to remember it.
Close strong. Yes, we all know about the inverted pyramid for prioritizing copy points. And it’s true you need to make important points fast and high in your release, but reward reporters who see you through to the end. Make them glad they did. A quote can be a strong way to conclude as it shouldn’t communicate key points that ought to have been made already, but should deliver insights and emotion. Think of it as that spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down.
If you can’t quickly summarize the news you’re trying to convey, perhaps you shouldn’t be issuing a release at all. Perhaps it isn’t news.
Possibly what you really need are several pitch points that you can tailor to specific publications and include with a more personal message delivered by email, phone or in person. Maybe what you really want is to establish a relationship, to let the reporter know about your company, future plans and that you’d be happy to serve as a resource for an industry or trend story.
Why does the lowly press release continue to be so important? Because media matters. In a world drowning in data, we seek reliable information and insights that help make sense of it all.
And I like to think that reporters welcome press releases from proven, ethical sources rather than simply a call with no supporting document with facts, dates, correct name spellings and titles all in writing.
Nothing other than direct word-of-mouth testimony from a trusted source trumps an unbiased, credible news story. The media will do its job with or without your help, but if you can deliver timely, accurate information in a well-crafted press release, everyone wins. The reporter. The reader. Your company. Even our industry. Because there are so many stories that go untold.
Could it be time for you to issue a robust, must-read release?