The past decade has seen a clear trend toward attenuated press releases. Gone are the days of public relations people writing long screeds, with endless quotes and reams of data. This is partially an outgrowth of the use of email and social media as the preferred forms of communication between the public relations community and the press (which, for our purposes, includes bloggers and analysts). The explosion of technologies and information, in general, has, in turn, led to journalists’ exploding email boxes.
Thus, the KISS (keep it simple, sweetie) principle reigns supreme.
To do this, although it sounds obvious, the first and most important factor is to make sure your release is newsworthy. Remember, it has to be important to the press, not just to you.
You have to be clear about your key messages so you can get to the point in the header, subheader, and first paragraph. These should also include your keywords and SEO-oriented material. The reader should immediately know what the release is about and why it should be read and not discarded. Your messaging document should provide some guidelines. Don’t have a messaging document? You’re flying blind. Draft one or have someone do it for you, get it approved.
Make sure it’s compelling. Have mercy on your readers; they gets dozens of releases every day. Dry writing is an invitation to deletion.
Tease your readers a bit, draw them in, make them want to learn more. Let them be hungry to interview you or at least get more details.
Don’t bore them to death by providing exhaustive, granular details or specs unless you’re specifically sending it to a select few that will appreciate this. If your goal is to drive sales for your SAAS solution, your release needs to appeal to the decision makers, not the tech guy, or at least give the tech guy what he needs to loosen the pursestrings. Be clear about your advantages and ROI.
Quotes need to sound like they come from an actual humanoid. Dry recitation from one of your brochures with quotation marks does not work.
Streamline the approval process. Fifty people, including legal, shouldn’t have to sign off on a release. Too many eyes – and opinions – inflate the draft, which will then require repeated editing, often leaving a trail of bruised egos in its wake. Oddly, this is often more of a problem with early stage companies, where everyone is head of his/her own one-person department and wants to be heard.
To sum up, have mercy on your readers, especially the journalists and bloggers who are your initial audience. They’re the gatekeepers to your ultimate targets, the people you can convert to qualified sales leads.
- Make sure it’s newsworthy
- Use your messaging documents
- Get to the point
- Compelling writing gets read
- Tease, don’t bore or be exhibitionistic
- Human-sounding quotes, only
- Streamline the approval process