How Do I Create Press Materials That Aren’t Boring?
Q: I feel like most press releases are dull and boring. What tips do you have for crafting a press release that really stands out?
— Donna, Pittsburgh
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council. Founded by Scott Gerber, the YEC is a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. The organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.
A: Upgrade Your Press Release
Now that everyone has a mobile device, new tools exist for you to upgrade your boring press release into an interactive and exciting one. The release itself should still be in standard format and convey a clear message, but use the footer to include QR codes that link to videos or images on your website that help illustrate your message.
A: Network Instead
I tend to stray away from using press releases at all. Sure, they CAN be handy, and CAN get your message in front of the right eyes, but I find that having a strong network that includes members of the press allows for much better (and more predictable) exposure. Just make sure the relationship isn't one-way, and you'll be able to continue helping each other out for a long time.
A: Tell a Story
Use your press release to tell a story that the reporter can dig into and elaborate on. A great press release uses all the tenets of effective marketing — curiosity, authority, social proof. Your press release is a marketing piece for a reporter; it should be written with the goal of getting coverage, not just sharing a piece of information.
A: Would You Read It?
Whenever I write anything, from a blog post to a press release, I use a simple test to see if it's good enough. Here it is: Would I find this interesting if I was asked to read it? If you run this test on your own press releases, that should be a good starting ground to create one that really stands out.
A: Don't Write a Press Release — Write a Story
Press releases aren't particularly crucial these days — major newspapers, shows and websites routinely pick up information from company blogs and newsletters. So write your full story, even if you can't shoehorn it into a press release. Let a short version go out if you need a press release, but write long versions, too, even if the only place they’re going is your own website.
A: Choose an Angle
Decide whom you want running your story before you begin writing. If you know whom you want to interest, you can tailor every aspect of the release to your target. Use buzzwords she will be searching for, provide statistics that will support the story you are telling, and make the news visceral by using examples and anecdotes. The reporter then has everything she needs to run with it!
Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia (http://www.metalmafia.com/)
A: Create a ‘Press’ Video
Press releases are boring, and most people don't read them. Take what you would write in a release and tell the story to the camera. If you have other videos to use, include them for extra content. There is nothing like seeing the person behind the company telling a story — it’s far more interesting than reading it in a boring press release.
A: Use a Social Media Press Release
Traditional press releases are dead. We live in a world driven by social media, so it's no surprise that press releases have to embrace the social Web too. Shift Communications has a social media press release template to make it easy: http://www.shiftcomm.com/downloads/smprtemplate.pdf. If you have a small budget, PitchEngine offers a service to build a more interactive press release.
A: Optimize it for Search
If you want your press release to stand out and be visible for a longer period than your launch, then you need to optimize it. Choose a few keywords and use them often within the release. This way, your investment will pay off over a longer period of time and drive more traffic.