Lessons of the Lowly Press Release

Consider the lowly press release. Time tested certainly, but sexy? Few would say so. But it is still around today, used everywhere—in newspapers, on the Web, on social media, printed for viewing at live events. The reason is simple. It works. It is an official announcement or record of an event or achievement. It is easy to produce. It is extremely cost effective. And it can be used just about anywhere, in any format. It can be sent to local media; disseminated in a custom E-mail blast; included in press kits; and posted on your website, Facebook, and Linked-In Page.

Press release picBut that is not all. For the smallest investment, you get valuable, additional benefits, that will help your marketing efforts in the future—you are presented with the opportunity to not only announce your newest achievement, hiring, or contract, but you get the chance to refocus your marketing message—what your company is all about. And this can result in a fresh, new description of your company, with many potential, profitable implications.

Let me explain. Unlike most copywriting, there is relatively little art in creating a press release. They are usually written from a well-recognized template. It includes the standard newsworthy headline, subhead, and dateline. Next, comes the “Wow” statement to draw in the reader, the “So-What” explanatory paragraph, a supporting quote or two from key principals of the company or those mentioned in the press release (explaining what this news means for consumers and customers in general), followed by the closing statement and information about who to contact for more information.

Finally, we get to the “boilerplate” statement about your company. This may be cut and pasted from text that you’ve used since the turn of the century or taken directly from your recent website pages, brochures, or other marketing materials. But in about 30 words, can you write a powerful characterization of your company and its place in its business sector? Is it simply “the premier manufacturer of widgets in the Northeast” or is it the company “whose widgets were ranked highest quality in a survey of 5,000 consumers by JD Snortbum and Company?” Do you want to describe the organization as the “oldest manufacturer of widgets in the state” or as “a company with a rich 125-year history of providing quality widgets and unparalleled service in the metropolitan region.” Whatever you decide, this simple, brief statement should be reflected in all of your marketing materials and communications. It may prompt you to question what are the 2 or 3 most important differentiators of your company or decide that these differentiators have changed over time.

In any case, writing a press release allows you to review the most compelling description possible of your organization. It gives you the opportunity to promote something new about your business and revisit why it is special. Some things are both inexpensive and priceless.

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