This Press Release Did Everything Right

By | February 13, 2014

Many organizations are rediscovering the role of public relations in content marketing. As an editor, I get over a dozen press releases every day. The four most common failures I see are:

  • Not understanding the difference between “news” and “promotion.”
  • Taking too long to get to the point.
  • Failing to help me see/intuit/perceive a potential story.
  • Giving me no single, well-written, concise paragraph I can run with.

A press release that came in today from Graham Chapman at 919Marketing did everything right. Here’s why Graham’s release is better than most:

1. The subject line compels. Graham is writing for a new-mover-welcome service, Our Town America. His subject line is “Local Expert Alleviates Moving Stress with 14 for 14 Tips.” Even if the recipients (editors) aren’t relocating personally, most certainly have moved at some point. A subject line that any editor can relate to, professionally or personally, works best.

2. Graham introduces the release with a cover note that gets my brain churning. “Hi Nancy, According to the Employee Relocation Council, moving is the third most stressful event in a person’s life, trumped only by death and divorce.” Can I relate? You bet.

3. The middle of the release grabs me visually. Rather than droning on, the layout pulls my eyes to a short bulleted list that suggests several “heart-warming” gestures for various dates in February — all related to the “new mover” experience.

  • Wave Your Hand at Your Neighbor Day
  • Send a Card to a Friend Day
  • Make a Friend Day
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day

4. I’m rewarded with a Eureka! moment. I get it: 14 for 14 … this “moving” story concept is centered on Valentine’s Day, February 14. I’m charmed.

5. The pay-off gets delivered. Old Town America’s “14 for 14” Moving Tips are pretty good (e.g., “Divvy up duties with your family, tackle the packing one room at a time, and give yourself a few weeks to get everything in boxes.”) Yep. Been there, done that.

6. If I’m interested, I know what to do. Graham has given me a bunch of story ideas and he promises “plenty of timely talkers and visuals” to help me flesh out a story. In short, this release did my first-round thinking for me. As an editor, I can’t ask for more.

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4 thoughts on “This Press Release Did Everything Right

  1. Katherine

    Great breakdown of a press release. These can be very valuable tools, especially when there’s a Eureka moment to make them memorable.

    Do you agree that headlines are the single most important part of a release? That’s what I’ve heard everywhere, and I started using a headline analysis tool to improve this aspect of my releases.

  2. Nancy Scott

    Hi, Katherine.. No doubt an effective headline is on the short list of press release “musts,” so your headline analysis tool has probably been a good investment for you. Meanwhile, I’d suggest that editors are a little different from folks to whom you might be selling something. For example, editors typically are looking for content useful to someone *else* (their readers), so they may be slightly more open to a good idea, even if it’s not beautifully written. In short, most editors figure they can rewrite something if the content is good. For that reason, I’d suggest that the thought or the “angle” of the press release can also be influential in garnering placement (see the #2 example in the article above). In short, if you’ve written a captivating headline, thrown an idea at your editor, and fleshed it all out with some facts you’re in great shape.

  3. Katherine

    Nancy, I think you’re spot on about the angle—nice tip! My headline tool is free, I thought you’d want to know 😉

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