I don’t know if you’ve had the same experience, but from the smallest to billion dollar companies, very often no one outside marketing understands what marketing is and what we do. And, PR? Usually it’s confused with advertising. If our job is communication, how come we can’t communicate better what marketing is and what we need to do our job properly?
We spend so much time bemoaning this, yet what do we actually do to change this? Shouldn’t we be promoting marketing itself more? Why can’t we PR ourselves? Or, do we do the same that many companies do – keep marketing firmly to one side making sure it doesn’t interfere too much in the operation of the company, rather than putting it at the core of the company. After all, marketing is the public face of the company. It should be part of every point where the company interacts with the customer, or suppliers, or indeed employees and it should be a key part of product development.
I would be interested to hear about your experiences and how you tackled it.
Writing a press release is not difficult once you get into the right mindset and develop the right style of writing for it. Essentially, it is about communicating a message to a specific set of people (target audience) to create interest in your message and ideally trigger a response (a sales enquiry).
So, what steps should you follow?
- Who is your audience? In terms of the journalist, the media outlet and their end audience. What is this audience interested in?
- Decide on your one key message. Keep it simple and try not to make it ambiguous
- Use the “so what” principle. Is it really newsworthy? Does it merit a press release?
- Make the headline eye catching, but the press release must justify claims. If you say it’s faster, say how much faster
- First paragraph should say everything. Subsequent paragraphs reduce in importance, least important at the end
- Be succinct. You are not writing a literary masterpiece and you could lose your message in it. It should be at least one page with 1.5 line spacing, but very rarely over 2 pages
- Talk about benefits, not features. What does it mean to the target audience, what will it do for them?
- Include a quote from a key executive
- Don’t capitalise everything, it is annoying and facets that should stand out will be lost in the noise
- Avoid negative words wherever possible
- Avoid too much jargon unless your audience is equally technical
- Avoid overused words such as unique
- Be ruthless. Don’t use words that sound good, but that don’t mean anything or are used in the wrong way i.e. consultant speak. Know the meanings of the words you use and know what point you are making
- Review it. Take into account all the points above and decide whether it meets all these criteria
Today, when I was giving a colleague an introduction to PR, it made me take a fresh look at what we always considered to be the basics of PR and they still hold true. Journalists still want good, reliable information in a timely manner. And what’s the first thing you say when you speak to them, whatever medium it is through? Have you got a minute or are you on deadline? And if they contact you, what’s one of the most important things, as well as knowing what they need? What’s your deadline? It’s amazing how many people either aren’t aware of it, or forget it. Even those who know a lot about marketing generally. As I said before, PR isn’t rocket science – it’s mainly common sense.