The press release. It’s an excellent tool to communicate valuable information. The key to writing an effective press release relies on how you answer two questions:
- Is it really newsworthy?
- Why should I care? (from an editor’s perspective)
You could also include a third question assuming the press release passes the first two. That question is “what’s in it for me (WIIFM)?” (from the reader’s perspective).
Press releases - what many manufacturers don't get
I recently had a request to write a press release for a client. The company purchased a new piece of machinery (last spring). Company officials were excited and quite proud of the machine’s capabilities. They wanted to tell current customers and prospects about this wonderful machine hoping to snag more business. This is a sound strategy. Their approach however, left something to be desired.
My company contact provided background information on the equipment. Let’s see how it measures up to the two-question criteria above using a pass/fail approach:
- Purchase of a new piece of equipment—investing in a capital improvement designed to increase productivity certainly might be newsworthy. However, announcing it months after the fact is a little questionable: pass—The targeted media requested by the client were national consumer and business media: fail—I can appreciate the desire to hit a home run and have a well-known national media talking head gush about a company. Let's face it; the amount invested in this equipment is small potatoes compared to a multi-billion dollar merger or investment, so not very newsworthy on the national scene. Furthermore, because this company manufactures products that aren’t household items, this isn’t the right audience. A press release sent to those media outlets would hit the trash faster than you can say, “delete.”
- The equipment offered some interesting capabilities allowing the company to cut cycle times, reduce or eliminate some secondary operations and save the company money because the machine cut the need for added labor. This information is newsworthy . . . to the company’s competitors, but not necessarily to the target audience. It fails the WIIFM test. These features/benefits are newsworthy, just not to the customer or prospect. Their concern is getting the product they want at the time and price agreed on. The fact the machine does all that is irrelevant. It’s part of doing business. Fail
Improving content to reach the reader
However, by getting more information from the customer, I was able to improve the content. Instead of targeting the national media outlets, the press release went to media covering industries the client works in. Additionally, we found agreement on information customers and prospects find valuable. This included positioning the company as a one stop shop—a feature that does separate the company from its competition.
Press releases project a sense that something good is happening at your company. Take advantage of this valuable tool. Be sure to use it wisely.
Paul Schroeder is a content marketing specialist and freelance journalist for business publications in Wisconsin. Learn more about brand journalism and content marketing services Paul offers by contacting him at (715) 370-2222, via LinkedIn or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or just go to http://pschroedcom.com.