PR releases are so boring. I find them to be as depressing as financial statements. To me, the term “PR release” brings to mind someone trumpeting news about the new, fabulous and glorious features of a new product. It’s great that new things are shiner and prettier than the previous models. But, I would probably thank you more by being sneaky in your advertising.
So, that is why I want to share with you a new way of framing PR releases by calling it a PR story. The (ever so trustworthy) Oxford dictionary defines a ‘story’ as “an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.” On the other hand, ‘release’ as a verb is stated as “to allow (information) be generally available.” Do you want your PR to become ‘generally available’, or be ‘entertaining’? A quick Google search has indicated that I am not the first person to come up with this tactic, but it sure is a fresh take on PR writing, no?
More about the ‘story’ – entertainment is key to engagement. There’s a reason why accounting lectures are empty. In terms of content, always maintain an optimistic tone, but do not go overboard. I always get asked how I can sound so enthusiastic. The key is to get fired up about it yourself. If you’ve just had a long, hard and stressful day, sitting down for an extra couple of hours to write a press release (pardon me, press story) will not make you any happier. Nor will it do any justice to your writing.
Be strategic in your content – SEO concerns should come second to content. Here is where some marketing psychology comes in. People only really read what they want to read. Therefore, make sure you include relevant key words, but statistics only when needed. Ask yourself, what can YOU offer to your customer that's noteworthy? For example, if you want to market your company’s mission or values, a good way to convey this is how you came to that particular idea or value. What happened that made you want to develop that product? Then, the next step is to consider being in your consumer’s shoes - why should I listen to you? I really love personal stories, because its so much more genuine, original, and more easy to emphasise with.
Thirdly, Please do not waffle. Sometimes, the best types of writing are short and succinct.
Too much repetition of a certain word turns people off. For example, consider this quote. A new website offers the “best deals…best offers…best page…best product.” The first two ‘bests’ are ok – but with the third ‘best’, it starts to get stale. Replace it with something wackier like ‘awesome’ or ‘fantastic’. Remember, we live in the era of Microsoft Word synonyms. What you do need to emphasise is your key message, or what actions you want your reader to undertake. You may want them to like a particular Facebook page, try out a new feature of your site, or to download an app. A good way to do this is to open your PR material with an action item – eg. Download our new app!
Multimedia contents such as images are a bonus – but if it takes too much time and money, don’t worry about it. If you do consider walking down this avenue, be creative – do you want to make a video or an infographic? Unconventional PR stints that have recently come into popularity include game apps. User engagement – tick. Customer experience – tick. Company reputation? Depends.
Be sure that your company is identifiable, and what you get out is worth your time and resources.
What I have just written is extremely idealistic. I absolutely understand that there is no one winning strategy for PR, and what I have outlined above may not work with every company. Appropriateness is another crucial component of PR writing that one must take into consideration. B2B and B2C marketing styles are different, too. Ultimately, PR writing is a skill much like essay and journalistic writing that requires practice and drafts to make it right.
Power on with those verbs, people!