A News Release for Media …. And Enthusiasts

via @ PRNewswire

I grew up driving an old Ford Mustang (a ’64 ½ convertible, to be exact) and simply put, I love those cars.  So any press release from Ford about the pony car is bound to get my attention.  I’m an enthusiast.

As I was scanning the wires this week, I spotted the announcement from Ford about the new designs and other innovations debuting for the Mustang, just in time for the 50th anniversary of this iconic car.

Be still my heart, they’ve  brought back the fastback. 

It. Is. So. Pretty.

While the pictures in the press release made me swoon a bit (Dear Santa, I want a pony.  I mean, pony car …) the treatment of the press release by Ford got the attention of my practical side.  It is beautifully constructed to convey key messages to journalists, and to feed the interest of bloggers and enthusiasts. Tweet

Let’s break it down.

The headline, “Ford Mustang Marks 50 Years with All-New Sleek Design, Innovative Technologies and World-Class Performance,” doesn’t beat around the bush – it tells what’s to follow, and stands alone.  No subhead required.

The lead comprises three bullet points, and is built for busy journalist.  It cuts straight to the key messages in the press release, and the bullet point treatment surfaces those messages easily for readers who are quickly scanning the copy.

And then there are the pictures, which had a galvanizing effect on this enthusiast.  These are not staid PR shots.  The stills treat the Mustang like a piece of sculpture, a nice juxtaposition to the picture of the car on the road, in which you can almost hear the growl of the 420-horse V8 (at least I can.)

One message, multiple audiences 

I thought the treatment of the quote and descriptions in the release were particularly deft.  It’s here that the company’s ability to balance delivering information to news media and juicy tidbits to the blogger and enthusiast crowd are on display.

As the reader works their way through the release, the tone changes from stringently factual to more descriptive and relatable.  Journalists working on deadline can easily find the facts and stats they need toward the top of the page.  After that, the company is speaking to the driver.

One question I get a lot is whether it’s a good idea to create multiple versions of a press release for different audiences.  With very, very few exceptions, my answer has always been “No.”   I advise the approach Ford has taken – write the press release with your primary goal in mind, and then cater to any secondary goals later in the message.  This release is about the media first, and the driver second, and it delivers the goods for both.

Distribution is still important to reach media, and your publics

A representative from another US car company told me about some unexpected results they garnered from a couple multimedia press releases they issued via PR Newswire at the beginning of this year, to support two important new models at the North American International Auto Show.   The company had booked dozens of interviews via a satellite media tour, but they also packaged MP4 video of the new models in the multimedia press releases.  Numerous media outlets picked up and ran that video, delivering extra value for the company.

“With the MNR we gained exposure to a rather large audience, and it was a separate audience,” our contact (who asked to remain anonymous) told us.  “Our message reached new people from viral pick up and viewer sharing. We were looking for additional eyeballs, and that’s where we succeeded with the MNR.”

Even as organizations build media relationships and cultivate social followings, distribution of messages beyond those groups is necessary, in order to continually build new audiences and earn media (and attention) for brand messages.

Press releases – and newswire services – are still important tools in the communicator’s arsenal.  That said, they both work better when the organizations issuing press releases make a point of developing the sort of interesting, visual and interactive content audiences appreciate today.  I’ve written an ebook detailing new approaches to press releases that are generating results, and it includes real-life examples and tips.  Here’s the link: New School PR Tactics  .

So kudos to the Ford team this week, on creating a message that resonates with professional media as well as Mustang fans.  (And thanks for bringing back the fastback!)


9 Tips for Writing Great Pitch Emails to Journalists

Lately, I’ve been receiving pitches directly from business owners and from people who may not totally understand that there’s an art to writing a good pitch email and that there are several things that should be considered way before you ever press send

Things like is this the right reporter for my story?, is what I’m pitching newsworthy?, is this the right platform and audience for my story?, and the list goes on.

Once you’ve taken these things into consideration and have written your pitch, make sure you’re hitting all of the 9 points listed below to ensure that your pitch leads to a story and isn’t deleted on sight.

Here elements are needed to make a pitch email successful and know when you need to go back to the drawing board.

1. A Great Subject Line Gets Your Emails Opened
In order for your pitch emails to successfully lead to a story about your business, they need to be opened and read.  Which is why having a great subject line can make or break your pitch. Great subject lines are consise and descriptive and give reporters a preview of what’s inside.

Here are two examples:

Bad Subject Line: Product Launch/Review
This is an actual subject line from a recent pitch email I received. If this was sent to a blogger or journalist who has hundreds of unread pitch emails in their inbox, it would probably get deleted or buried under new messages because nothing in the subject line makes you want to open the email.

This subject line also leaves too many questions unanswered: What brand or company is behind this product launch? Do I care about this brand? When is it launching? If it’s not launching soon, can it wait?

It’s this last question of ‘can it wait?’ that is the kiss of death for most pitches.

Good Subject Line: PITCH: Essie’s Fall Polish Line Launches in November, Samples Available for Review

This is a great subject line because it tells a reporter exactly what they can expect to read inside the pitch email. The name of the brand is stated immediately, so a reporter can decide if it’s something they want to pursue right away. The type of product is listed, which can help a reporter determine if it’s relevant for their audience. The launch date of the new product is clear, which can help a reporter decide if it’s something that should be prioritized and the mention of samples also helps increase the urgency of the pitch and gives the reporter an idea of what type of story they could write.

2. Keep Your Pitch Brief
Keep your pitch short and concise and make sure you are clear about what you want from the reporter in the first few sentences. If you’re pitching something that is complex and has supporting materials, include a link to more information or make it clear that more information is available. Don’t just stuff it all in one email because this will turn a reporter off.

3. Avoid Adding Attachments 
Like I mentioned above, if you have hi-res images or other information that supports your pitch, include a link to the information or indicate that it is available upon request. Attachments can increase the size of your email which can slow down a reporter’s computer or transmit viruses.

Making additional information “available upon request,” is also a great trigger point for reporters to contact you if they are indeed interested in what you’re pitching.

4. Introduce Yourself
This seems like a no brainer, but so many people neglect to include this information when they’re pitching a reporter or blogger for the first time.

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Most Effective Techniques for Blogger Outreach

5. Include and Repeat “The Ask”
“The ask” is what you want the reporter to do with your information (ex: request samples, interview you or another executive, write a story on a specific subject, consider including your product in a trend story, etc).

I try to include “the ask” twice in pitch emails, once at the top and again at the bottom right before the close. And I highlight this information by making the text bold.

6. Is Your Pitch Relevant and Timely?
In your pitch, make sure you explain why it’s relevant for the reporter’s audience and why they should write the story now and not a year from now. You can establish this connection by referencing how your pitch builds on a story the reporter wrote in the past and you can establish timeliness by giving an exclusive or connecting your news to something else that is happening at the same time.

7. Never Make Assumptions
To be on the safe side, include all of the pertinent information about your product or service in your pitch.

8. Provide Story Ideas
Is your product or service part of a growing trend? Would your product or service fit into a holiday gift guide? Should your expert be interviewed about a particular topic? There are many more examples, but if the answer is yes to to any of the above questions, you need to clearly spell this out so that the reporter who is reading your pitch can begin to form an idea of how they can turn your information into something useful for their readers.

9. Anticipate and Answer Any Questions in Your Pitch
Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes. Have you given them all of the information they’d need to write a story? If not, go back and add in whatever you missed.

Article by HashtagsandStiletos.com

7 traits of press releases that actually get read

I wince at 99.99 percent of the press releases I receive daily.

That’s because 99.99 percent look like sloppy cut-and-paste jobs that have nothing to do with the Daily Fix and its readers, and everything to do with the sender, the sender, and, oh, right, the sender. Reading a press release that doesn’t make me wince is rare—though not impossible.

Now and then, I receive press releases that are smart, audience-focused, brief, and interesting. So, for this week’s post, I thought I’d stay on the sunny side of the street and share seven traits about press releases that do get read:

1. A zippy email subject line.

The email subject line often sets the tone for the email I am about to skim. A subject line that captures (positive) attention is one that highlights the main focus of the article and why readers should care about that focus. Remember: The subject line isn’t a last-minute addition to your emailed press release. The subject line is the friend that will either get you into the party or get the door slammed on your face. Treat your friend well.

[RELATEDLearn to master the golden rules of PR writing at our PR Writers Summit.]

2. A decent greeting.

Personalization would be fantastic. A “Hello, Veronica” beats a “Hi, There” any day. (However, my expectations are real, and most days, I receive emails from people addressing Victoria, Valerie, Vanessa, Sir/Madame, Blog Editor, Admin, Editor, Veronicaj, and Jarski.) Any greeting that shows that the sender did take time to read the guidelines for blog submissions or to understand the Daily Fix audience puts me in a good mood right away. So, when writing your press releases, take time to think about how you will address the reader.

3. Clean, crisp lines.

I receive myriad emails that have the greeting in a tiny font and the rest of the piece in a larger, bold font. Sometimes, the emails are in different colors or fonts. Clearly, my name was swapped out in a form email. I don’t expect people to handcraft every email to me, but, sheesh, at least don’t be obvious about sending a form letter.

A fantastic press release doesn’t look like a press release. Instead, a fabulous press release looks like a quick, interesting email from someone who knows his stuff. The “official” press release (if it really has to be included at all) is an attachment or added to the bottom of an otherwise intriguing email.

4. Well-written summary of what’s up.

An elevator pitch is the best kind of pitch. For the digital world, imagine your elevator pitch is a tweet. Just tell me quickly and briefly why the news your about to share matters. What’s your point? And why should I care about it?

5. Bullet points.

Bullet points make for an easier, clearer read. Also, they demonstrate whether the author knows the most important details of the press release. If someone can’t write brief bullet points about their content, that person does not know his content. If you write good bullet points, you’re also very quotable, which is always a plus.

6. An invitation to talk more.

One of my favorite endings to any email or press release is: “If you’ve any ideas of how this can be a better fit for the Daily Fix, please feel free to email me.” I love that line. Those emails respect the reader’s time and also demonstrate a willingness to create content that better suits the audience.

7. A shareable piece of content.

Remember when we were kids who attended birthday parties and received little goody bags? A good press release makes you feel like you’ve received something fun and captivating. So, when writing a press release, be sure to include information regarding where to get additional content for the readers. For example, a good press release will mention a related infographic available for download, a downloadable whitepaper, or even a cartoon or photo of the newsworthy event.

Remember, when you’re writing a press release, you are writing for a person, not a building. If you’re really stuck on how to approach that person, imagine you’re writing for your neighbor, who knows nothing about your business and will end the conversation if you get too long-winded or boring. Always write for people.

Article from MarketingProfs