PR 2.0: Death of the Traditional Press Release

Today, the majority of press releases created are hardly ever noticed, let alone read. With this, Newport Beach & Co.’s PR department is studying new and effective strategies to get releases seen.  The traditional, dull and boring press release model, is extinct.

We have compiled the top strategies from PR guru Ann Wylie, and DCI PR and marketing expert Brittani Wood to help your team cut through the chaos, to construct a fresh, effective and attention-grabbing press release.

HEADLINE: Did you know that only the first 11 characters of your press release’s headline are actually read? We only have a matter of seconds to grab the readers’ attention in full. Creating a standout, short and tight headline is the first step in getting noticed.

Quick Tips:

  • Your headline should be 65-70 characters long
  • Imagine your headline as a short alluring tweet
  • Do not add multiple W’s into the headline
  • Do not use passé jargon such as “Announcing” or “Presents” – your press release is the announcement
  • Strengthen your verbs and adjectives, instead of using overplayed and meaningless words such as “amazing” and “great” try mightier words like “manifests” and “voracious”

Example:

  • “Walking Dead” Infects Online Ed
  • BYU ‘mathletes’ film rap video ahead of March Madness”

DECK: The deck or subhead is the most important part of your release. 95% of readers will actually read your deck and it may be the only portion of your release they see. Remember, if this is the only thing they read, make sure it’s an enthralling or teasing summary of your story.

Quick Tips:

  • Your deck only holds readers for less than 8 seconds
  • Don’t use any of the same words from your headline
  • The deck should be no more than 15 words

Example:

Headline: Mom, Stop Calling, I’ll Text You All Day
Deck: As 20-Somethings Chat Online With Their Tech-Savvy Parents, Does Closeness Hurt Independence?

Headline: “Opportunity Knocks! On Wood?
Deck: Conservative company finds liberal growth in an untapped wood market

LEAD: The lead is your intro paragraph and expands on your headline and deck. Try to resist the urge to pack as many facts and W’s into this paragraph as possible. Instead, consider utilizing only two W’s such as what and why.

Quick Tips:

  • Try leading with a benefit: why your news benefits visitors, people or readers
    • X (users) will now be able to Y (benefit), thanks to A (your company)
    • Limit background information
    • Don’t bog down the reader with too many statistics
    • The lead paragraph should be 25 words or less

Example:

Imagine the first few hours in the recovery room following a hysterectomy or ligament repair. Consider what post-surgical life has been like for some pets undergoing common surgical procedures; intense hours WITHOUT pain medication.”

BODY:The body of your story includes compelling highlights, game-changing facts and lurid details. Make all the information relevant and meaningful. Don’t focus on an epic beginning and then lose the reader half way down the release. Fashion engaging content that gives the viewer a need to read the entire release.

Quick Tips:

  • The body should include sections in which you expand on the subject line and deck in more detail
  • Figure out the way your readers would use your information and organize the paragraph structure from there
  • Make the copy tight and scannable, viewers only reading about 20% of the copy
  • Increase the fun facts and juicy details and cut the fluff
  • Deliver a tangible point-of-view
  • Give startling statistics
  • Use third party testimonials
  • The body should be 250-400 words

Example:

Each year, more than 400,000 homeless pets find adoptive families through PetSmart Charities® adoption programs. Our goal is to find a lifelong, loving home for every pet.

Since 1994, we’ve worked with thousands of animal welfare agencies across North America to get more than 5 million homeless pets adopted.

In fact, no other charity saves as many pets’ lives as PetSmart Charities®, thanks to our reach and local and national collaborations.

QUOTES:When inserting quotes into your release, remember that the boring talking head is over. You need to give your reader funny, thought-provoking, or interesting snappy sound bites. Don’t add in a quote, just because it’s a “requirement,” make it significant to the story!

Quick Tips:

  • Keep the quotes short and tight, just 1 sentence
  • The reader doesn’t care how the quoted person feels, omit over-played words like “thrilled,” “pleased” or “excited”
  • Quote when it’s necessary to give your copy a human perspective or to communicate an opinion
  • Stick with “said” and “says”
  • Most of all, make it creative – use metaphors, twist phrases, alliterations, and triadic phases

Example:

“I can flap my lips all I want. Talk is cheap. Watch us”
-JetBlue CEO David Needleman

“You’ll be spammed if we do and spammed if we don’t.”
-Federal Trade Commission Spokesperson