You Ask, I Answer: Giving Press Releases More Life?

Catherine asks, “How do you give a press release more life? We post it on social media, it goes on the website, etc. but then it just fades away.”

You Ask, I Answer: Giving Press Releases More Life?
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Christopher Penn 0:13

In today’s episode, Catherine asks, How do you give a press release more life? We post it on social media, it goes on the website, but then it just fades away.

Yep.

Let me ask you this.

And I’ve been asking people this for almost a decade now.

When was the last time you saw a parent reading a press release to a child at bedtime? right answers ever.

We will don’t do that.

Why? Because press releases are boring.

Of course, there’s no life in it, because it’s boring.

Nobody wants to read it.

It’s filled with you know, here’s the the bombastic statement, opening paragraph, you know, so and so Corporation is proud to announce are pleased to announce are honored to announce their flexible, scalable, agile turnkey integration solution, blah, blah, blah, then you have two quotes by the CEO that the CEO never said, but you know, some intern wrote, and then you have boilerplate at the end.

Nobody reads press releases, nobody wants to read a press release.

So of course, it fades away.

So the question is, what story are you trying to tell? And is there a format other than a press release that that meets it? Suppose you, you’re promoting a new executives book, right? And you’ve got a press release? Nobody cares? What’s the book about? How does it help people? How does it serve the audience better? What are some interesting stories that you can extract out? And then you create content around that you create content around the stories about the central thesis, right? If you’re announcing a new product feature? Again, nobody cares.

What does that feature? Do? Who does it help? How do people get value out of it? And that’s where you can take the pieces of a press release, remix them as an actual story, and then post them places and create content around that.

A press release.

And the story that it contains, conceivably is nothing more than a webpage.

So how do you drive traffic to a web page, right? You can post about on social media? Sure, you can put in your email newsletter, you can run ads to it, you can make video promos of it, you can text people about it, there is no shortage of ways to promote a web page.

The question is, is it worth promoting? Right? If your press releases are just fading away, it’s probably because nobody cares.

And that’s not a reflection on even the content itself.

So much as the format we have been conditioned as content consumers to ignore those things, right.

For those folks who have blogs, or podcasts or things where you get pitches from public relations professionals, anytime I get a press release, it immediately goes in the trash bin, because I have no interest in reading it.

It looks like a press release.

It goes in the trash bin because it’s not gonna say anything interesting.

I’ve yet to see access to I’ve seen what exactly one press release that was worth reading.

And it was from Opera Software years ago.

And it was very cleverly done.

Because they had a little slider said how much corporate bullshit do you want, in none, and then when it was slid all the way and as opera has a new version of his browser, and that was just one sentence and you tag the slider all the way to the right.

And this press release gets this long.

And it’s, you know, Opera Software, the world’s leading blah, blah, blah.

And it was funny, it was really well done.

That’s the only press release I can think of that I actually wanted to ever read everything else has not been great.

So what is the angle? What is the hook? What is the story? When you’re pitching this thing? What is the story that you’re telling people? Because I would presume as a public relations professional, you’re not just putting out a press release, but you’re also pitching reporters on whatever the topic of the thing is.

What is that? Right, what is what is it you’re trying to, to convey? If it’s high profile quotes from influencers? Cool, okay.

atomize those, break them up? Something that my my friend and former colleague Todd Devon used to say is that content atomization is everything said that in 2008, take a piece of content, break it into a million pieces.

Every one of those high profile quotes that’s in your press release should be its own little social card.

Or if you want to get crazy and creative find a way to work it into a meme.

That’s actually funny.

There’s no shortage of memes that have sort of a sarcastic angle that would I think, would do great with corporate quotes.

You know, there’s that one of the woman looking at two cards, you know that corporates asked you to compare these two images and you know, they The answer is always the same.

What kinds of things what can you do with that?

Christopher Penn 4:51

Again, it’s the problem with the press releases largely the container itself, right? We’ve become accustomed to ignoring them.

So how do you take the Have the pieces of it and distribute them in different ways that people want to consume that people want to pay attention to.

If you again, if you’ve got these great high profile things, do you have video of that? Is that something you can put up on YouTube or Tiktok, or Instagram or something where people will actually watch it? If it’s really compelling or interesting.

And therein lies the last part.

And this is the part that, again, I spent five, yeah, five years at a public relations firm, almost six.

Most of the stories that my colleagues were pitching were boring.

They were boring.

They’re uninteresting news from uninteresting companies, which, of course, is why those companies hired a PR firm in the first place.

Right? If they had really compelling stories, they wouldn’t need a PR firm, right? Apple, for example, has a corporate communications department, and they probably do have a PR firm.

But people actually want to pay attention to what Apple has to say, or what Google has to say, and so on and so forth.

For a lot of these challenger brands.

They didn’t have anything to say that was interesting.

So part and parcel of the work you have to do is, is there a story there? Is there any actual news, when you’re doing a press release or a news release, there has to be actual news in there.

The easiest way to create news is to take a bunch of the data and the research that you’ve done, and find an an actual piece of news, something that’s new information that is valuable to the audience.

Again, with most press releases the value in them as entirely to the company that’s publishing it, check out a flexible, scalable, blah, blah, blah, product.

So what that doesn’t provide me any value only provides company value.

What’s in it for me as the reader, right, and if there is no value, if I’m not going to learn something, if I’m not going to find it amusing, if I’m not going to something that’s gonna make me laugh, then it’s not news, it’s not worth sharing, and publish the press release.

Because if you need to adhere to regulations, or whatever, or it makes your executives happy, great, do what you got to do to keep your stakeholders happy, but expecting and trying to generate performance for something that inherently as a medium that doesn’t perform well.

And with the tailwind or the headwinds of not very interesting news to begin with is a is a tall challenge.

If you come up with a piece of news that’s really actually compelling, that’s interesting.

It’s much easier to get people to pay attention to it, it’s much easier to get people to share it to talk about it and things like that.

Here is my question to you.

I would assume that you have close friends, some kind, significant others, things like that.

The news, it’s in your press release? How many of your friends who don’t work in your industry? Have you eagerly told about because you’re so excited about it? Right? If you have a significant other? Have you bored them to death of talking about this news over dinner? Probably not.

Right? Which means is not news that you find so compelling that you’ve got to share it with people that you care about whether or not they care about the news that you’re so excited, like I’ve been telling my friends and my colleagues and stuff about my new Google Analytics course I’m getting ready to launch this week.

I’m excited about it.

I’ve told my wife about it.

She’s like, aha, that’s nice.

But it’s exciting, because it solves a lot of problems for a lot of people.

And it’s exciting for the company, too.

But I’m so enthused about it.

That I’m telling people who frankly, don’t care.

I gotta tell my kids about No, they’re like, yeah.

But that’s a good indicator for you, that you’ve got some news, that you’ve got something worth sharing when you can’t contain yourself.

You’re so excited about it.

You’re so emotionally engaged in it.

And you got news, right? Because let’s face it, you’re not excited about it.

Your audience for sure is not going to be excited about it.

So that’s your benchmark.

That’s the question to ask yourself about how to get more life out of your news release.

It’s got to have a lot of life and energy and to begin with the story’s got to have life to begin with.

Thanks for asking.

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