Focus on the reader, not on PR 101 approaches
When Rachel McGrew, manager at Osborn Barr PR, wrote a press release about a client product, she didn’t rely on the PR 101 approaches she learned in college. Instead, she reimagined her release to write for the reader, not for fill-in-the-blanks PR conventions.
“We received way more coverage than we expected,” McGrew said. “We targeted several major national agriculture publications, and the release was picked up by all of them.”
Here’s how to write a press release that focuses on the reader:
1. Write about the reader in the headline.
We think the topic is the topic. But if you want to get read, make the reader the topic of every story.
Do focus your headline on what the reader will get out of the product, service, program or idea:
Farmers: Pen-and-paper crop scouting becomes obsolete
Don’t announce that you’re launching a new product, service, program or idea:
Rev!Co™ introduces new mobile crop scouting application
Bonus points: Grab attention by calling out to readers in the headline.
2. Introduce the product in the deck.
The deck, that one-sentence summary after the headline, is soon enough to focus on the product.
Do introduce and define the product and summarize what it will do for your readers:
New mobile application Rev!ID scouts, syncs and saves
Don’t mention partnerships, use hype words (revolutionize) or otherwise gaze at your navel:
Rev!ID Partners with SST Software to Revolutionize Crop Scouting
Bonus points: Rhetorical techniques like alliteration (scouts, syncs and saves) make display copy more eloquent.
3. Show in the lead.
One key to grabbing reader interest in the lead is to show instead of tell.
Do illustrate the problem you’re solving with your product, service, program or idea:
In 2013, tractors can practically drive themselves, and farmers tweet up to five times a day. But crop scouting is still done with pen and paper. This technology gap in the ag industry costs farmers and retailers time and money.
Don’t tell about the product, peppering the first paragraph with your brand name:
The new agriculture crop scouting application, Rev!ID, hit the market last week with a revolutionary approach. Rev!ID is a mobile all-in-one tool that allows crop consultants, growers, retailers and field scouts to work independently or together from a single program. Rev!ID is the first mobile app that allows you to scout more than 300 crops and track/identify over 1,500 issue types.
Bonus points: At 40-words long, the final lead is much more accessible than the 61-word “don’t” version.
4. Tell in the nut graph.
Now that you’ve grabbed the readers’ attention by writing about his needs, explain how you’re going to solve that problem in the second paragraph, aka the “nut graph“:
Do write about what the reader will get, not about what you are selling:
Now crop scouting joins the digital age, thanks to a new software solutions company, Rev!Co™. With the company’s scouting application, Rev!ID™, farmers and their retailers the can electronically scout and record common crop issues. In real time. …
Don’t write about the partnership or pat yourself and your colleagues on the back with adjectives like innovative and influential:
The use of mobile technology in the field continues to rise, and Rev!ID joins forces with some of the most innovative and influential information technology companies in the world. Among them is SST Software, the leader in agriculture information management.
5. Focus on people, not things.
It’s the rare reader who cares about what went into the sausage. Instead of focusing on the technology, show your clients using the product, service, program or idea in the field.
Do write about people doing things:
Users can take pictures of scouting events with their mobile device, create field-specific reports and email results to retailers, applicators and growers.
With this tool, users can cross-check photos and diagnoses from the palm of their hands.
Don’t write about the technology behind the stuff:
Rev!ID leverages the power of the SST agX issue and crop taxonomy data. In addition, a revolutionary feature is Rev!ID’s field boundary integration.
6. Use creative techniques.
Creative elements help readers “see” your point.
Do use metaphor, alliteration and other creative devices:
Rev!ID also uses its own “Wiktionary” photo and reference tool to harness the power of groupthink.
Don’t rely on just the facts, ma’am:
With Rev!ID, we integrate a retailer or consultant’s existing SST Summit field boundaries so the scouting information is captured on one set of field records.
7. Lift ideas off of the page with display copy.
News releases still look pretty much the same way they did when Ivy Lee invented the release 106 years ago: like one long river of gray text.
Rev!Co partners with SST Software
Geared for success
… and callouts:
With its powerful tools and timesaving functionality, Rev!ID enhances the value of field scouting in the 21st century.
Don’t leave out the display copy. Readers don’t want to wade through a river of unbroken text.
How can you reboot your release to increase interest and coverage?