Toyota takes on feature releases
When PR pros at Toyota American Motor Sales needed to announce record-level production recently, they started with a traditional announcement release:
But after a writing workshop with yours truly, those same PR pros came up with this feature approach:
Why feature releases?
- Features increase reading and satisfaction, according to recent studies.
- On the other hand, research shows that inverted pyramids “do not work well with readers.”
- More than half of business-to-business editors seek more feature releases, including case studies and how-to stories, according to a survey by Thomas Rankin Associates.
- No wonder the Associated Press now offers feature leads with all the stories it sends across the wire.
Features at Toyota
Features have been generating results at Toyota, too. Take a package of feature releases about Yellowstone (“Buffalo and Bears and Batteries – Oh My!” and “Yellowstone … Where the Deer and the Antelope and the Prius Play“).
“We’ve had almost 1,100 unique page views of the battery story and about 850 unique page views for the background story, both much higher than average,” says Brin Wall, writer at Toyota Motor Sales.
“Time spent on both was longer than average for our site, and the battery story was picked up by Motor Trend, Popular Science, Autoblog Green, Daily News and Automobile magazine, along with many ‘green’ outlets.”
Ready to take on a feature release yourself? Here are six ways to gain inspiration from some of Toyota’s recent feature releases.
1. Tell a story. “When you have news, report it. When you have a story, tell it.” Or so advises Poynter Institute senior scholar Roy Peter Clark. Instead of just reporting this news, Toyota PR pros told a story in this release.
2. Show drama. Is there conflict in your news? Make that the story, as Toyota PR pros did in this release:
3. Try human interest. Stumped for a lead? Look for the people behind the news, as Toyota PR pros did in this release:
5. Use concrete details. Concrete details — the 42-pound CRT from 1997, the after-college futon — make this release lead creative. And turn numbers into things, as the PR pros at Toyota do in the last paragraph here.
Focus on features.
“What really helps get [releases] picked up is a great story,” says Toyota’s Wall. And a feature release can help you put your great story in the best light.
Take a tip from Toyota: Tackle a feature release.