pr makeoverA colleague and I recently re-tooled a traditional press release into an entirely new type of message. The goal of the message was to acquire new audience for a blog, in the context of promoting a live event.

We sliced through the copy, turning the most interesting fact we could find into the headline and moving brand and event info down the page. The rationale? The headline has to first and foremost attract attention, but it has to do more. It has to arrest readers and induce them to click and open the story.

Focus on why the message is important to readers, not what the brand is doing.

All the branding and positioning in the world do little if the message isn’t consumed, so we moved the brand introduction (“XYZ, a leading provider of ….”) out of the lead, and instead focused on building reader interest. We did this by focusing more on explaining why the event was important and interesting (provocative topics with lots of experts) versus what the brand was doing (holding the event.)

Offer one link as a call to action for readers

I see lots of releases that start with a URL link to the company home page right at the beginning of the lede, an exercise which provides zero utility to the reader. Unless the home page strongly supports what the press release is about, chances are good that reader you just sent to your web site will leave immediately.

So in overhauling this particular release, we dialed back on the number of links. Instead of distracting readers with scads of links that in reality didn’t strongly support the key message of the release, we focused on just one link offering it as a call to action midway through the body of the release.

Results & how-to:

The results were significant – engagement (as measured by reader interactions with content – e.g. click-throughs, shares, etc.) and total visibility were higher for this release than for all the others issued to promote the event, save one.

The breakdown of the makeover is included in the following deck, which was presented earlier this week on PR Newswire’s webinar (now available on demand) titled: Tactics for Maximizing the Results of Your Press Releases.

If you’ve been inspired to switch up your approach to (or uses for) press releases, I’d love to hear about it! Post a note in the comments, and I’ll be sure to see it.