My former PR agency boss and mentor Kathy Keenan was a proponent of using creativity in writing news releases when the chance presented itself. As long as you could find the angle and make it work.
Writing about the Next Generation Fluidic Quad Core Gyroscopic Infinite Channel Microprocessor? Instead tell a story about a kid seeing the World Series for the first time.
Releasing State of the Art Static Reprocessing Compiler Software Version 4.0? Instead tell about the Indian kid who grew up in a small village that had no paved roads, and was so poor he didn’t have a pair of shoes until he left for college to attend the Indian Institutes of Technology.
Even 13 years ago, when I worked for Kathy, most press releases were only read by the people who wrote and approved them, and for good reason. No one can eviscerate a living, breathing press release faster or cleaner than a failed engineer who is now a failed head of marketing for a Silicon Valley company.
“Brand Journalism is when any organization—B2B company, consumer product company, the military, nonprofits, government agencies, politicians, churches, rock bands, solo entrepreneurs—creates valuable information and shares it with the world.
“Brand Journalism is not a product pitch. It is not an advertorial. It is not an egotistical spewing of gobbledygook-laden corporate drivel. “
Source David Meerman Scott
Editors Are People Too
Kathy’s reasoning was the reporters were human, and they loved a good story, too. They were much more likely to read a headline that was intriguing and stood out than the typical XYZ Corp Announces…blah, blah, blah.
She suggested having fun with headlines, and writing a less “traditional” dry release in favor of a style that created a story. A compelling narrative. One that any person interested in the subject mater would WANT to read on a airplane or on a Sunday morning.
If the writing style and quality moderately meets a journalistic standard, I have been in favor of smart companies and their PRs writing the story that they could reasonably except a good reporter would write. One that attracted readers because it was interesting and news worthy, and clearly avoided being a candidate for being heaved on to the rather large bonfire of marketing dreckitude with the others.
Press Releases As News Worthy
Legally required releases aside, can press releases and their distribution be used as a publishing platform aimed at both reporters and target customers? What do you think?