Content and structure insights that grabs the industrial technology journalist’s attention
|Posted by Robin Wyers on November 1, 2019|
Even in today’s multi-media world a well-written press release is still central to a successful industrial technology marketing communications campaign. Done properly, it will help you gain multiple channel coverage and draw widespread attention to your new product or business venture.
Traditional press release writing follows a fairly simple but critical formula that is very similar to journalistic writing. Having been a journalist for almost 20 years before taking up my current role at EMG, I want to share some key tips on how to write your release and how to get it noticed among the crowd. Both the content and the structure are essential to success.
First and foremost a press release should contain enough significant information to trigger interest and be picked up by the media, either in its entirety, or alternatively, completed with subsequent quotes and additional statistics. Industry journalists are receiving dozens of press releases each day, so you need to ensure that yours is worthy of being flagged and actioned.
Here’s a few key content considerations to take into account:
- NOVELTY IS EVERYTHING: Industry editors are looking for true novelty and want a product innovation rather than a mere range extension. Give them something they want and hit them hard. At the same time, you need to repeat your message to get it across; in fact you may have to reframe your message 5-7 times before it can gain widespread traction. Remember that it is not the oft-repeated message that will struggle to get attention, it is the story.
- CONSIDER THE CONTEXT: Even if you are not specifically launching a new product there, you will want to highlight your presence at a show through a press release. Here you could place your company’s portfolio and strategy within a larger industry and market context. For example, how does your flagship product perform on a sustainability or circular economy platform? How much can energy consumption be reduced by switching to your product? Now may be the ideal time to deliver a new story to an existing product, by playing off a creative campaign slogan and tagline.
- TIMED TO PERFECTION: It’s difficult not to get lost in the noise. Particularly when it’s showtime, all companies (including all your competitors) will be battling it out for the available column inches, so why not grab the media’s attention earlier? Giving away a teaser several months before an event can draw attention to your brand. Editors will be pleased to have a great story (potentially an exclusive) during a traditionally quiet time like the summer.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE: Since press releases are losing readers at every line, the writer needs to ensure that everyone has got to the crux of the story simply by reading the start of it. The introduction should also trigger interest for the reader to read on for more detailed information below. The emphasis should be on short and snappy sentences that avoid complex technical words unless entirely necessary. The old adage in journalism is “never use a long word when a short one will do.” The same holds true for a successful press release.
- GRANT EXCLUSIVITY: Some media companies may choose to publish the press release in its entirety, but others will opt for an entirely editorialized piece based on subsequent interviews with executives. These platforms will want to delve a bit deeper and place your move within a larger strategic context of the industry. Why not tip them off about an upcoming announcement? You can send it to them under embargo and give them the opportunity to set up an interview before release. An exclusive will lead to their appreciation and high-quality exposure for your item.
- GET IN THE EDITOR’S SHOES: A specialized press release will cater to a small but highly informed and dedicated niche. This is why the angle that these media platforms take can vary significantly, based on what their target readership needs to know. It can be challenging to change the basis of your release each time, but your cover letter to individual journalists can trigger their potential angle. Local considerations should also be taken into account. By trying to place yourself in the shoes of the editor you can creatively pitch your content to their needs and gain greater exposure.
Press release writing follows in an inverted pyramid format, where the most important information comes immediately at the beginning, followed by increasing levels of detail. The reader should be able to know the key conclusion from the very first sentences of the release. This should reveal the answers to the most important questions i.e. the who?, the why?, the what?, the where? and the when?
Here are a few structure considerations to take into account:
- DON’T OVERDO IT: Leave gaps that the journalist will fill in through their subsequent questions. Try to keep every paragraph on point and avoid repeating the same basic facts.
- FIRST IMPRESSIONS LAST: You need an email subject line/headline that instantly appeals and demands the attention of the editor.
- THE OPENING GAMBIT: A carefully considered headline should be followed by a short snappy summary that reinforces the interest and gets to the essence.
- BRINGING THINGS FORWARD: Further paragraphs will continue to add detail. A strong quote from a senior company executive helps personalize things.
- MOVE TO A CALLOUT: The release should maintain intensity until the end. Round off with your boiler plate, that spells out detail about your whole company/division.
Judging the success rate
The success of your press release will ultimately be judged on how well it is picked up by editors and the quality of the interested publications. It can also be viewed as the beginning of a more long-term role for your company as a thought leader.
A successful press release that positions your company as a true innovator will lead journalists to proactively reach out to you for updates and hunt for exclusives on your next innovation/partnership. It will also provide an excellent basis for creating your social media posts and a blog for your website.
This is why having a great partner for writing quality and targeted releases is so important. EMG is ready to help you gain the biggest possible exposure for your next product launch through successful press release delivery. We can help you on extracting the crux of what you wish to communicate, suggest how it should be written and distributed, and help you develop a comprehensive vision on how it can fit within a holistic media outreach strategy. Get in touch with us today for maximum impact.