Branding and advertising messages can be both offensive and defensive – which may be why they seem to be everywhere these days. Added to the barrage of news and posts coming in to your RSS feed, newsletters you’ve subscribed to, social news streams, your email inbox, not to mention your personal communications and – you’ve got information overload.
According to a video based on the book Socialnomics™ by Erik Qualman, we no longer search for the news but the news finds us or, at least, it tries to reach us. I’ve heard there’s an average of 5,000 attempts to get our attention every day. That was back in 2006 – the figures are probably even higher by now. But even so, 5,000 messages? Per day? Yikes! No wonder we feel overwhelmed sometimes.
That’s the “average” person. Imagine how a journalist must feel. Journalists must be masters of information management. According to a Journalistics post, they are receiving hundreds of pitches a day. (Makes my head swim just thinking about it!) As The Media evolves, newsrooms are also switching to more hyperlocal formats and journalists are finding that they are wearing other hats, besides that of journalist, including business person and manager.
Seth Godin recently wrote on his blog that, “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.”
To stop issuing press releases isn’t really an option, so how do you keep yours from being lost in the thicket of information and simply adding to the fatigue of digital overload?
- Craft the perfect headline. It should clearly epitomize what your press release is about while including keywords (for SEO). Try to get it down to 10-12 words or less.
- Lead with the hook. The lead (first sentence or “hook”) should be clear and concise. The news in your news release has to be obvious.
- Skip the fluff. State actual facts – products, services, events, people, projects. Avoid jargon or specialized technical terms.
- Set word limits. In a recent PRSA Tactics article, Ann Wylie writes, “The recommended length for the average press release has dropped from 400 words in print to 250 words online, according to Internet marketing strategist B.L. Ochman.” The press release should not tell the whole story but simply an idea of what their readers need to know.
- Timing is everything. The content should be relevant and fresh – not too far past and not too far in the future.
- Target distribution. I’m not going to detail in this post, but if you want to revisit why this is so important, you can read about it here and here.
As Wylie states (in the above-referenced article), “The right length for each piece depends on the topic, audience, medium, budget and other factors.” The key is not “smothering your readers with information.”
How are you tailoring your media outreach to fit the ever-changing needs of journalists and bloggers? If you’ve given your press release a makeover, to keep up with the times, how successful have your efforts been? Please share your thoughts with the me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.