Posts Tagged ‘Press Release’


The 2014 AP Stylebook Is Out – Here’s Why PR Pros Should Pay Attention

Thursday, May 29th, 2014


It’s that time of year again: your AP Stylebook is out of date. That’s because yesterday the 2014 Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law made its spiral-bound way into the world. This year’s edition features about 200 new additions and/or revisions, and adds an entire chapter with “more than 200 religion terms.” [Per what may be this year’s most controversial revision, the AP wrote “over 200 terms,” as the title, but it looks like they decided to toe the old-school “more than” line in their press release.]

Over the past few months, they’ve alerted us to the newest revisions: there was the aforementioned “over/more than” debacle; state names should now be spelled out instead of abbreviated in the body of a story; and it is now “Wal-Mart” in all instances.

We’ve written about media styles (and using AP style in the digital age) before, but it’s worth revisiting why the AP Stylebook is so important for public relations professionals.

Following AP style makes you look like you care

When a reporter clicks on your press release, his or her attention is yours to lose, and typos or incorrectly capitalized words make that release easy to ignore. Here’s what Dan Friedman, a journalist and my dad, has to say about that: “I get so many press releases that they’re like sitting ducks; if you make your press release easy to ignore or delete, it makes my day go that much quicker. But the clean, nicely done press releases I get are so compelling that sometimes I can’t say no.”

Following AP style rules (like most journalists do) makes it clear that you care about the English language, which in turn makes you look smart and shows you care about your readers.

Journalists will be more likely to give you a chance

You want to be known in the newsroom, but not as the flack who send press releases that require heavy editing. Sending clean news releases that adhere to AP style makes journalists much more likely to read your release without feeling itchy inside. That will, in turn, make them more amenable to working with you. That doesn’t mean that one AP-style news release will get you a mention, but consistent good writing can only help your cause.

It will improve your writing

Following AP style will improve your writing both in and out of press releases. Referring to the AP Stylebook as you write means you’ll be paying more attention to your writing, which can only improve it. Familiarizing yourself with AP style and adhering to it means you’ll also be on the lookout in your colleagues’ writing, which will also make you a better editor.

It’s true that I have a soft spot for both grammar and AP Stylebook (they don’t call me @ellisredpen for nothing), but I’ve also been a journalist and am the offspring of two of them, so I know of what I speak.  Remember: friends don’t let friends capitalize job titles when they appear after a person’s name.

Press Release Fail: What to do if Your Press Release Goes Viral

Monday, September 23rd, 2013
Press release go viral? Don't put your head in the sand

Press release go viral? Don't put your head in the sand

The Internet makes it easy for recipients to share press releases, which is a good thing for spreading your message but a bad thing if the press release isn’t one of your best and it’s shared in the context of being mocked.

The press release is a fickle beast: Crafting, distributing, and seeing results from one brief news blast can seem like both the most important PR task and the most ineffective one. But somewhere along the way, the press release has turned from valuable news distributor into ubiquitous email blast.

So what should you do if you find that one of your press releases has been eviscerated online by one of its recipients? Publicly, probably nothing, unless someone called it out on a national stage – like Stephen Colbert did.

If the person who mocked your press release uses your organization’s name online in an especially negative context, it may be tempting to ask them to take it down. But most journalists won’t react to that well, and relations may further sour. Instead, politely ask the author to remove or redact the name of your organization.

Conversely, use the publicity to your advantage. Embrace the fact that the press release got attention, and use it to get more attention for your next press release. Issue a brief humorous and self-aware statement and ask that it be included in the entry about your press release.  When crafting such a statement, ensure the statement is appropriate to your organization’s culture. Keep tone in mind; if your organization’s material tends to be formal, the statement should be too. Run the statement by a few key people to ensure it strikes the right tone.

Finally, do some internal inventory as to why the press release was received with derision rather than excitement. Was the message properly targeted to its recipients? Did the press release make sense to people outside the industry?

Avoid more mistakes by learning from four of the most common press release mistakes:

It’s a bad headline

The headline is the first thing people see, and a headline that’s confusing, off-putting, or just plain bad means your press release is starting at a huge disadvantage.

Quick tips: keep headlines short. – preferably fewer than 65 characters.

It’s filled with jargon

Buzzwords and jargon won’t help you stand out – the PR industry’s most overused buzzwords won’t differentiate your press release.  Plus, to people outside your industry, industry jargon just sounds like nonsense.

Quick tips: Find other words for “innovation,” “solution,” and “leading,” and variations thereof.

It’s too wordy

Recall that brevity is the soul of wit; if you can say it in fewer words, do so. The longer a press release, the more likely it is that the writer is struggling to explain everything.

Quick tips: Stick to the facts. List the most important points to convey, and lead with the most important one.

It’s filled with errors

For writers on deadlines, time is short, and receiving an error-filled press release is both frustrating and a waste of time.

Quick tips: Proofread your press release, then have someone else proofread it. Familiarize yourself with AP style, which is considered the media style standard, and stick to it.

Check out more of our tips for crafting better press releases.

BurrellesLuce Complimentary Webinar: Leveraging Breaking News to Boost Your Brand

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

BurrellesLuce Complimentary Webinar w/ Todd Hartley - Leveraging Breaking News to Boost Your BrandBurrellesLuce Complimentary Webinar: Leveraging Breaking News to Boost Your Brand

Register Now!

When: Monday, September 24, 2012

Time: Noon EDT

When news breaks in your industry, what should you do? How do you own the conversation, promote your expert, and develop business relationships that convert to revenue?

Join BurrellesLuce and Todd Hartley, CEO of WireBuzz for this informative 60-minute webcast, “Leveraging Breaking News to Boost Your Brand.”

During the webcast you will:

  • Learn tricks to maximize breaking news opportunities by combining a press release with a rapid-response video.
  • Learn how to optimize social media engagement and search results for breaking news.
  • See case studies implementing this strategy.

And much more…

Register Now!

Moderator: Johna Burke, senior vice president, marketing, BurrellesLuce

Space is limited. Sign up now for this free webinar, “Leveraging Breaking News to Boost Your Brand.” If we are unable to accept your registration, an on-demand presentation will be available for review after the event at www.burrellesluce.com.

***

Todd Hartley (@TheToddHartley), CEO of WireBuzz, has spearheaded digital marketing campaigns for seven of the largest national talk shows and created the first video medical encylopedia on the internet. His agency, WireBuzz, specializes in developing fast video content production for press releases, search engine optimization, and customer lead generation.

Media Pitching: How to Get Past the Clutter

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

This article first appeared on The Agency Post 6.19.12 and is cross-posted with permission.

You’re probably thinking, “Of course I know how to pitch the media.” But do you really? The days of simply pulling a media list from a media directory service and blasting out a press release to hundreds (or thousands) of media contacts are over.

Of course, some of the basics haven’t changed:

1. Stay on top of breaking news. Know where your client may fit in, so you aren’t pitching at an inappropriate time.

2. Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes — understand, appreciate, anticipate.

3. Act with integrity and respect — never lie.

4. Be accessible and straightforward — deliver well thought-out responses and never “ad lib.”

Like other professions, journalists are now doing more with less. They’re covering more beats/subjects, writing more stories (and in many cases also writing blog posts), and doing so with shorter deadlines.

You’ve no doubt heard the adage, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.” This really applies here! We must be diligent in digging deeper — looking at past stories, reading the journalist’s or outlet’s blog, virtually getting to know the person so we’re confident our news is a good fit.

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin hit the nail on the head when he said, “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.” He was talking about digital media marketing, but it applies in modern media relations as well.

Here are five questions you can ask yourself before pitching a story:

  • Is the content pertinent and fresh (aka newsworthy) — not too far past, but not too far in the future?
  • Have you stated actual facts in your news release — products, services, events, people, projects, while avoiding jargon or specialized technical terms?
  • Do you have facts, statistics, photos, quotes, backup stories, video or audio, and experts available where you need them?
  • Have you tailored the pitch to the specific interests of the targeted journalist/ blogger?
  • Are you capable of presenting your pitch — complete with the significance of the story, the unique angle, the connection to their readers, and its relevance — in 30 to 60 seconds? (Note: It’s not a bad idea to practice your pitch with colleagues or friends.)

This isn’t intended to be an all-inclusive checklist, but if you answered “yes” to all five it certainly stacks the odds in your favor.

Brand Journalism – An Oxymoron or Clever Communications Tactic?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

BurrellesLuce recently wrote a newsletter on 5 Tips for Incorporating Brand Journalism Into Your Communications Strategy. But what exactly IS brand journalism and how does it affect PR, media relations, and marketing as we know them?

While the term “brand journalism” aka “content journalism” has been getting significant air play lately, the concept has been around for awhile.

One of the earliest references came from Larry Light, McDonald’s CMO, at the 2004 AdWatch conference where he proclaimed that mass marketing no longer worked and no single approach told the whole story.

“Brand Journalism is a chronicle of the varied things that happen in our brand world, throughout our day, throughout the years. Our brand means different things to different people. It does not have one brand position. It is positioned differently in the minds of kids, teens, young adults, parents and seniors. It is positioned differently at breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, weekday, weekend, with kids or on a business trip.

“Brand Journalism allows us to be a witness to the multi-faceted aspects of a brand story. No one communication alone tells the whole brand story. Each communication provides a different insight into our brand. It all adds up to a McDonald’s journalistic brand chronicle,” he declared.

Brand journalism, it seems, is not just a replacement for earned media or advertising or even direct marketing. Rather it ties all these things together. It involves telling stories — that do not read like a press release or marketing and advertising copy — and that make readers want to know more about your organization. Note that if you’re going to give it a try, brand journalism needs to be part of your overall communications strategy.

(more…)