News releases need more than writing and editing

The Getting Ink collective have a great post up about how junior technology journalists choose what to put in the NIB section (news in brief).

The key? Say what the company does with no jargon in the first paragraph.

…if it had the word ‘hardware’ in it, I wrote it up for the hardware news page. If it had ‘software’ in the opening par, I wrote that release up for the software section. And if it had ‘leading provider of turn-key, end-to-end solutions for mission critical, value added business process’ in the opening par? I binned it, and hoped nobody was any the wiser.

One of my old clients had a template news release that had an opening paragraph that went something like “client organization, leading provider of open-source, turn-key, end-to-end solutions for mission critical, value added business process, today announced…”

Clearly this worked for the client but not the journalist.

The problem, as I see it, is that companies are spending so much money on executive retreats to come up with strategy, messaging and…mission statements! Mission statements that have to be placed injudiciously into their news releases with the only purpse of confusing the journalist (is this my beat or not?) and even worse, completely alienating any poor customer who accidentally comes across it.

Guy Kawasaki suggested adopting mantras as opposed to mission statements. Mantras are short, snappy, invocative. Mission statements are long, over written, snore inducing.

How about “Nike, a sports company dedicated to authentic athletic performance, today announced…”? How would that work for your client? (updated – sports is shorter and sounds better than sportswear)

Make your news releases easy to disseminate, not impossible to decode.

**UPDATED – The point of this post was to try and encourage change on the client side; not to dole out advice on how to better spam journalists. Get your clients to donate the $25k they’d have spent on the executive retreat to a charity; then take five minutes to come up with a mantra for future news releases.**

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