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As much as we try to deny it, image is important. Take Lance Armstrong, for example: here was a man who overcame all odds in his battle with cancer and went on to win the Tour de France not just once—and stunning feat for anyone—but seven times! He became a symbol of perseverance and the indomitable American spirit until . . . well, you know the story. He was cheating the whole time. The backlash cost him hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorships, his contract with Nike, and all seven of his medals. Tough luck!
Armstrong’s story is not unique. Every week we hear something similar on the news. Image is important for anyone trying to making a name for themselves. Press releases can be an effective way to preserve a good reputation—or salvage a tarnished one—if they’re done the right way.
1. Headlines Will Make or Break You
Headlines should be concise and to the point. save the elaboration for the article body.
2. Keep the Message Simple
Press releases are meant primarily for the Associated Press and news organizations clamoring to be the first one to break your news to the world. Sometimes this race to be first is won at the expense of the accuracy of the facts. Consequently, if your press release contains too many complex ideas, or is unclear in anyway, your message could get lost in translation or interpreted incorrectly.
3. Never Lie
Nothing will destroy your goodwill with greater force than lying to the public. Bad news is a part of life, but it doesn’t necessarily have to ruin your image. For instance, Anthony Weiner’s bid for the mayoral office of New York City could easily have been ruined by yet another sexting scandal that broke during his campaign. However, not only did he confirm the allegations but his wife, Huma Abedin, won extra points with the press for her unfailing support of her husband in spite of this “difficult time.”
4. Use Spellcheck
In a world where much of what is released to the world must be stuffed into a 140-character snippet, spelling and grammar have all but gone the way of the dinosaur. But in the professional sphere, credibility is found in one’s ability to communicate clearly—and that involves proofreading. Often times, both the press and the public care little about what you have to say if how you’re saying it reflects an uneducated or sloppy nature.
5. Is it Newsworthy?
If a press release doesn’t contain real news—specific and relevant facts—it likely will not make it to the newsroom. Approach writing press releases as you would posting a status update on Facebook. Do you want to be the one who will occasionally post something interesting or profound; or would you rather come off as desperate for attention by frequently posting a picture of yourself every time you go to the gym? The choice is yours.
Jake Magleby has written extensively about effective marketing, sales, and public relations strategies to help small business owners succeed in the fast-paced and ever-changing business world. In addition to studying rules engine architecture, he also has an interest in education and development.