PR Newswire’s Kate Goebbel (@kate_city) wrote a wonderful blog post several months ago, called How to Add Personality to Your Next Personnel Press Release.
I found it fabulously inspiring! The idea stuck in my head.
When a client asks us to write a new hire press release, it’s easy to dismiss its importance, churning out a cookie cutter release talking about their new role, their background and a quote that sounds like a million OTHER new hire quotes.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS if we flip the process on its ear – thinking about WHAT ELSE we can do with that release?
What if the new job is secondary – almost coincidental? What if we use that press release to showcase actual expertise by sharing some of it, instead of just saying they have it?
How can we make it more than a new hire release, so it has potential to become A BIGGER STORY in a journalist’s hands? After all, there’s only so much press you can get on personnel news, right? It’s extremely limited.
Expanding the story gives us more to work with, too, from a repurposing perspective.
It’s up to us to challenge our own thinking. Don’t fall into the trap of doing what we’ve always done, relying on experience in lieu of fresh thinking.
Go ahead. Confront the status quo. Write it differently. Shake up your process, your outputs. Give the press release a fresh new spin that is completely unlike what you’ve done before.
Putting the idea to the test
When a new hire press release came my way last week, I decided to use that inspiration.
It wasn’t a c-level position, which meant it would have very little importance from a media perspective. Since we’re in the tail-end of third quarter, I decided to interview the new hire on his area of expertise, diving into specific trends he had noticed during this quarter and their local impact.
I wrote up the press release showcasing these trends, giving it a heavy local spin.
When I sent the press release draft to the client, I let them know it wasn’t the typical new hire release, giving them a bit of detail about the strategy and what I hoped it would accomplish. By sharing this information, I was shaping their view of the press release before they read it, so their expectations and resulting edits were in alignment.
The client was in an industry with rigorous compliance requirements, so I wasn’t surprised when the press release came back to me with some fairly major changes. They wanted a softer, more conservative approach. The trends remained, but the headline became a bit more generic and some of the more definitive statements were removed. I made the edits and version two of the press release was approved with a one-word change. Victory!
The compromise made us both happy.
The press release was uploaded to a wire service to ensure it was picked up on Google News, Yahoo Finance and MSN Money (Bing) for release the next morning, then I began putting my emails together to distribute the release.
To grow reach of your press release even further, repurposing might also be appropriate.
Why not create a quick video interviewing the new hire, talking about those same topics and posting it on LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube? Maybe throw a few extra questions into the interview exploring their expertise, saving the footage for later use or transcribing it into a blog post?
If video editing resources aren’t available, why not turn each trend mentioned in the press release into its own blog post or byline article? My press release included five trends – five opportunities for fresh content creation.
Because it is a rich source of information, instead of just a new hire announcement, the press release also creates a rich source of quotes to transform into tweets and branded images on social media.
This was the first press release done for a new client. While waiting on their feedback, I had already created a custom media list of publications impacted by the trends outlined in the release, as well as the typical industry media. I now separated out the publications who make a habit of picking up press releases “as is” for their news stream (which is obvious when looking at their website), adding them to a typical press release email blast.
Every other publication on my list received a custom pitch, with the press release pasted below the pitch. Because I had taken time to review their website and editorial calendar before creating the pitch–a 5-10 minute task per publication–I was able to tailor each pitch to their upcoming needs. If they didn’t have an editorial calendar, I chose one trend from the press release that was most appropriate to them and wrote a pitch expanding on that trend. If they had an editorial calendar, I looked at upcoming issues and pitched story ideas that fit in with my press release and worked with the topics identified in their calendar. If they had upcoming topics that fit my client but not the press release, I noted them down to pitch at a later date.
Today is day one. I’ve landed interest from the local business journal for their upcoming finance issue along with a placement in their “people on the move” column, a trends byline in a local trade association magazine and several pickups in a few of the important industry sites, along with the usual wire service results. Without a single follow-up, about one-third of my media list has already responded favorably. Not bad for a new hire release.
I’m expecting more things to pop as I continue working at it. We’ll see what happens.
Before you go, take a few minutes to check out this fantastic SlideShare deck from Malcolm Atherton. He’s now with Exact Target, instead of PR Newswire, and a very talented man. I’m sure they’re feeling his loss.