You Lose When Your Press Releases Make Everyone Snooze

Tired woman are sleepingLearn What Not to Do from One Very Boring News Release

Press releases still pack a punch for marketers.

With content rich releases, smart marketers engage not only the press, but thousands of customers as well. But, ineffective press releases benefit neither a company nor its customers.

As with so many things, it’s probably easier to explain what’s important in a press release than it is to execute effectively. Fortunately, it’s much more common sense than it is rocket science.

Effective press releases incorporate core content marketing concepts:

  • Understand your customers’ information needs
  • Create content that responds precisely to those information needs
  • Explain how you can solve their problems whether personal or professional
  • Make that content immediately engaging with a strong, benefit-laden
    • headline
    • subhead
    • first paragraph
  • Be certain that the lead-off content is all about the customer and not all about your company.
  • When it’s time to talk about your company, make sure your unique benefits shine through.

Much of this may seem obvious. But it’s surprising how many marketing professionals seem to get it wrong. This makes for an awful lot of ineffective press releases that sit around mostly unread, cluttering the Internet.

Lessons to Learn from a Snooze-Inducing Press Release

The good news is that we can learn from both great press releases–those that are not quite so great. In the latter category, see if you can figure out what you might take away from the following, real-life news release headline:

BDD Corporation Plans to Utilize Twitter Research 

Unfortunately, this headline gives us almost no reason to continue reading further. And, it doesn’t get much better as the press release proceeds.

Unless we already know the company, we cannot even guess at how they might use Twitter research to our benefit. The headline does not explain how they will use Twitter research nor why they are using it.

Following the headline, we get a quote which essentially serves as a subhead. But, we are still left hanging in terms of precisely how a prospective customer might benefit:

Twitter has announced the release of a new "viral research" technique. BDD Marketing and Management plan to incorporate these techniques into future SEO marketing strategies.

Although we learn that "viral" and "SEO marketing" are somehow involved, we still don’t really know how this new tool will solve the marketing problems of a potential customer.

In the first paragraph that follows, we get a bit more information, learning that "The new form of online research is a new social search platform used to research trends and feeds of twitter accounts all over the world."  Okay. But, how exactly would a customer put this research tool to work?

The next paragraph essentially narrates the story of the company that created the tool, which it says is aimed at "marketing professionals and business owners… And that it "will allow users to be able to gather information from a unique 1% of their potential customers."  What does that mean: “1% of their potential customers?”

It’s not until the third paragraph that we learn that it will enable business owners to better understand their target audiences and shape marketing, events, and social media practices around the likes and dislikes of users.

It Takes Way Too Long to Tell Customers Very Little

We still don’t know exactly what makes this new tool uniquely important. After all, isn’t all research designed to let us know our customers better? We need specificity. We want an example of a unique, powerful insight that was gleaned from this tool. We want a client company to tell us  precisely how they benefited.

Oddly, after these first several paragraphs the press release veers into talking about a completely different research tool that has absolutely no connection to the headline of the press release. It appears to be designed to reinforce the devotion of BDD to leading edge research tools. That’s good. But, it’s much more about the company than the customer.

The Final Paragraph That Provides BDD’s Company Information Leaves Us Hanging, Too

We learn only that "BDD Marketing and Management is a full-service company. Founded on a deep value system and backed by a highly motivated staff, BDD is a company with a fully customizable menu of business options to fit every need."

Yes, but what exactly do they do? What makes them unique? What sort of full-service company are they? Do they offer absolutely every kind of customizable business option for every need?

BDD probably has a strong set of core capabilities and has done great work for its customers. Unfortunately, this press release pretty much leaves us guessing… Guessing about how we would benefit from the new research tool… And guessing about what makes this company uniquely valuable to solving our marketing needs.

A Missed PR Opportunity That Great Content Would Have Solved

We don’t really know why the headlined research tool would deliver a unique benefit to a business customer. Sadly, there is probably a great story buried somewhere about the new research tool that would have engaged all of us who are desperate to really understand our customers.  All of us, would have devoured that story from start to finish.

This entry was posted in Content Marketing, Examples of Bad Content, Missed Content Opportunities, Online, Public Relations, Tips & Mini-Guides and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted January 4, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Love this post! I especially like your core content marketing concepts. In addition to “boring” press releases, marketers can also let their creativity blind their message. I’ve seen quite a few examples where the actual news announcement is buried behind a “cute” headline. It is a fine balance to write a headline, summary and opening that not only conveys your news, but also engages your readers — encouraging them to click through and read your announcement in full.

    I also recommend taking advantage of any multimedia options when publishing news online. Images, videos, slideshows and additional file uploads only serve to make your release stronger and more dynamic. A well crafted press release is a powerful sales tool! Hopefully readers will take your advice and reap the rewards!

  2. Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    YES! This is such a great article. I LOVE that you start with the lackluster headline, because it really sets the parameters for the entire release. Far too often we see headlines like this sample title for a student loan company:

    ABC Company Launches Blog

    Unfortunately, no one REALLY cares that ABC Company launched a blog other than ABC Company. What people might really care about is what the content IN that blog might do for them. For example:

    ABC Company On a Mission To Help 25,000 Kids Afford College Through New Blog Resources

    Injecting passion, heart, and a bit of human interest is what captures the attention of customers, journalists, bloggers, and other influencers.

    This is such an important article Newt — well done!

  3. Newt Barrett
    Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Tara and Christine,
    Thanks so much for the positive feedback…and for your additional insights.

  4. Posted January 5, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    This post is bang on point. It appears to me (from my perspective from my post with press release purveyor PR Newswire) that a lot of folks ‘phone in’ their press releases, relying on tired formats and language. Fact is, the press release still garners a lot of attention. Our analytics show that readers often share releases on social networks, forward them on via email and print them out for other uses. For these reasons – and because press releases are also very search engine friendly – it stands to reason that these messages should be polished to a high shine. Getting attention should be but one goal. Keeping it is another.

  5. Newt Barrett
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I’m delighted that you enjoyed my post. I love what you folks do over there at PRWire. In fact, I’ve learned a lot from your site.

  6. Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The anatomy of modern press releases seems to be changing a little, as content marketers are scoring points with well crafted PR. Especially for SEO marketing, as you can craft the majority of your own optimized hyper text links. check out on press release formats, I have been having good success with prnewswire on modern tricks!