5 Lessons to Learn from the World’s Worst Press Release

office moving boxesThe headline and the article below are so bad that you might think it’s a spoof published by the satirical website, The Onion.   But, no such luck! Happily, we can learn from it. I have changed details to protect the perpetrators.

ACME PRIVATE BANK MOVES TO SEVENTH FLOOR

Acme Bank has relocated the Private Bank, a division of Acme Bank, to the eighth floor of the affiliate’s headquarters at 234 Oak Street, in Cleveland, Ohio. Previously, the bank’s operations were conducted on the building’s second floor. This strategic move will streamline the services into one location, exclusively dedicated to serving the top one percent of Acme customers.

This is a marvelous example of learning how to succeed by pretty much doing the opposite of everything in this press release.

Here are 5 lessons to learn:

1.    Provide a clear benefit in the headline. “Acme private bank moved to 7th floor” leaves us completely clueless about what’s in it for us as readers–or as potential customers.
2.    Make it obvious in the copy that there is a benefit to your readers. We would have to work pretty hard to figure out why a move from one floor to another–even if it’s a higher floor–would provide a significant benefit.
3.    Don’t put out a press release that is completely lacking in news value. If are an important bank like Acme and local news outlets actually pick up your release, your prospects, customers, and competitors will be rolling their eyes at your newsless release.  Everyone is left wondering whether the bank itself is as clueless as the press release suggests.
4.    Don’t diminish your brand value with a news-free press release. If you have a very important niche, such as private banking, this sort of lame press release effectively minimizes the importance of that niche.
5.    Even when there is not a tremendous amount of news value, at least find some kind of news hook. For example, they might have noted that there were special lounge areas, a great view of the lake, twice as many private bankers, etc., etc. Instead, they simply said that the new 7th floor location would be “exclusively dedicated to serving the top 1% of Acme customers.”

Writing a great press release is not rocket science.  The key is to think of it not as a  ‘press’ release, but as a ‘news’ release.  Even if there isn’t a gigantic underlying news story, you can certainly find some kind of news hook and reader benefit that makes your company or your client meaningfully newsworthy.

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