The press release remains an invaluable marketing tool for corporates and startups to spread media awareness, even in the interconnected age of social media and Twitter. However, it is becoming increasingly more competitive to win over journalists, who are inundated with hundreds of PR emails every week. To truly stand out and rise above the pack, companies must enhance their press releases by approaching them through the lens of a storyteller. This article will share a few tips in how this can be done.
by Jason Beever
It used to be that companies would rely on a journalist’s touch to heighten the excitement, interest and curiosity of a press release. After all, journalists are trained to bring out the story in any news event; corporates and marketers are typically not. This lackadaisical approach to media relations, however, is no longer sustainable in today’s story-hungry market. Boring data, research, and bullet points of features will not win over hearts—but an emotionally intriguing narrative most certainly will.
Frame It From The Audience’s Perspective
The surest way to invoke curiosity and interest is to frame your press release from the POV of your audience. Remember, it matters far less what your company means to you compared to what it can mean for the consumer. Reframing your approach to the material in this way helps avoid self-absorbed messaging, but it is also a useful exercise in placing yourself in the shoes of your audience, getting a feel for how they view the world, what motivates their actions, and what solutions they desperately need in their lives.
Creating an emotional connection should be the supreme objective of any press release. When a strong message triggers something emotionally relatable in a customer, their attention is now laser-focused on what you have to say. They will also be much more receptive and motivated to follow through with the intent of your campaign. In order to create this empathetic connection, you must first get to know your customer on a core level.
The Most Important Questions: Who & Why?
Now that you’re framing your press release from the audience’s perspective, your first order of business is to imagine why your message matters to them. Why should they care? By investigating the needs of your target audience, you will arrive at the proper answer.
We’re all familiar with the “five w’s” of every great news story: Who, What, When, Where and Why? While this is an effective framework for conveying essential information, for the purposes of storytelling there are two paramount questions to ask: Who and Why? These relate to the key components of story design: character and desire.
Who is the ideal customer you’re attempting to reach? What sort of environment do they live in? What’s their social standing? What industries are they a part of?
Digging deeper, ask: What new status do they intensely desire to achieve? Why is it so important to achieve it? And finally: What force is preventing them from achieving that desire?
This psychological and emotional information is extremely powerful. Once you’ve gained an understanding of what a person truly wants, why they want it, and what it would mean for them to win or lose it, you now possess the ingredients to a potent spell that can influence behavior and action straight from the heart.
Develop a Story Arc
To really cause waves with your press release, consider outlining it within the classical structure of the hero’s journey.
In the case of a product launch, you’ll want to introduce the major dramatic tension of how the lack of this product is causing pain and frustration in the life of your hero, the consumer. This emotional catalyst sets the hero off on a journey to obtain the object of desire, which in this case is your product. By successfully obtaining your product, their lives undergo a positive transformation. (We want a happy ending, of course.)
The reason this formula works so well, whether for movies or for marketing, is that audiences see themselves in the hero and relate to his struggle. This empathetic response creates a mirrored connection between character and consumer, which is why it’s so important to clearly define your target audience and understand what will most affect them emotionally.
For a more comprehensive look at the structure of the hero’s journey, read our previous article on the topic.
When the right character, desire, conflict and transformation are presented to the appropriate audience, your press release becomes so much more than a by-the-numbers corporate message. It is meaningful journalism that enriches people’s lives. Although this was a bird’s eye view of storytelling tactics, it’s clear to see how even simple adjustments to your press release writing can completely change the intent and value of what you share with journalists. By thinking like a storyteller, your corporate or startup will surely win the hearts of both press and consumers alike.
THE NEXT STEP:
Using storytelling techniques with your press release can help bring added media attention to your story, but only if you can guarantee your press release actually reach your media targets. To gain earned media, it’s imperative that your press releases reach the right journalists, editors and media outlets. Faselis Growth get your news directly into the “in-box” of just the right selection of reporters, editors and content curators. Only by assuring these people receive and read your content can you expect to gain the advantage of earned media coverage through trusted editorial sources, and Faselis offers a variety of options to create personalized, trackable media lists to reach just the right group media outlets.