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Transform Your News Release: Before & After (Example 1)

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November 24,2010

By Jerry Brown, APR

Below you will find an actual news release (“before”) altered to protect the identity of the issuer. The “after” example includes my rewrites, along with my reasons for them.

Before
DENVER – XYZ Systems Inc., a leading developer of integrated, rapidly deployable workflow and document management solutions, today announced its strategic alliance with Hyperbolic Technology Corporation (HTC) and its participation in HTC’s Dynamic Software Partner (DSP) program.

Comments
This lead follows a form that gets used a lot: Name of company / descriptor claiming company is “the leading” something / “today announced that” / conclude with the “news” of the release, often in terms only the company issuing the release cares about. This “template” is a formula for not making news for several reasons:

-- It’s all about “me” the storyteller, not “me” the audience. This lead has six references to the companies issuing the release without giving any reason for anyone else to care. Too self-focused.

-- Do you know what they’re talking about? Me, neither.

-- The phrase “today announced that” is unnecessary; your news release is your announcement. Worse yet it’s static and boring. Skip this phrase and put some action in your lead.

-- A lot of companies start every news release with this formula. They don’t even start writing anything new until they get past the phrase “today announced that.” That’s a formula for being boring.

After
DENVER – Two leading technology companies have joined forces to help software engineers easily find, track and manage all the information they need for complex projects.

The lack of good information-management tools is the number one complaint software engineers have about...

XYZ Systems Inc. and Hyperbolic Technology Corporation have formed a strategic alliance to...

Rationale

The lead identifies the audience (software engineers) who will be interested in this story and the problem being solved (helping them find, track and manage information). Reporters who write for this audience will be interested because their audience will be interested.

The second (nut) paragraph quantifies the problem by noting that this story addresses “the number one complaint” of the target audience has when it comes to this issue. It confirms that the audience really cares about the issue, increasing the likelihood this release will be used.

Now it’s time to mention the companies issuing the release and provide background on what they’re doing to help software engineers.

The “before” version mentions the names of the companies issuing the release at the beginning of the lead, the “after” version makes first mention of them in the third paragraph. If your objective is to mention yourself in the lead of your own news release, go with the before version. If your objective is to generate news stories about what you’re doing to help software engineers so they might buy your product, go with the “after” version.

I didn’t use the word “today” or the phrase “today announced that” in the lead. Unless the time element is relevant to your story, you don’t need to put it into your lead. The news release is dated. That’s the “today” of your release. And the release is your announcement. You don’t have to announce you announced whatever it is that you’re announcing. Just tell us what it is.

During 20 years as a journalist, Jerry Brown has worked for The Associated Press (he was assignment editor for AP’s Washington bureau during Watergate); daily newspapers in Little Rock, Fort Worth and Denver; the U.S. Information Agency; and two trade publications. Jerry is an accredited member (APR) of the Public Relations Society of America and a former board member of PRSA’s Colorado chapter. You can contact Jerry at jerry@JerryBrownPR.com or visit his Web site at pr-impact.com.

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