Dec 06, 2013

A News Release for Media …. And Enthusiasts

ContentWeLoveI grew up driving an old Ford Mustang (a ’64 ½ convertible, to be exact) and simply put, I love those cars.  So any press release from Ford about the pony car is bound to get my attention.  I’m an enthusiast.

As I was scanning the wires this week, I spotted the announcement from Ford about the new designs and other innovations debuting for the Mustang, just in time for the 50th anniversary of this iconic car.

Be still my heart, they’ve  brought back the fastback. 

It. Is. So. Pretty.

It. Is. So. Pretty.

While the pictures in the press release made me swoon a bit (Dear Santa, I want a pony.  I mean, pony car …) the treatment of the press release by Ford got the attention of my practical side.  It is beautifully constructed to convey key messages to journalists, and to feed the interest of bloggers and enthusiasts. lil tweet

Let’s break it down.

The headline, “Ford Mustang Marks 50 Years with All-New Sleek Design, Innovative Technologies and World-Class Performance,” doesn’t beat around the bush – it tells what’s to follow, and stands alone.  No subhead required.

The lead comprises three bullet points, and is built for busy journalist.  It cuts straight to the key messages in the press release, and the bullet point treatment surfaces those messages easily for readers who are quickly scanning the copy.

And then there are the pictures, which had a galvanizing effect on this enthusiast.  These are not staid PR shots.  The stills treat the Mustang like a piece of sculpture, a nice juxtaposition to the picture of the car on the road, in which you can almost hear the growl of the 420-horse V8 (at least I can.)

One message, multiple audiences 

I thought the treatment of the quote and descriptions in the release were particularly deft.  It’s here that the company’s ability to balance delivering information to news media and juicy tidbits to the blogger and enthusiast crowd are on display.

As the reader works their way through the release, the tone changes from stringently factual to more descriptive and relatable.  Journalists working on deadline can easily find the facts and stats they need toward the top of the page.  After that, the company is speaking to the driver.

One question I get a lot is whether it’s a good idea to create multiple versions of a press release for different audiences.  With very, very few exceptions, my answer has always been “No.”   I advise the approach Ford has taken – write the press release with your primary goal in mind, and then cater to any secondary goals later in the message.  This release is about the media first, and the driver second, and it delivers the goods for both.

Distribution is still important to reach media, and your publics

A representative from another US car company told me about some unexpected results they garnered from a couple multimedia press releases they issued via PR Newswire at the beginning of this year, to support two important new models at the North American International Auto Show.   The company had booked dozens of interviews via a satellite media tour, but they also packaged MP4 video of the new models in the multimedia press releases.  Numerous media outlets picked up and ran that video, delivering extra value for the company.

“With the MNR we gained exposure to a rather large audience, and it was a separate audience,” our contact (who asked to remain anonymous) told us.  “Our message reached new people from viral pick up and viewer sharing. We were looking for additional eyeballs, and that’s where we succeeded with the MNR.”

Even as organizations build media relationships and cultivate social followings, distribution of messages beyond those groups is necessary, in order to continually build new audiences and earn media (and attention) for brand messages.

Press releases – and newswire services – are still important tools in the new school covercommunicator’s arsenal.  That said, they both work better when the organizations issuing press releases make a point of developing the sort of interesting, visual and interactive content audiences appreciate today.  I’ve written an ebook detailing new approaches to press releases that are generating results, and it includes real-life examples and tips.  Here’s the link: New School PR Tactics  .

So kudos to the Ford team this week, on creating a message that resonates with professional media as well as Mustang fans.  (And thanks for bringing back the fastback!)

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the newly-published ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

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