AVPhenom Press Release Wrap-Up: Karate Kid Style

Any of you following my Press Release Challenge may wonder what lessons we can learn from the rewrites I attempted over the past couple weeks. One thing I learned was that writing press releases isn’t easy. However there are some very common themes into how to make your message more effective when putting one out. I am leaning on my favorite movie from childhood, The Karate Kid, to help explain.

wax on1) If it’s complicated, break it down. Mr. Miyagi knew that telling someone to move their arm in a brisk, circular, clockwise motion, stopping when the hand reaches 12 o’clock was much harder than telling them to go “Wash the car.” The man knew how to break it down. In my first (and I’d argue best) rewrite, I took on Crestron’s Air Media release.  The original release was OK. It shared some info, but it didn’t go far enough to break the product down into small digestible chunks. The success of my rewrite really was in taking the info and rearranging it into small subsections of features, and then taking those pieces and making them relevant, which leads to tip 2.

relevant2) Make it relevant.  Breaking it down is not enough. You can break down karate into washing cars, sanding floors and painting fences and houses all you want, but if you don’t at some point tell your pupils “why,” they will leave frustrated like a kid from Reseda. The Crestron release became stronger by adding some relevance to the customers, being both the integrator and the end user. Relaying the advantages, (no saw cutting, less dongles, less complicated matrix switching, cross platform usability), to each feature really goes a long way to make the product stick in the customer’s mind. I used this same strategy in the Draper release, setting the stage for the product by opening with a statement about the wide need for the video conferencing backdrops themselves.

warm it up3) If it’s worn out, warm it up. At the end of the day, your audience may be a little worn out from all their daily activity.  In these cases, when you want to relate a simple message, slap your hands together, rub them quickly, and then apply some healing warmth to your copy. With the Draper release, we were discussing a very simple product. It’s hard to get lost in speeds and feeds on a drop down piece of fabric. However that piece of fabric has a huge market, and is a great product. Just because it’s not complicated doesn’t mean its not newsworthy.  The best thing to do, beyond making the product relevant to real world problems, is to spice it up a little. You can have fun and be creative with these and not risk complicating the product, or diving into irrelevant details to meet a word count.

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short and sweet4) Short and Sweet. These two make a perfect team, just like the vertically challenged Miyagi and the saccharine infused hero LaRusso. Press releases should typically be between 300 and 500 words. The main point is to communicate enough information to get a reporter to do a full story on the product or for the customer who may read it to call or click to learn more details. It is not a whitepaper or a spec sheet. Communicate relevance first, back that up with supporting features, and then give a brief technical description if so inclined. The release I admittedly had more trouble with was the Cisco TelePresence piece. It was over 1,500 words long, and 2/3rds of the content had to be cut to get it to length. This was made more difficult as it lacked some focus, which leads to point 5.



5) Focus Daniel-Son. Daniel LaRusso was so intent on learning to punch he tried to rush through proper technique, ultimately getting himself thrown to the ground by a small Asian handyman. It is exciting when we invent new things or break new ground, I get it. However me need to make sure we don’t let that excitement override our better judgement.  We need to have the discipline to focus our releases for maximum impact. This was the biggest problem with the Cisco release. It should have been three releases (I thought about breaking it into three releases, but thought you readers out there would call shenanigans so I just wrote one 500 word version including all the info). The Cisco release tried to announce and give details on four new products. This is just too much. Even if you restrain yourself and give each one a glancing treatment that relates relevance and one or two features, (like I did), you really end up with a mediocre release that walks the middle of the road and goes “squish just like grape.”

crane kickI hope you enjoyed the exercise as much as I did. I know I learned a thing or two in the process, and I thank everyone who chimed in via the comments, email, and Twitter to give some nominations. Hopefully the five tips above give some guidelines to those of you charged with writing releases that can give us as an industry maximum effect to drive sales like a Crane kick to Johnny Lawrence’s pretty little nose.

Need to be more inspired?  Click here and enjoy some Joe Esposito.

Mark C