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As Evolven’s marketing director since 2010, I directed all phases of both the creative and technical elements of marketing initiatives including event planning and organization, brand creation, print/Web collateral development, channel partner cultivation, lead generation, as well as running webinars.

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12.17.2011

Using Humor to Getting Your Press Releases Noticed

 

The press release has become ubiquitous. With the advent of paid and free press release distribution services, the wizardry of distributing press releases no longer remains in the sacred hands of PR agencies. With this the template for the press release has also become a widespread, recognizable phenomena.

Unfortunately, due to the press release structure and recognizable appearance with a few descriptive paragraphs, a couple quotes, the date and city of distribution, press releases have come to look so much a like that they actually accomplish the opposite of their essential function - to promote.

David Meerman Scott has noted how language has made press releases effectively invisible in his famous Gobbledygook Manifesto. He noted how specific words and phrases (buzzwords and catch-phrases) have become so prevalent in the composition of press releases that have undermined the communication  effectiveness.

Is the Press Release Dead?
The press release has gone through some transformations, especially with the advent of the digital age. Originally the purpose of the press release was focused on getting the attention of, well, the press. Now with internet marketing and the mysteries of SEM (Search Engine Marketing), the wide distribution of press releases across the web is not necessarily focused on getting picked up by a reporter. Rather the press releases wide presence across directories and news portals serves as a tangential support for increasing the visibility of a brand and main website.

How to Stand Out in the Crowd?
So how can you stand out in the crowd when you want to promote your company/product/service? The PR Daily in their article "5 examples of offbeat press releases" featured some exciting and offbeat approaches that have been getting attention, that inject new energy and creativity into the artform of press release writing. This inspired me to compile a list of some cool ideas to help your press release stand out from the crowd. This isn't meant to replace your entire press release program, so use with caution. These techniques should be saved for very special occasions, when you need to really blow them away and get a lot of press, fast.

#1 Be Irreverent
When Woot was bought by Amazon, the management at Woot started their press release off with 'Holy Crap!'
See the article:  http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/5_examples_of_offbeat_press_releases__9484.aspx

#2 April Fools (All Year)
Take advantage of April's Fools and produce an announcement that is truly too big to be true.
Check it out:  http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120706535760680587.html

#3 Straight Talk
Make fun of the absurdity of the press release phenomena!
Yes press releases are so common and identifiable, so this is a good opportunity for some self effacing humor.
See this: http://blog.ragan.com/prjunkie/2011/01/did_this_pr_pro_write_the_most.html

#4 The Irony of Nothing
Taking inspiration from the spirit of Seinfeld (a show about nothing), announcing that nothing has changed can be a twist on the usual press release (which in many instances are really announcing nothing).
See what I mean: http://www.finalternatives.com/node/3860

#5 Haiku

Google even took stab at standing out with a press release written entirely in Haiku
See it here: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/new-form-press-release-in-blog-tweet-and-haiku/



#6 Tweet it on Twitter
Hubspot took the press release in a new direction using Twitter:
http://www.4greenps.com/blog-/bid/64129/HubSpot-Reinvents-the-Press-Release-The-Twitter-News-Release








#7 Infographics
The Infographic has become the new must-have tool in the marketing treasure chest. They are still new, fresh and exciting that an infographic adds a lot to conveying information and making an impression. No software (like what PowerPoint did to presentations) has come along to standardize the look of infographics. This makes the infographic media a great vehicle for delivering press releases. The PR Daily outlined  why  infographics are so effective, and why to consider doing a press release in the infographic style. One of the main points they noted was:
"Infographics stand out from traditional press releases. Reporters are bombarded with press releases all day long. Most of them look and sound the exact same. By sending an infographic rather than a traditional press release, you give yourself a much better chance of standing out and capturing the reporter’s attention." 

#8 Zombies!
The Center for Disease Control, an organization not immediately associated with the concept of hip, got a lot of attention with their release of a guide for dealing with Zombies in Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse. While this is a blog post, it definitely forms the basis of interesting and offbeat press release material. What makes this stand out? The CDC took the unexpected approach. A serious organization focused on the mundane process of protecting the greater population from known and new forms of diseases, essentially bacteria-sized contagians, put a new 'face' to their effort. Zombies have a strong visual association in our culture, are immediately recognizable and due to the sharp contrast of the traditional nature of the CDC, this becomes a story in itself. This becomes a press release to read and turned into a bigger story.

Inspiration
So you need some inspiration for writing in an irreverent fashion. One great place I looked at was http://www.satirewire.com. Another excellent location to get your creative juices going in different directions is The Onion.

The PR Daily proposes some more unusual ideas to pump some creativity into your press releases, so look these up: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/5_unusual_ideas_to_make_your_next_press_release_po_8856.aspx

Your Turn!
What cool twists have you applied to get your news noticed?

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