Want to blast through the clutter in a reporter’s email inbox?
Try writing a press release without the “arcane financials and canned quotes,” says The New York Times
The paper’s DealBook blog
says several companies—including Google and Groupon—have broken news recently using alternatives to the staid release.
“When Google announced its acquisition of the restaurant ratings guide Zagat on Thursday, the Internet company posted a blog item that read, ‘Google Just Got Zagat-Rated!’ Zagat told visitors to its website about the sale via a mock review of Google, assessing the search engine giant using its 30-point system and quote-heavy style. Google got high marks in all four categories.”
Groupon, meanwhile, issued a press release this year that said it had raised “like, a billion dollars” in its latest round of financing. DealBook
“The offbeat press release has its advantages. In some cases, it can help businesses cut through the clutter in reporters’ inboxes and earn plaudits for creativity.
“‘The old news release format died a couple of years ago, and business can now reach audiences directly, without babble or corporate-speak,’ said Jeff Domansky, public relations consultant and editor of the PR Coach blog.”
Of course, PR Daily
readers know that eschewing the typical press release format is nothing new. Companies, particularly Silicon Valley startups, have being doing it for years. Here are five examples of offbeat press releases.
The ‘Holy Crap’ announcement.
When Amazon acquired the e-commerce company Woot.com, the company issued a press release
under the headline: “BREAKING: Woot To Be Acquired By Amazon, Then Left To Amuse Ourselves.” It said:
“Holy crap! Woot has signed an agreement with Amazon—yes, the Amazon—to become an independent subsidiary of the ecommerce colossus. Woot HQ will remain in Carrollton, Texas, and will operate as autonomously as other Amazon companies like Zappos and Audible. More details forthcoming after we pick our eyeballs up off of the floor. Anybody see where Lefty rolled off to?”
The celebrity-authored press release.
In April, a press release
for an obscure instrumental band called Delicate Steve hit the wire. At 1,400 words, it seemed destined for journalists’ trash bins, until they saw the unlikely headline—“The critics unilaterally concur: Delicate Steve is a band who creates music”—and the author, journalist, and noted author Chuck Klosterman. The release caught the attention of music journalists, including those at NPR, who featured it in a segment. The release was the brainchild of Luaka Bop record label exec Yale Evelev, who saw it as an unconventional route to drum up interest in an unconventional band. You can read all 1,400 words of it here
Groupon’s “yawn-inducing” press release.
What do you do when you want to write something witty, but the Securities and Exchange Commission won’t allow it? That’s the question Groupon faced when it announced its IPO June. The company, known for employing comedy writers
, used its trademark irreverence to introduce the release
on its blog. To wit
“Groupon has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with regard to a proposed initial public offering. What this means is that we can’t say anything beyond what’s in our yawn-inducing press release below. Kudos to you for even reading this far, but seriously, thank you for caring about Groupon.”
You can read the actual press release here
, but it is yawn-inducing.
The April Fool’s Day press release.
On April 1, 2008, Tribune Co. issued a press release saying it would rename itself ZellCoMediaEnterprises. It was an April Fool’s Day gag that sparked a write-up in The Wall Street Journal
. That wasn’t the only time Tribune Co. issued a wacky press release. Another Tribune press release from 2008 announcing the hiring of Marc Chase as president of Tribune Interactive said:
“Another freaking Clear Channel Communications executive on the payroll and this one’s been named President of Tribune Interactive … Last December, Zell hired Michaels—who helped Zell to build Clear Channel into a radio behemoth that he could then sell—to oversee Tribune’s broadcast and Internet divisions. It is obvious Michaels has lost his mind with this hire.”
Michaels, it should be noted, resigned as CEO from Tribune Co. last fall when the company’s board of directors lost confidence in him
, in part due to a bombshell New York Times story
about the company’s management style—and its lingering bankruptcy.
Behold, the most amazing press release ever written.
Or says its author, Chicago-based PR pro Mitch Delaplane, who issued a press release with that headline announcing that what you were reading was, in fact, the greatest of all time. The tongue-in-cheek effort sparked coverage across the Web, but drew criticism from some industry peers. You can read the full thing here