By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.hotelmogel.com)
Being a staff writer for several publications and a member of most travel writer associations with a highly visible email address, I’m the recipient of dozens of media releases per day. If ever I leave my cell phone at home for longer than half a day, my inbox is bombard by over a hundred of these ‘important news bulletins’, all of them ‘urgently’ awaiting my attention.
While I’m annoyed to be receiving so many of these – most of them are irrelevant and more like spam, even though I am a business recipient and not a general consumer – what frustrates me more is how ineffectual they are in getting the message across.
To answer the question of the title, in this day and age of rich visual media, tweeting and attention spans in the milliseconds, I highly doubt that a press release longer than one or two well-honed sentences will have any impact on the average traveler. Their eyes just glaze over and it’s on to the next innocuous puppy video.
Are Press Releases Out of Touch?
For one, the length of a press release shows how out of touch this medium is with the times. Keep it simple; keep it short.
Next, there’s the ‘boy who cried wolf’ notion at play here. That is, when everything is crucial or ‘for immediate release’ then nothing ends up resonating as truly indispensable.
Third, many of these releases are bogged down by chunky paragraphs foaming over with boilerplate. Like the first point, a contemporary press release must cut to the chase. If media representatives are enticed enough to want more information, they’ll ask. And if prospective guests are enticed enough to want more information, they’ll call you and most likely book!
So tell your PR team and agencies to stop wasting your money on drivel. You don’t need a release for every new assistant executive who joins your team followed by six more paragraphs as support with fake quotes from other senior managers. Nor should you be compelled to announce that your property just won some dubious buy-an-ad-and-get-an-award distinction, again trailed by an obscene quantity of puffery about your hotel.
I implore you to look at what has been sent on your property’s behalf over the past year and assess what actually has substance. Ideally you want brevity, personality and relevancy.
Tips for a Modern PR
Moving forward, any releases that’s aimed at members of the press – that is, those who actually have the time to read your work – should start with a personalized address within the email to get the recipient’s attention.
Then use no more than a couple paragraphs to state the essentials and their importance. Below this core story, give an email and phone number for contact information as well as a PDF attachment of the full release.
While there is no value in a release unless it gets published, what should also be taken into consideration is how you follow-up with any media who have been earmarked as highly relevant for this particular news item. Are you phoning these individuals? What process do you have in place to reach out to see what types of stories these media companies want?
While people aren’t as avid these days to read, a good way to get their attention is through imagery. Releases about an individual must contain a profile picture. Ditto for events or anything F&B related, all of which can help to draw the eyes.
Start with a Catchy Headline
While I may be implying that you deemphasize the words in your release, the one aspect that you can never overlook is your headline. This is the most important part of your release because it may be all that a viewer reads before hitting the delete button.
Hence, something with a sense of mystery, a question or even a witticism will help to get more eyeballs onto your actual release. If it’s too robotic, it won’t get any clicks. Following a headline brainstorm, you might even want to A/B test different lines to gauge the differential response.
Ultimately, your focus should be on quality rather than quantity. Remember, there is no reward for the distribution, only for media pick-up and direct travel inquiries, so aim to set a new bar and more often than not, less truly is more.
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Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.