Press Release Assignment
It is important to establish credibility to help audiences accept your messages. With this in mind, please write a press release (see pp. 235-6 in Chapter 8) regarding your imaginary company’s new acquisition or merger. Incorporate the 7 bullet point characteristics listed on p. 128. Indicate where you are illustrating each bullet point. However your press relief should be in paragraph format.
COMING FOR Excellence in Business Communication. (2014). Thill & Bovée, Eleventh Edition
- Honesty. Demonstrating honesty and integrity will earn you the respect of your audiences, even if they don’t always agree with or welcome your messages.
- Objectivity. Show that you can distance yourself from emotional situations and look at all sides of an issue.
- Awareness of audience needs. Directly or indirectly, let your audience members know that you understand what’s important to them.
- Credentials, knowledge, and expertise. Audiences need to know that you have whatever it takes to back up your message, whether it’s education, professional certification, special training, past successes, or simply the fact that you’ve done your research.
- Endorsements. An endorsement is a statement on your behalf by someone who is accepted by your audience as an expert.
- Performance. Demonstrating impressive communication skills is not enough; people need to know they can count on you to get the job done.
- Sincerity. When you offer praise, don’t use hyperbole, such as “you are the most fantastic employee I could ever imagine.” Instead, point out specific qualities that warrant praise.
Some routine informative messages may require additional care. For instance, policy statements or procedural changes may be good news for a company, perhaps by saving money. However, it may not be obvious to employees that such savings may make additional employee resources available or even lead to pay raises. In instances in which the reader may not initially view the information positively, use the body of the message to highlight the potential benefits from the reader’s perspective. (For situations in which negative news will have a profound effect on the recipients, consider the indirect techniques discussed in Chapter 9.)
Announcing Good News
To develop and maintain good relationships, smart companies recognize that it’s good business to spread the word about positive developments. Such developments can include opening new facilities, hiring a new executive, introducing new products or services, or sponsoring community events. Because good news is always welcome, use the direct approach.
A news release, or press release is a message (usually routine, but not always) designed to share information with the news media, although many are now written with customers and other stakeholders in mind as well.
Good-news announcements are often communicated in a news release, also known as apress release, a specialized document used to share relevant information with the news media. (News releases are also used to announce negative news, such as plant closings.) In most companies, news releases are usually prepared or at least supervised by specially trained writers in the public relations department. The content follows the customary pattern for a positive message: good news followed by details and a positive close. However, traditional news releases have a critical difference: You’re not writing directly to the ultimate audience (such as the readers of a newspaper); you’re trying to interest an editor or a reporter in a story, and that person will then write the material that is eventually read by the larger audience. To write a successful news release, keep the following points in mind:3
- Above all else, make sure your information is newsworthy and relevant to the specific publications or websites to which you are sending it.
- Focus on one subject; don’t try to pack a single news release with multiple, unrelated news items.
- Put your most important idea first. Don’t force editors to hunt for the news.
- Be brief: Break up long sentences and keep paragraphs short.
- Eliminate clutter, such as redundancy and extraneous facts.
- Be as specific as possible.
- Minimize self-congratulatory adjectives and adverbs; if the content of your message is newsworthy, the media professionals will be interested in the news on its own merits.
- Follow established industry conventions for style, punctuation, and format.
Until recently, news releases were crafted in a way to provide information to reporters, who would then write their own articles if the subject matter was interesting to their readers. Thanks to the Internet and social media, however, the nature of the news release is changing. Many companies now view it as a general-purpose tool for communicating directly with customers and other audiences, creating direct-to-consumer news releases. As media expert David Meerman Scott puts it, “Millions of people read press releases directly, unfiltered by the media. You need to be speaking directly to them.”4
The newest twist on news releases is the social media release, which has several advantages over the traditional release (see Figure 8.7). First, the social media release emphasizes bullet-point content over narrative paragraphs so that bloggers, editors, and others can assemble their own stories, rather than having to rewrite the material in a traditional release. Second, as an electronic-only document (a specialized webpage, essentially), the social media release offers the ability to include videos and other multimedia elements. Third, social sharing buttons make it easy for people to help publicize the content.5
The social media release includes share-ready content that is easy to reuse in blog posts, tweets, and other social media formats.
All business messages should be written with an eye toward fostering positive relationships with audiences, but some messages are written specifically to build goodwill. You can use these messages to enhance your relationships with customers, colleagues, and other businesspeople by sending friendly, even unexpected, notes with no direct business purpose. Whether you’re thanking an employee for a job well done or congratulating a colleague for a personal or professional achievement, the small effort to send a goodwill message can have a positive and lasting effect on the people around you.
Goodwill is the positive feeling that encourages people to maintain a business relationship.
In addition to creating messages for a specific goodwill reason, you can craft almost any routine message in a way to build goodwill. Two ways to do so are by providing information your readers might find helpful and by using the content and tone of your message to provide an element of entertainment. For example, if you send monthly billing statements to customers, you can include tips on how to save money by using your products in a more efficient manner.
Many routine messages can be adapted to foster goodwill, either by sharing helpful information or providing an element of entertainment.
Using routine messages to entertain customers can be a good way to build goodwill, but it must be done effectively and only when appropriate.
Using routine messages to entertain customers can be an effective goodwill builder if it is done well and doesn’t detract from the primary purpose of the message. One of the best-known examples is the shipping notification email message that online music retailer CDBaby sends its customers. Company founder Derek Sivers says the original routine message (“Your order has shipped today. Please let us know if it doesn’t arrive. Thank you for your business.”) didn’t fit his mission to “make people smile.” Sivers replaced that short, serious message with a comically over-the-top message that starts with “Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow” and continues with such lines as “Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the best gold-lined box that money can buy.” The message was a hit with customers, who forwarded it to friends and posted it online, which led to thousands of new customers for the young company.6