HAIKU TO YOU – NEWS RELEASES TAKE NEW FORM

When Google acquired Zagat the PR team released the news via a rhyming haiku on Twitter as well as what some called a “clever” news release through traditional wire services.

Finally!

I have long had a sign in my office that says “Media are people too” (a gift from my staff who was ribbing me for how often I repeated that phrase) and it is high time that PR communicators and marketers present exciting news in an exciting way.

There are still many, many news releases going out that are small type, no visuals with predictable and boring content. If you were a journalist which would catch your eye?

For 25 years my agency has conducted a survey of journalists asking “what gets your attention?”. From fun inserts (the response to these was 60/40 in favor) to photography with just a descriptive cut line (even before the days of YouTube) it was obvious that to gain news coverage you had to first gain the attention of the journalist. Sometimes fun was just the right packaging and sometimes a picture spoke a thousand words.

Years ago my agency distributed bright orange plastic carrots that had been covered in silver glitter for a soiree in Miami hosted by our client DeBeers diamonds – the “karats” were meant to demonstrate that this event was going to be worth attending and the RSVP’s were off the charts. Another time we delivered live goldfish for a major seafood restaurant client, in an elegant etched fishbowl, complete with custom died gravel and fish food to assure they were well cared for.

Always the new release is emblematic of the news, we follow the AP style and put the news first, even if it is less than favorable and not buried in the hopes it won’t be uncovered. In our media surveys this was a pet peeve “tell us your news, honestly and upfront” – an oft repeated comment in the two decades we have conducted the survey. Little has changed – whether Twitter, Facebook or traditional sources are the recipients it needs to be clear, quick and newsworthy.

The haiku the Google team wrote when they acquired Zagat, the restaurant ratings guide company, went like this:

“Delightful deal done; Zagat and Google now one; foodies have more fun!”

Even the news release got in the news – that is outstanding public relations and effective communicating. Now I’m off to ‘Google’ a good restaurant for dinner tonight….

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