Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Get your press releases up to scratch

I was forwarded some information on an intriguing application recently - Hubspot's Press Release Grader.

(hat-tip @mikeashworth) "A friend of mine has developed a tool which evaluates your press release and provides a marketing effectiveness score. This score is based upon basic factors from public relations experts including the language and content of the release, plus advanced factors from Internet marketing experts such as links and search engine optimisation characteristics."

Sounded interesting, but the email sat in my inbox for a few days until I had a chance to write something appropriate (conveniently, I was then asked for something on Go4Fresh's launch to go out to the wider vending and retailing community)

Now, I don't pretend to be an expert copywriter, or indeed, a PR guru, but my experience in marketing has given me an insight into what my target audience is likely to want to see, and in my opinion, the chance that a PR expert is going to know about MY skill, product or service as well as I do is slight, so I am better placed to draft or write the initial release at least. However, since I don't do this every day, it is still a case of learning as you go as to how to construct a press / news release.

So, I duly wrote about 250 words and structured the document as I would for a news release, conforming to expected formats for contact and the level of technical detail. I was happy with it, and without the grader application intervention, I would probably have sent it on for release as it was.

The application is really simple to use, intuitive and helpful - a good start.

It assumes no technical knowledge or PR expertise (so probably will bother PR professionals - though I think that gaining an understanding of how an expert does something helps you to better engage their services; there's only a minority who would want to take it all on and cut the expert out)

The fully-automated report takes moments to come back with a decently organised and well-structured report on your release. I was shocked that I only achieved 32/100 on my first pass, but easily fixable things including; slightly too few words (I needed over 250), I'd missed off some contact details (easily done!) and a slight restructure to provide the information in a better hierarchy, quickly gave me a more respectable 60/100.

The great thing for me (apart from the service being free at the moment) is that it provides a great opportunity to have someone else (something else?) proof-read the document without fear of them rewriting it totally. It is very easy to miss something obvious, or to forget to structure in a certain way.

It is very online-savvy, so helps to create releases that are social media friendly and, if I were using a PR agency, they would now be getting something from me that is virtually ready for them to distribute and work on immediately..

I suppose the only downside is that there is a danger that releases could start to look too similar if all were parsed through this software?

But that's a way off, so try it for yourself (whilst I go and try to eke out another 30 points at least before I distribute it), let me know what you think.

1 comment:

Georgina Firth said...

An interesting find, and very useful for non PROs to gain some insight to a trade that can STILL sometimes be labelled as 'fluff'. PR is a serious business and certainly not for the faint hearted. Read more here: http://brainstormhour.blogspot.com/

What I'd really like to see is a US version of the Press Release Grader. News release formats are completely different each side of the pond and can be tricky to communicate that one version simply doesn't fit all. It'd be very handy to have this 'quantification' tool available to demonstrate the differences.

I'll be after my 20% commission if they do it of course!