Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Writing Your First "Small Business" Press Release

What's a Press Release?
Think of it as an advertisement for your business and its new product, but is going to look like a typical column you might read in a newspaper - pure and simple.


How/where do I start?
Take your subject and work out exactly what it is, who'd want to read about it and who will benefit. Now take everything about you out of it - you're about to become the third person. From now on, when you're mentioned, you'll be known as "Joe Bloggs, Director of Blogg's Industries" or just "Bloggs".* 


Today you become a journalist. 
For your press release, you won't be writing the normal sales spiel about how good your company is, how you are the answer to everyone's needs etc., you need to be impartial and honest. This piece has to demonstrate why your company, and its new product, is newsworthy to the public, and the general press. It must excite, it must have an awesome headline and it should look like you cut it out of the local rag.


Your Business
So let's imagine the press release header for an established motorcycle workshop and their latest service offering free chassis alignment and basic suspension setup. 
They're called BikeTech7 Motorcycle Repair and they want to encourage more customers by offering a new service of setting the suspension to the individual rider's weight, and also aligning the bike's geometry correctly. Because of the potential for up-sell, they're offering a completely free service for any pre-booked customers.


Newsworthy?
I think so. They have a great product, with plenty of benefits and, best of all, it's totally free. So... 
  • how does all that go into a press release 300-500 words long? 
  • and how should the press release look? 
  • strewth, how do you even start it - what comes first?
Luckily, there are loads of great websites out there giving ideas on layouts etc., but before we go into the design, let's choose a headline. This needs to be good - no, superb - and is worth spending a lot of time on, but for today I'm simply going to use this:

Gold Coast's BikeTech7 Offers Free Motorcycle Suspension Setup.

Simple, and to the point - eye-catching and enough to intrigue the reader. Anybody with an interest in motorbikes is going to read this whether they take them up on the offer or not.

Let's put it together - a typical Press Release layout.


"BikeTech7"

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
For more information please contact:
Ben Vaughan
Mobile:   +61 0403 210 654


Gold Coast's BikeTech7 Offers Free Motorcycle Suspension Setup.

Safer Riding and Getting the Best from Your Motorcycle.

Gold Coast, Queensland (February 22, 2012) -- With the roads becoming more congested daily, and motorcycles increasing in power and speed every year, it's never been so important to make sure that the bike is set up safely for the actual rider. Manufacturers can carry out basic settings at the factory, but it is down to the individual to ensure that their machine is correctly configured for their weight and riding style.

Owner of BikeTech7, Ben Vaughan, was concerned enough that he's offering a free service to all riders where he will set up your bike for you. With free advice and recommendations, he aims to clear up the somewhat murky details of bike suspension, and how it works.

"Customers are often afraid of adjusting their own motorcycles because they don't fully understand the complex workings of modern suspension."



And there's our start. 
See how the owner is quoted, as if being interviewed, and the main text is written as if by a completely impartial source?
Keep all details to the point and "newsworthy". If it's irrelevant, leave it out. Tell them about the service offered, why it's so good, mention awards won previously etc. and you are on your way to writing a great press release.


Good luck!


Need a Press Release for Your New Product? 
Contact ben@benvaughancopy.com Today.



*Feel free to put your own name in if you don't happen to be called Joe Bloggs:)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Does Perfect Advertising Work... Anyone?

Come On! I'm Struggling Here.


I want to design the perfect advert, that sells to anyone and everyone, no matter where they come from, regardless of their history, ignoring their financial situation, and in spite of their objections... I think you get the idea.

Impossible? Pfft, where do I start? 


The product:
  • I need to be selling something that everybody needs, period
  • It has to work no matter their background, language, or culture
  • And I don't want there to be any price objections whatsoever
That's narrowed down the list. So all I need to do is work through this methodically, as I would any other advertisement. We always think about the benefits and features to make money, but what about the necessities? 

What does everybody need?

A car, computer, calculator, iPod, phone, pen and paper? This list could go on and on, but although they might be necessary items to you and I, a starving child in Africa has no use for any of it... well not until they've been helped with the basics.

So there's a clue, now it's becoming clear what I'm getting at. To be able to make the perfect advertisement, you need to appeal to every person, everywhere. 

Food? 

Every person in the world needs it, from the rich aristocrat, to a long forgotten tribe in South America. But trying to sell expensive caviar to the tribe just isn't going to work. They have no money, probably no idea what it actually is and, perhaps more importantly, no need for caviar.

And Sir Such-and-Such, in his expensive mansion, probably has no desire to give up his caviar in return for a taste of the tribe's pet toilet pig.

No desire to own something makes my ad fall flat on its face. 

Water?

Good old H2O, the universal solvent. As vital as food, in fact more so you might say, but can I sell it? Thousands of companies already do. Natural, fresh, sparkling, mineral, enriched - they have it all. I buy it, occasionally, but only when I don't have access to clean tap water. Price puts me off buying something I can basically get for free - from my tap.

The poor souls that actually need clean drinking water generally rely on the goodwill of others to gain access to it. Yet our society buys a bottle for a few dollars, drinks a little, and then throws it in the back of the car until the realisation that it's "out of date", at which point the rest is tipped back into the ground. A sad world indeed. 


The Perfect Ad!
I'm really up against it now, 
but I won't admit defeat. 
The perfect ad is out there,
and it's going to be quite neat.


Has it clicked yet?

The only thing I can come up with for the perfect advert is fresh AIR.

My ad isn't going to have any words, so I won't have any background, language or culture objections. It'll be a simple drawing of a face.

Everybody needs it to survive, regardless. It'll have simple lines, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling from the mouth.

It's going to be FREE, because it's everywhere; and in this world, seemingly turned by money, that's almost as refreshing as the fresh air itself. It'll have a simple, outstretched hand offering it to you... for nothing.


So there you have it folks. 



Pointless?
  • What did you get from this article? 
  • Are you sorry you read it now? Be honest.
  • Or were you really expecting the definitive answer to every copywriter and advertiser's quest? The perfect ad.


I'm not sorry.


I'm hoping it made you think about other things too. The important things that mean something to everybody, everywhere. Think about these for a moment:
  1. If you've the ability to read this, consider yourself educated - because millions can't. 
  2. If you've the ability to buy food and water, consider yourself rich - because millions can't. 
  3. If you can do all this, and then help those that can't, consider yourself lucky - because millions can't.


Do something good today. Recycle something, give some spare cash to those that could actually benefit, or drink water from a tap today and give the money saved to a charity making clean water possible in other countries.


Thank you, Ben Vaughan.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Get Creative... Fresh Air and Open Spaces.

  • Stuck in the office?
  • Staring at the walls?
  • Imagination all but died?


You Need To Get Outside!

Yeah, I know the boss won't go for it, but the best thing to get the old brain fired into life again is exercise in the fresh air. When you go outside there's new stuff all around you which sparks up the mind and enables you to think clearly.

Release Those Endorphins.


Our body's natural feel-good mechanism is booted into action when we exercise which, usefully, makes you want to do it more often! And do you know what the great thing is? 


While you're outside, there's nothing but good things happening on the inside...
  • Your body's muscles are being worked, and they'll thank you for it
  • Your brain is constantly bombarded by new media all around you
  • You're giving your heart and lungs a much needed workout
  • You could be burning fat while building muscle
  • You're increasing blood and oxygen flow to your brain


So wherever you work, whatever you do, take five and go for a walk at lunchtime. The afternoon might just become the most productive part of your day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Being Duped - Would You Like It?

Artistic Licence, or Outright Lies?


A friend of mine, Davey, was looking to buy a new (to him) car and asked if I'd go along for the ride. No problem, I have a little background with the motor industry and I'm always intrigued with the sales spiel.


So we roll up and start looking around the used car section of a large dealership. This place was very flash and the cars looked extremely well looked after - all good so far. Within a few minutes a guy came up to us and asked if he could help - top marks, although it wasn't long before the bull began to flow. But, as any good salesman should be, Steve, as he now introduced himself, was friendly enough and said his mates called him "Steveo". 


That's nice Steve.


"Yes sir, this particular car was owned by the manufacturer itself for demonstrations only. If anything, it's been over-serviced."


Here we go, I thought, it's been ramped around a race track by technicians during dealer training, but he continued with ever growing confidence.


"Yes, they always go that bit further with their own vehicles, little extras you don't get on the normal cars, you know the sort of thing?"


Is he telling us? Asking us? Hoping we'll be baffled by the quick succession of random sales spiel? Whatever, there was no stopping him now.


"The EGR system on this model actually reduces your fuel consumption, saving you a fortune at the pumps!" oh he was really going for it now, but this was beginning to annoy me, so it was time to butt in.


"Surely the purpose of the EGR system is to reduce Nitrogen Oxide gases, produced in the engine, by recirculating exhaust gases which in turn lowers combustion temperature simply as a means of meeting emissions laws?" 


He stalled. He was caught out and he didn't like it. But Steve had no right to make absurd claims to try and make a sale. Amazingly, he remembered a phone call he had to make and retreated to the safety of the showroom. I wasn't really that bothered with the sales talk because I expected it, but why should we, as customers, have to put up with blatant lies?


What should the copywriter do?


We owe it to the customer to explain the facts fairly and honestly. If the copy is written properly, the genuine benefits will sell the product without resorting to lies - or fraud. If you can't think of one benefit for a product, then either the product is seriously flawed (every product must have a benefit or I doubt it would have been manufactured in the first place), or you're simply not trying hard enough.


If you fabricate lies to sell something, just like Steve did, you'll eventually get caught out. It might take a while, and you might think that the sales you make in the meantime more than make up for it, but when you do, it'll have a serious effect on any future sales. 


Davey didn't buy the car, and he was put off ever going to that dealership again. He's also talked about it with friends who, in turn, talk to their friends. It's all too easy to ruin a good reputation, but extremely difficult to build it back up. I'm sure the dealer principal would agree, and won't be over the moon if he or she ever gets to hear about it.

















Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This Is Serious - Please Read NOW!

You Don't Want To Miss this!


It's come to my attention that certain headlines, in local flyers and adverts, may not have been doing the job intended...

  • They Failed to GRAB the Necessary Attention! 
  • Some were even being described as boring - yes BORING! 
  • Others lacked mystery, excitement, warnings or promises of something special inside.
  • some didn't even have a single capital letter.
  • A cupple even had speelen miztakes.


Why Does This Matter?


Because your business is relying heavily on that one line. That line is going to get your flyer, your sales letter, or even your website content read. It's going to inspire your reader, spark up interest in what you have to sell and set the scene for the rest of the copy. 


Or it's simply going to turn people off.


Why? Because our world is full of information overload; unless you take hold of that person quickly and make them take note, you've lost them for good. Yes, the headline has the most important job on the page.




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This will help you look your best.

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Make it count.

Write as many down as you can and choose the best three. And spend as much time as you can on it because you've usually only got the one chance to make an impression - and ultimately a SALE!

More soon folks...


p.s. If you need help with your copy, shoot to www.benvaughancopy.com NOW!