DESIGNERS: GREAT AT SOCIAL MEDIA, WEAK AT PRESS RELEASES
Self-Promotion for Designers Now Lacking in Traditional Media; Blogger Makes Case for Teaching Designers Basic Format of Press Releases
Seattle, WA, Thursday, May 7--David Sherwin is admonishing working designers and agencies for not using press releases more often for both self-promotion and coverage of client projects. Even with full-time projects for designers in decline, there are still ways to reach outside the blog and speak to the press.
Traditional media opportunities are on the decline, but they are not out of the picture. "If you don't promote yourself now, when opportunities are slim, you will risk gaining the proper level of exposure when the market improves," Mr. Sherwin said to his empty living room after eating two bites of dark chocolate. "Even if you're a highly active blogger, it doesn't hurt to reach out through traditional media channels. It can aid your blogging and self-promotional efforts when applied effectively."
As part of Mr. Sherwin's ongoing PR education campaign, he outlined the following basic structure for a press release that any designer can use. Whether you've completed a small project, won an award, or have seen the impact of your efforts over time for a client initiative, the form of a press release is always accommodating.
A great press release will contain:
- A headline and an optional subhead. Designers should seek a concise description of the angle you're taking for the overall press release, summarized in a strong headline. A subhead can be added as necessary to "unpack" the drama inherent in the headline.
- The lede. The first paragraph of any press release must include the who, what, when, where, and why of your overall story. Ideally, the lede will be concise enough to be reprinted without any editorial effort on the part of a wire service, press outlet, or blogger.
- Supporting context and quotes. The following paragraphs should provide the grounding for your lede, helping to deepen your argument and create a greater context for your story. Adding in quotes from yourself -- as much as it may hurt to put words in your own mouth in the third person -- is critical. The addition of client quotes is also a great idea, being mindful that you will need to likely write their quote and have them approve it.
- If necessary, long-form data in bullet points. If you have a ton of information to cover, a bulleted list such as this one can provide the right format to showcase the depth of thought required behind a piece of work or an overall campaign. "Quotes can also be included in these data sections as well," said Mr. Sherwin, "which helps liven up lists."
- The boilerplate. Every press release should conclude with boilerplate language, which is where you fully describe who you are, what you do, and how you can be contacted via the Web or phone.
- Showing the work. If you're discussing a campaign or a creative product, consider including photographs within your release or providing links out to downloadable files that journalists and bloggers can reference.
"Closing your press release with an expert point of view can further aid your argument," said Paul Rand, who was contacted by the author via time machine. "But to remain completely professional, be sure that you get written consent from your contributors, unlike David, who decided to utilize my name in conjunction with this fabricated tripe."
About David: Ah, forget the boilerplate. The author of this release would like you be very aware of whom you contact with your press release. Many bloggers do not appreciate being emailed with press releases. Create a list of people whom you feel would appreciate being contacted by you, and then reach out them via email with your story. They will appreciate it, and be more likely to provide you with a PR opportunity.