Press releases are great. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking them. And they do have a very clear purpose in terms of getting media attention.
But if you look at the guidelines for the way they’re written, they’re not designed to talk directly to your readers.
“If your release contains hype, slang, excessive exclamation points or direct address, chances are it will be viewed as an advertisement rather than a news release.” – from PR Web’s ‘14 Tips For Writing A News Release’. (Note: PR Web is now Cision, and the article no longer exists).
The whole idea of a press release is to give the media the facts, with an attention-grabbing angle; quickly, and without being flowery and self-effusive about it. That’s great for the media outlets, but let’s face it, newspapers and online news sites aren’t usually the ones buying your product or service.
Basically, people buy from people – they are the ones that make the buying decisions – and you need to talk to them like they are other human beings, not like you’re addressing a faceless board (bored?).
If I was writing this as a press release, I’d be all ‘the purpose of press releases is to get media attention and companies should… blah blah blah’. While third person is perfect for novels, it can be very distancing in a blog post.
Contrast that with the way I’ve written this blog post. I’m deliberately using ‘you’, ‘yours’ and so on, because it feels like I’m talking to you personally, not like I’m reciting a mechanical procedure at you that you have no involvement in.
While I’m certainly not suggesting that you start using hype or eleventy squillion exclamation marks in your blog posts, using second person (you, yours, etc) is brilliant for drawing your audience in and making them feel like you’re having a real conversation, not a sales pitch. And that’s what engages your audience, shows off your personality, and lets people get to know you.
So, next time you feel the urge to be all formal in your blog posts, and sound like you’re going for the title of ‘Mr (or Ms, or however you identify – I’m equal opportunities, here!) Boring of the Year, of the Boring Town Boring Association, stop and think.
Remember that whole ‘know, like and trust’ thing that gets your readers to become customers? You can’t make that work by distancing yourself from your readers and sounding like a toneless engineering manual.
Let your personality show, let your freak flag fly (within reason!). It’s what makes you who you are and separates you from all the bland ‘me too’ businesses out there.
A bit boggled by all the things you need to think about to start a blog? Why not let me write your posts, while you concentrate on working on your business, not in it?