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Sunday, April 01, 2007

How to Inject “Stealth Selling” into a Press Release

Overview


Writers often feel constrained by the strict journalistic conventions, which govern press releases. They cover the 5 W’s in the first paragraph with little or no flourish for fear the media will reject a press release as too “salesy.”


We, the readers, wind up with something all too dry. Worse still, it’s as if copy based on how the customer benefits is off-limits. This leaves many corporate press releases to focus on the company or product features instead. The net effect is a self-centeredness, which borders on hubris and what could be more boring?


The press release we tune up today is refreshingly free of excessive ego. It falls down on some of the basics of press release writing and we call attention to those in passing. What’s more interesting is how we can inject “stealth selling” into this press release, keep it engaging, and not trigger sales resistance.


No, this is not Neuro-Linguistic Programming and there are no “subliminable” messages either.


Get in a Groove with Gruuve


Gruuve provides the combination of a search engine for online music collecting with a social networking site. I met one of the company principals at a Silicon Valley mixer not too long ago and got a quick yet thorough summary of who’s who in this interesting market niche. Some time since then, they revamped their site and the press release I saved to my computer for future reference was removed. In the spirit of “all publicity is good publicity,” I hope they don’t mind my pointing to a cached Google listing.


Copywriting Tune-up



Before

After

GRUUVE To Launch Web Music Engine

July 25, 2006

SANTA CLARA, CA. GRUUVE www.gruuve.com today announced the launch of the Gruuve Web Music Engine.

Gruuve provides users with tools and services to organize and manage their music, podcasts and audio files in one place. Users can upload their music to their Gruuve account, create playlists, plug and play into iTunes, get discography information for their music library. Gruuve has over 20,000,000 million song titles from over 1,500,000 albums for over 400,000 artists. Users can also create their on web page, invite friends, blog and much more.

Presently the music engine supports only MP3 files.

Gruuve also enables users to bookmark their favorite artists in their account to quickly access breaking news, get information on tours and new releases. This removes the frustration of signing up for multiple fan club web sites, creating multiple profiles and remembering multiple passwords.

Our goal at Gruuve is to connect everything music in one place.

For your free account please visit www.gruuve.com.

For: GRUUVE Music Search & Syndication Street, City, State Zip

Contact: Person, Email / Phone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GRUUVE Launches Web Music Engine

Online Service Unites Fans, Music, and Events on Social Networking Platform

SANTA CLARA, CA., July 25, 2006 - Countless people worldwide collect music, label it, create it, publish it, promote it, and enjoy it with their friends. Such love of music brings them together at GRUUVE, an online social network focused on music. The new service makes available 20 million songs from more than 1.5 million albums and 400,000 artists. In addition, users create personal web pages, invite friends, and blog.

Music lovers use the tools and services of GRUUVE as a way to maintain their music, podcasts, and MP3 audio files. Users upload content to their GRUUVE account, create playlists, and obtain discography information for their music libraries. GRUUVE users take their music with them on their Apple iPods thanks to the plug and play capability of GRUUVE with Apple iTunes.

On GRUUVE, users bookmark their favorite artists to receive breaking news on upcoming tours and new releases. In addition, users enjoy the convenience of a single place to keep up with all their favorite acts. This eliminates the need to maintain profiles and passwords at separate fan club websites.

New users can setup free accounts at www.gruuve.com.


Readability Statistics


To replicate these numbers, start with the first word of body copy onwards. This is where the Before and After versions are directly comparable. The After version is 29% more readable and shaves nearly 1.5 years off the grade level.


Thankfully, we don’t need lower readability, more SMOG, or a higher grade level as cover for our stealth selling component – more on this below.


Get Press Release Basics Squared Away


In the opening before the press release headline, it helps to include the “For:”, “Contact:”, and “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” elements. This eliminates ambiguity for whoever in the media mulls picking up your press release.


Moreover, in this post dot.com era, providing a physical address puts the issuer of the press release in a more stable light. Supplying a contact gives the media an individual to get in touch with if they have any questions. Specifying the release is for immediate use cues them that they’re free to run with the press release. Without these items, chances are, the press release will never run.


Slip a Benefit into the Headline or Sub-head


This isn’t the stealth part, but slipping a benefit into the headline or sub-head is advisable for the same reasons. The Before version offers a headline too generic and brief to convey a benefit. Also, by placing it in future tense, any benefits appear subject to doubt.


The After version places the headline firmly in the present. This removes lingering doubt and is valid to do given the network’s many participating artists, songs, and albums.


More importantly, the After version uses the sub-head to accomplish two things. One, it makes clear what Gruuve is. Two, it implicitly states that using Gruuve is fun.


Give Your Press Release a Pleasing Flow


The Before version has a fitful flow to it. There are 4 single sentence paragraphs and 2 lengthy ones. The first paragraph is a single sentence that simply restates the headline and therefore loses momentum. It does cover 4 W’s from a traditional journalistic standpoint. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a “why”, even an implicit one.


The After version recognizes that social networking and specialty search engines are still somewhat new on their own let alone together. The opening two sentences let us know that popular passions are fueling the rise of Gruuve.


This is essential to injecting stealth sales language into the press release, but let’s get back to flow. Overall, the paragraph elaborates on the headline and sub-head. The last two sentences of the paragraph flesh out the first two sentences.


The Before version dives too quickly into the low level particulars of what people can do on Gruuve. This would be better suited to a second paragraph detailing the first.


For some reason, the third paragraph is a single sentence. Its content detracts from the positive message of this press release. If there are music file formats poised to overtake MP3, I haven’t heard about them. Why call attention to it?


The After version uses its second paragraph to clarify how people use Gruuve day to day.


The fourth paragraph of the Before version and the third of the After version serve the same purpose. For some reason, the Before version includes another unexpected, single sentence as its fifth paragraph. This sentence comes across as a tagline and may raise sales resistance. More about this when we discuss “voice” in the next section.


One last point about flow in the After version. Each paragraph expands upon a noun found in the sub-head. The first paragraph addresses music as a basis for social networking. The second speaks to the music itself. The third is about fans and events. Coming out of the third paragraph, one gets the feeling there are no loose ends or areas of confusion.


Use a Consistent Voice to Keep Sales Resistance at Bay


In terms of voice, the Before version started out in third person and remained there until the second to last sentence. At that point, it entered first person. First person combined with what amounts to a tagline is bound to raise sales resistance.


The final sentence of the Before version then switches to second person voice. Sales resistance will be even higher for this sentence because it reads as a call to action in a sales piece.


The After version pre-empts sales resistance by respecting the basic journalistic requirement of maintaining third person voice unless quoting someone.


Speaking of which, adding quotes to this press release would increase credibility. For a press release to be distributed online, it might be SEO savvy to have the quote come from one of the more popular Gruuve network bloggers.


How to Inject Stealth Sales Language into a Press Release


Again, let’s be clear that we’re not talking about psychology or anything subliminal.


Everything revolves around how we handle the 5 W’s in the first paragraph. The Before version approaches this is in a conventional, journalistic way. The 5 W’s of the After version hinge around an implicit benefit to the user.


The table below compares the two on this basis:



5 W's

Before

After

Who

Gruuve

Music lovers

What

Music engine

Joining a music oriented online social network

Where

Santa Clara

Implicitly, anywhere people want to socialize with others using music as a starting point

When

July 25, 2006

Now

Why

Unclear

Implicitly, you can feed your love of music in the company of old friends and new and enjoy all the conveniences of a powerful online music management system


Wrap up


This tune up is about a philosophy of engaging the reader first so that self promotion takes care of itself. Like any sales literature, a press release must be held accountable to the same standard for justifying the reader’s continued attention. Either way, the reader’s first concern is W.I.I.F.M. – what’s in it for me.


By addressing this aspect of human nature in an objective way, using the third person voice, and keeping the text as readable as possible, a press release can have even greater selling power than an advertorial because it never blows its cover.


Do you want to raise the response rate of your collateral but feel unsure how to go about it? Contact Clear Crisp Communications for a free Q & A session.

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