A client just asked me to review a news release prepared by an organization to announce my client's membership. It was error-free, but what hung me up was the focus. The release was entirely centered on how great it was for the organization to net a paying member (they even mention how excited they are about my client's financial investment). I don't really care about this organization, so why would I bother to read this if my client didn't ask me to?

A few thoughts on why we continue to see these news release fails and some tips on how you can avoid them:

1. Automation. In an age where news releases are scraped and run anywhere online for free or pennies on the dollar, maybe you don't think you have to worry about writing a good one any more since editors are largely out of this part of the process. When a human isn't in charge of whether your news sees the light of day, who cares, right? Wrong! This approach isn't just lazy;  it sets a standard that you and your organization send out crappy  content and makes it easier for people to ignore the good stuff you do distribute. If you can't send relevant, quality content, don't send at all.

2. Purpose. I'm guessing the purpose of the news release is to crow about the organization's signing up a cool new company. What else can I think when the release buries the lede under a few paragraphs of talk about "our awesome org and how happy we are to have a new paying member." It's all about you, issuing organization. Wrong! A more focused (and honest) purpose for an announcement of this type inspiring or motivating other cool companies to join the organization. That's a purpose that supports operational and financial goals while also enticing new membership. To do that, the focus shouldn't be on the joining, but on the cool company. A lede like this would have served us all so much better: Kick-Ass Cool Co., experts in/makers of awesome stuff, joined XX other innovators as members of  XX. This lede shows readers that lots of cool cos are in this org, not just one new one. It's awesomeness by association.

3. Audience. The audience is most likely other cool cos the organization wants to recruit alongside its existing members, and probably other orgs for a little nanny-nanny-boo-boo. That's the right group, but the boilerplate, self-promotional approach? Wrong! When you write to serve your interests instead of your audience's you risk turning off/boring the very people you need to engage. And very often, you don't serve the search audience, either. A more purpose-driven lede (and release) not only tells the whole story for human readers scanning content, but search engines doing the same.

You can keep using the same old approach and the same old boilerplate announcement template, and you'll get the same old results. Or you can change it up by changing your focus. Put more emphasis on quality content that's relevant to your purpose and to your audience and you'll get better results.

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