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Getting Ink For Your New Product

By Steve Slaunwhite

Are you launching an exciting new product? Getting editors to take notice isn't easy.

More than 70% of press releases received by business and trade publications are product-oriented. That percentage is somewhat lower for consumer publications, and lower still for broadcast media, but not by a huge margin. So the competition for editor attention is fierce.

How do you cut through the clutter? Applying the basics of crafting an effective media release is a good place to start. You need a strong headline, a captivating lead, an interesting hook, and a compelling presentation of the 5 W's. But if you want to really give your product launch the edge, here are some additional writing strategies worth considering:

Avoid being salesy
This may seem obvious, but even experienced PR practitioners can let their enthusiasm spill onto the page or screen, resulting in writing that is unintentionally promotional. Editors will snub a media release that appears to be a blatant sales message in disguise. So watch the tone.

Choose benefits carefully
In PR Writing 101 we learned to "Stress the benefits." But which benefits? Your new product may have dozens, or even hundreds. Here's a tip: Don't even try to highlight all the benefits. Instead, focus on those things that competing products either can't do or don't do as well. Not only will this make your media release easier to write, you'll be amazed at how fresh and newsworthy it will be.

Put it in context
Editors are constantly lamenting that most media releases they receive are not relevant to their readers or viewers. So make it obvious that yours is different. Leverage the headline and the lead - the two most scanned sections of a release - to demonstrate specifically how your new product will change the lives, work or business of the editor's target audience.

Use testimonials
"But this is a new product," you may be saying. "No one has bought it yet!" That may be true. But you do have customers who have the problem your new product solves. So try to obtain an endorsement of the solution, if not the product itself. For example, you may be able to persuade a potential customer to say something like, "Wow. A new processor that makes widgets 22% faster will shorten our production cycle by 40%!"

Shake things up
Does your new product challenge the industry status quo? Is it going to topple a few sacred cows? Editors love controversy. For example, vacuum cleaners were designed basically the same way for decades, until a brash upstart company invented the cyclone suction system. That industry hasn't been the same since. So if your new product is going to shake things up, highlight this in the press release.

In a nutshell, editors want the answer to one question: "So what?" How well your media materials answer this question will determine the success of your new product launch campaign.


Steve Slaunwhite writes, consults and speaks on the strategic use of copy in marketing communications. He can be reached at (905) 846-2620 or through his website at

See also:
How Media Relations Helps the Marketing Plan
7 Ways to Get More Mileage from a Case Study
Public Relations Strategy a Valuable Fundraising Tool
Writing a Successful Case Study
Getting Ink for Your New Product
Managing the Media
3 Keys to Keeping Your Marketing and PR Writing on Strategy