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Content We Love – Setting a precedent: Why producing an unexpectedly good press release is only the beginning

I do my grocery shopping online, and when I do I always get the same American red apples delivered. I’ve probably bought them every week for the last six months. But the last time they arrived, they were battered, bruised and spongy. I hate soft, grainy apples so even though statistically they’ve been exactly what I wanted 98% of the time, I’m considering not buying them again.

As press release editors, as with consumers, the expectations we have can make us complacent, so the good experiences – be it a good apple, a good meal at a restaurant or a good press release – pass with very little fanfare. I got what I have come to expect. But the bad ones? They live longer in the memory.

The more releases we read, write and edit, the more experience we gain. Experience breeds expertise, and expertise in any field invariably leads to snobbery; so for those of us who’ve chosen a career in the journalism game, it’s important to address the balance and give credit where credit’s due.

The majority of the releases we receive pass through the editorial team without a hitch – high quality, and as such unremarkable in that ironically and complacently forgettable kind of way. But poor releases are not uncommon, especially from companies taking their first fledgling steps in the arena that is news distribution. What is less common, is when one of these newbies hits the nail on the head at the first time of trying.

Down to a science

The release I have in mind is by a company called Air2Nitrous (A2N); it has stuck with me for a number of reasons, and I’ve referenced it several times before. Firstly, I put quite a lot of my own time into advising the client on what he should and shouldn’t include. He freely admitted he was ‘new to all this’ but he was very open to advice, a humility that is much appreciated by editors.

Secondly, I didn’t understand the science behind what the product does, but such is the simplicity with which it was explained, I now kind of do. Speaking in layman’s terms is something I think even experienced clients often fail to grasp. Allow me to demonstrate:

“Air2Nitrous is a ‘first phase’ (prior to and during combustion) electronic emissions control system. It works by increasing the amount of oxygen molecules and decreasing the amount of nitrogen molecules present in the combustion chamber. More oxygen in the combustion chamber means a more complete burn of particulate matter and less nitrogen means less NOx output.”

I’d say that’s some complicated science explained in a way most people can at least get some sort of handle on.

Getting it right first time

But what struck me most about this release, is it sounded like the guy had invented a really good product. For a company distributing its first release, it sounded genuinely newsworthy, and although I’m not aware of A2N sending any subsequent communications to date, I think they could be on to something. A good title:

“Breakthrough Engine Technology Simultaneously Reduces Emissions, Saves Fuel and Increases Engine Power”

and a good first para:

“Air2Nitrous (A2N), a breakthrough engine technology that lowers critical emissions in engines while both saving fuel and increasing engine torque, is now available for global markets”

and there’s the backbone of a good release right there.

So if Air2Nitrous does decide to send any releases in future, the bar has been set high and likewise my expectations. I expect to understand what I am reading, I expect the content to be engaging, the product to be impressive and now that a precedent has been set, I will be disappointed if my standards are not met. Welcome to the cut-throat world of business and consumerism.

How do you like them apples?