Professional writer and press manager

Branding and Storytelling: Why you need to take time

As the skies were illuminated by the giant face of the moon; red and speaking of autumnal fires; as nights have drawn in, chattering with thunder that ripples across the harbour, shivering blades of light into sheltered coves; I’ve been running out of hours to meet with Cornwall’s finest creators, designers and all round lovely people. I’ve still done it, though, and been excited to encounter brand new businesses who have pulled together to create a networking event in a few weeks: The Launch 2014.

In addition to creating high quality content that gives value to clients of clients, this week I’ve been had meetings to discuss branding and tone of voice, and how having an expert can really help in these endeavours. To truly create a strong brand and customer loyalty, you need to give your brand enough respect to take time with it.

Kintsugi - using mistakes to create something beautiful

Strong, dependable branding relies on transparency

Just as each of the products you create are based on trials and experience, learning from failures, the incredible art of kintsugi, of not hiding ‘mistakes’ but seeing them merely as part of the process; getting the tone for your branding exactly spot on is not an instant process.

It takes spending time together with your writers, designers and artists, preferably together, in order to create something that truly reflects the essence of your values, goals and motivations. It’s about taking the very best version of you and injecting it with just a touch of caricature to give a story to your prospective customers, or those already existing, in order for them to feel an emotional connection.

Emotions themselves are, of course, complicated, divergent and duplicitous, just as language can be. Creating an excellent brand starts with transparency; which engenders trust. By transparency, one of the interesting aspects I mean is to talk about your processes. People love a story, and real stories follow the true arc of intrigue and understanding, with elements of drama through crises. These crises make us human and overcoming them makes us stronger. Keeping regular contact with the public, through blogging, social media, newsletters and whatever form of contact you are using seems daunting to some companies.

How will I make a story? Some wonder.

But being a strong brand really just means connecting with people. Getting their emotions involved. Make stories from the rises and the falls of your week. Today we were experimenting with new paper and the print wouldn’t stick properly, so it smudged. Yesterday I hand wrote 70 letters, but the wind blew them into the garden and the dog chased the like leaves. these small failures happen to all of us every day and help to establish connections.

brand evokes emotions

Great communications create imagery

People also invest emotion in something driven by senses; experiences they can relate to. If walking through the grounds of a Sicilian holiday cottage becomes the scent of fresh lemons, and sunshine and July’s searing heat; most people can relate to some of that imagery. And some will result in craving that very experience.

Others might hate lemons.

But that’s OK too because you can’t keep all people happy all of the time.

Like building up great relationships in real life, building a brand people trust doesn’t happen overnight. It happens through consistent storytelling, revealing information that demonstrates our failures and celebrates our successes. It happens with commitment, patience and humility.

To arrange a free consultancy regarding your branding and tone of voice, please call me today. But don’t expect it to take 5 minutes! 07729263818

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A History of Press Releases

Writing a decent press release is a noble art. I say art, but the reality is probably more corporate than creative. And I say noble, but the reality is often more Machiavellian than morally motivated.

Why use press release?
Press releases are generally used by companies to present information in a straight-forward and factual manner, often in response to an event, a positive change or sometimes a PR crisis. They have been described by American publicist Fraser Seitel as “the granddaddy of public relations writing” and are generally sent to journalists in order to persuade them to feature the information in whichever publication they represent. Apparently many journalists hate them. I say apparently but I know this from the articles I’ve read and the emails I receive from some journalists!

Where did it all start?
In the late 1880s it was common for the US congress members to visit Newspaper Row in Washington D.C. in order to pass on titbits of information about their political manifestos. However, it is widely felt that the first official press release was sent by an American PR man named Ivy Lee in 1906. A train crash in Atlantic City, New Jersey, left 50 dead but resulted in the creation of a useful public relations tool – perhaps not the fairest of swaps.
Following the crash, Ivy Lee convinced his client Pennsylvania Railroad to let him write a statement offering an explanation of what had happened and allegedly the New York Times printed Lee’s press release verbatim.

Press releases today
Over a century later, press releases are still used as an attempt to lead journalists firmly by the nose to whatever an organisation may consider to be a newsworthy story. Having worked in house on magazines, I know many press releases get scanned for quotes and statistics and then are discarded. However, the remit of press releases has increased, with many small businesses and startups using them as a way of reaching out to customers. The key is to steer clear of an indiscriminate use of press releases lest you be accused of ‘churnalism’ or drown your audience in information they do not wish to hear.

What the future holds
A floundering print market and the onslaught of its supercilious competitor – the internet – have changed the manner in which press releases are submitted. Many commercial websites offer fee-based press release writing services which aim to make news about a company more visible and more easily found via search engines. This has created a more level playing-field for smaller businesses that would ordinarily be unable to afford the rates charged by large PR companies. Many of the people I work with are SMBs and SMEs or startups launching their product. An element of originality can be introduced via the use of Video News Releases (VNRs) and these can be turned into podcasts, blogs or community websites. Furthermore, it is now common to include hyperlinks and keywords within press release content in order to capitalise on web-marketing potential and boost SEO.

Despite developments within the market in which they are used, Ivy Lee can rest peacefully in the knowledge that the press release is likely to remain a PR “granddaddy” for some time yet, given the pickup rate I’ve seen recently.

For a bespoke press release about your SMB or company, please use my order form and I will write and distribute your Press Release within 2 days.