The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

Sometimes I get so wound up with my projects, that I’ll wake up at 3:00 a.m. and can’t fall back to sleep. The good news is that I’ve found an easy road back to dreamland. All I have to do is head to any corporate press room, read the press releases, and five minutes later I’m counting sheep again.

Because the traditional McPress Release looks like this:

COMPANY NAME, a world leader in SOMETHING THAT CAN’T BE DISPUTED, who makes seamlessly integrated, value-added, NAME OF PRODUCT FAMILY here, has just released SOME WIZZ-BANG PRODUCT. ADD FAKE QUOTE FROM EXECUTIVE HERE. If you have any questions, contact NAME HERE.


And then I read one of the best press releases that I’ve ever seen. Take a peek at the first paragraph of this press release from IBM:

ARMONK, NY & WASHINGTON, DC – 09 Oct 2008: Munir is five years old, and he lives in a ruggedly remote, rural village in Northern Pakistan. For months, he has suffered from an aggressive and worsening skin lesion that, for want of medical care, has gone untreated. But now, his fortunes have changed for the better – as they have for a growing number of Pakistanis in the region. Today, as his relieved father would quickly tell you, Munir is on the road to full recovery.

How’s THAT for a hook? You can’t help but want to read more.

But my delight goes beyond the great writing. Your New Media Evangelist appreciates IBM’s use of online video in the press release.

The video is professionally produced and has a great voiceover — two ingredients that typically lead to disaster in online corporate video. But in this case, it works! The video not only tells a story, but it ties exceptionally well into the text of the press release. It focuses on people USING the technology — doctors diagnosing and treating patients remotely — instead of showing stock shots of flashing lights and graphical user interfaces.

The only nit that I have is related to the last three paragraphs. Paragraphs 7-9 fall back into traditional inane PR blather. It’s almost as if a human wrote the first six paragraphs, and an “Automatic Press Release Machine” wrote the last part. Checkout the first sentence of paragraph 7 to see what I mean:

“The Department of State, through the Pakistan Telemedicine Project, is demonstrating the transformative power of telecommunications technology under the U.S. Government’s Digital Freedom Initiative, which seeks to encourage the spread of technology to the developing world,” said Ferial Saeed, Deputy U.S. Coordinator & Office Director for International Communications & Information Policy.

Umm…who uses “transformative power” in every day language?

Independent of my minor complaint, there is so much to learn from this press release.

  • It’s written in a conversational voice
  • It uses the power of storytelling
  • It integrates video that puts you face-to-face with the people who care.

So what if it falls off the wagon in paragraph 7-9, it’s still infinitely better than the “seamlessly integrated, value-added, NAME OF PRODUCT FAMILY here” version.

I can only see one downside to having more PR departments start producing content like this. My personal cure from insomnia will be severely jeopardized.

UPDATE: For some reason, IBM killed the original video that I embedded and re-posted another. I can’t see a difference, so I don’t understand the switcheroo, but it’s fixed now.


Filed under: Content Development

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