This is not a Press Release

Preface: I spend a lot of time thinking about marketing and the image of Rally in the US. If this interests you – keep reading!

frank-pressNot too long ago – Everything you read, watched, and listened to was output by a handful of media companies. Your only way to “make the news” was to put out a release that was crafted and polished with your message. You needed to catch the editors attention, draw them in for a short story, sprinkle in sponsors, and tell them where they could get more. Writing press was a good way for a low budget team to be just like a high budget team. On paper they look the same: Cute story, couple of photographs, shout out to a brand, see you next time.

Who reads these anymore? They certainly aren’t actually printed, and my carefully honed list of websites who publish press – publish everything. Once you start publishing everything you get a fire hose of information that no one really wants to read. Plus your message gets diluted down to practically nothing: “Sport you’ve never heard of has guy racing for points by Ovaltine.” How do I craft a message about Rally to everyone? Be boring and as vague as possible. 😉

Now what do we do? Well, some of the bigger teams, events, and companies have just moved their prepackaged press message over to Social Media. They post 60 times a day, every post has no real depth, and they are fire-hosing Twitter and Facebook along with every RSS feed tagged #rally #usrally. They ignore the “Social” in social media. Just shouting from mountain tops to no one in particular. After a few rallies they stop paying their PR person, get burned out, and the updates just stop or the fans tune out.

What’s really important: Starting the conversation – and then continuing the conversation with engaged followers. If your only message all weekend was: “We came in 1st – thx everyone! @Ovaltine” You’re not even starting a conversation. Sponsors are getting smart and are no longer looking at how many followers or website hits you get. Twitter users can be bought and sold. You should be talking about your target demographics, bounce rate, and “time on site” with sponsors. Just like the first few lines of a good press release should set the scene and take you somewhere, your thread of updates should do the same.

Just be a social human! I want to tell my friends about stuff occasionally and I don’t want to annoy them – That’s the best frequency for updates. You don’t like 6 emails from the same person, why would you think your fans would? Turn off the fire hose! We post updates to Twitter and Facebook that direct people to our tumblelog. On the tumblelog we give a little bit more of the story and get people to rallynotes. It’s up to them if they want more, and they control what they consume.

Hi, my name is Kris, and I am a real person™. You can actually talk to me. I try to answer questions and I also try to cover details that you wouldn’t normally see on a amateur rally team website. Like most humans, I get excited over my achievements, but talk about challenges I’ve had to overcome. Glad you took a look –  be sure to drink your Ovaltine. 😀

Hat Tip: Brian Driggs “Continue the conversation.” – Gearbox Magazine

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6 Responses to This is not a Press Release

  1. Susan Rand says:

    Good write-up 🙂

  2. Kris says:

    “Oh YEAH!”

  3. Brian says:

    I have been so insanely, head-down busy building the magazine lately, I just now fired up Feedly for the first time in I-have-no-idea. Sheesh. Your headline caught my eye. Your close caught me by surprise.

    Worth mentioning, nobody gives a shit about “Team You’ve Never Heard of Places Near Top in Event Nobody’s Heard of @Slimfast.” Compare that to, “Guy You Know, Trust, & Respect Says Something About Topic of Mutual Interest.”

    Comments. Conversations. (!=, by the way) Percolating urge to continue the discussion…

    Sorry to miss this for most of a month. Ugh.

  4. Kris says:

    I think half of this was a declaration that I need to get over the 1950’s concept of a “Press Release”. You follow what you like, you read more of what you enjoy, and trying to shout over the din all the time is just a waste.

    The other half was a mission statement – to take the time to make those connections and consider our role in US Rally. I started this as just a blog to cover my rally career, and ended up making friends and running into readers all over the country. That in itself is more rewarding then anything we do with sponsors and marketing.

    • Brian says:

      The difference between strong and weak connections. You’ve seen firsthand how things work when they’re real and personal. So what happens when your sponsors help you do more of that “work?” 😉

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