PR Writing: Selling Your Ideas Without Being A Sleazy Salesman

PR Writing: Selling Your Ideas Without Being A Sleazy Salesman

Posted on 25. Oct, 2010 by + in Press Release Writing Tips

You’ve likely heard the old adage: everyone likes to buy, but no one likes to be sold. Though a press release is intended to ‘sell’ your story ideas to the media or to sell your products and services to clients, there is a definite line between a confident release and a sleazy salesman-type pitch.

A press release is not the place for a blatant sales pitch — and writing it as such tends to turn people off. Reporters, bloggers, and consumers don’t like to be told what to think. They want the facts. They want proof of those facts. And then they want to make the judgement.

  • Presenting the details of your announcement in the best light possible = good.
  • Telling them that whatever you’re announcing is the best thing on the planet with no proof to back it up = bad. This just busts your credibility.

Proving Vs. Telling

The #1 way to turn a press release from a sleazy salesman-type pitch to a news announcement that sells, is to back up the claims made in the press release with attribution.

For example:

You want to convey that your brownies are the best. Instead of making the claim that it’s “the best,” reveal the proof:

  • 27 out of 30 independent taste testers chose Chocolate Cloud Brownies over the competitor.
  • Chocolate Cloud Brownies, called ‘a bite of heaven’ by XYZ Magazine…
  • The winner of the 2009 ‘Best Chocolate Snacks in America’ award, Chocolate Cloud Brownies has…
  • With more than 1.8 million boxes sold, Chocolate Cloud Brownies outsold its competitors in 2008 and 2009

You’re selling a coaching program and want to convey that you are an expert in your industry. Instead of only saying that you’re “an expert,” back up the claims with attribution:

  • Joe Smith has taught more than 150,000 small business owners to….
  • Joe Smith, a regular contributing editor to ABC Well Know blog, has…
  • More than 50,000 people have attended Joe Smith’s seminars since 1987…

Examples of Great Press Releases

Here are a few examples of press releases that did an excellent job of piquing my interest — without making me feel like I was being “sold.” In every case, I wanted (or did) take action to learn more an in some cases even bought the product!

Kelly Lester, CEO of Wins Top Honors in Mom Business Competition
Dr. Lillian Glass, Body Language Expert, Best-Selling Author Provides Actors Body Language Services
New Law Firm Marketing System Proven To Increase Practice Revenue By 30 Percent In 30 Days

Your Turn!

What are some ways that you have used to prove, not pitch when writing press releases? Are you facing any challenges working in ways to prove value vs. pitching it? We’re here to help and would love to hear your ideas and help with your challenges!

8 Responses to “PR Writing: Selling Your Ideas Without Being A Sleazy Salesman”

  1. Cortney Farmer

    25. Oct, 2010

    I agree – proving vs. telling is a great way to engage readers when posting press releases. For me, this helps keep the tone as authentic as possible which entices people to want to read on without making them think they are getting the PR version of the used car “lemon”

  2. Mike B.

    25. Oct, 2010

    I totally understand what you are saying — but what should I do if I have a brand new business or product? I haven’t gotten any awards or anything yet. Thanks!

  3. Katie

    25. Oct, 2010

    One of my favorite professors used to say, “If your mama says she loves, you, check it out.” Although she was talking about news articles, it definitely applies to press releases too. You can include opinion in your release, just make sure to put it in a quote and attribute it to someone.

  4. Karen

    25. Oct, 2010

    I love to shop online and enjoy trying new products. I always research a product or service before I buy and I hate when companies spend so much time telling me to buy their product but never really say WHY. I need the proof of why you rock and then I’ll buy!

  5. Christine OKelly


    25. Oct, 2010

    @ Courtney – totally agree with you there! If you stick to good attribution, the press release naturally comes out sounding more authentic. “PR version of the used car “lemon”” — that’s great!!

    @ Mike – that’s a GREAT question! There are several ways to overcome that situation. If your company is new, you can highlight the achievements of the people that founded the company. If the product is new, you can mention past successes of similar products. You can always create your own credibility too. You can put together a test group to try out the product or service and have them take a survey afterward. Now you’ve got stats and testimonials. If you don’t have credentials (and even if you do) be very clear about the deliverables of the product or service — and let the product or service speak for itself. Thanks for sharing a great question Mike!

    @ Katie – How funny! Your comment reminded me of this t-shirt that I just love: Great point about opinions. An opinion is only as valuable as the person who is saying it — when I can’t tell where the opinions are coming from, red flags start to go up and the message loses impact.

    @ Karen – YES!! We buy because we make choices to buy based on facts — not simply because we are told to!

  6. Khurram Zia Khan

    28. Jun, 2013

    I agree with the writer. I think while writing a Press Release, one must make sure that a PR is different from an advertisement. PR writers should not self proclaim them self but instead discuss unique features of their brand/services and use figure & comparative analysis to enhance interest of reporter or editor. A very interesting & thought provoking piece
    Khurram Zia Khan recently posted..Global Study on Diarrhoea Finds New Culprit in Pakistan, Recommends Fresh Interventions


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