It seems like I can’t go a day without seeing a link to a BuzzFeed article. Whether it’s 34 Things That Will Make ‘90s Girls Feel Old or 18 Shocking But True Celebrity Facts, people go crazy for BuzzFeed’s content. The popular site was valued at $200 million earlier this year, so clearly they’re doing something right. And clearly, there is something we as content creators can learn from BuzzFeed.
So, after studying the BuzzFeed formula for success carefully, I’ve come up with a few lessons we can apply to press release writing:
- Use numbered lists to keep things concise and easy to read—Most of BuzzFeed’s stories come neatly packaged in the numbered list format, and there are some good reasons for this. List posts are typically pretty tight and to the point. There’s no unnecessary fluff. Lists are also easy to scan, so you don’t have to commit a lot of time to reading the article. And the numbered headline sets a clear expectation for the reader. They know exactly how much of an investment they’ll have to put in to reading the article.
- Target a specific demographic—One thing BuzzFeed does an excellent job at is pinpointing an audience. Each article is targeted at a very specific demographic. For example, I mentioned the article earlier entitled “34 Things That Will Make ‘90s Girls Feel Old.” The audience is girls who grew up during the ‘90s. When it comes to writing press releases, you need to have a specific audience in mind. Don’t try to create a generic piece you hope will appeal to everyone, because you’ll end up with something boring that appeals to no one. Define your audience, and reach out to them and only them.
- Create interesting, Tweetable headlines—BuzzFeed lures readers in with its headlines. When you see one of their stories shared on Facebook, Twitter, reddit, or somewhere else, you can’t help but be intrigued by the title. It makes you want to click. That’s what you should strive for with your press release headlines. They should make people want to click and read the story.
- Evoke an emotional response—BuzzFeed’s articles almost always play to a specific emotion. Whether they make you laugh, cry, or feel nostalgic, they get some sort of response out of you. With your press releases, you should tell emotional stories that get readers involved. Emotions make your stories more interesting and more memorable.
- Keep producing content—BuzzFeed pumps out articles day and night, and not all of them are huge viral successes. They take the law of averages approach. If they put out enough articles, some of them are bound to get a lot of traffic. I’ve suggested a similar approach to press release writing, what I like to call the leaky faucet approach to PR. If you’re persistent and keep putting out high quality, engaging press releases, you’ll have a better chance of getting a story picked up. Just make sure you aren’t putting out crap!
What are some other lessons press release writers can learn from BuzzFeed? Share your thoughts by commenting below.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html