Have you ever heard the phrase “the exception that proves the rule”?
When you have a hard and fast rule, it’s almost inevitable that something will break it. That deviation validates the rule, because it elicits a thunderous “huh?”
The same goes for press releases. Nintey-nine percent of the time, press releases should follow the rules. Once out of a hundred times, though, you come across weird, wild examples that make no sense at all—yet still they do their job beautifully. Here’s what I mean:
Take it from someone who worked at a radio station: There are just so many ways to word a band press release/bio. You talk about the band’s history, give some weird and usually incorrect comparisons to other bands, and top it off with ridiculous adjectives to describe the music. Sprinkle in claims of future stardom, and you’re done.
That’s why the press release for Delicate Steve
is so interesting. The first sentence is awful: “The critics unilaterally concur: Delicate Steve is a band who creates music.” The bio is nonsensical and totally fake. The comparisons to My Bloody Valentine are inept.
The deeper you get into the story, the more you realize how ingenious it is. If the point of a press release is to grab attention and not let go, this release accomplishes its mission. It also manages to become a story in of itself by transcending the form and becoming a statement on the nature of public relations.
When you are known for putting out one kind of statement but are suddenly forced to break that pattern, it can chase readers and customers away. They may think you’ve suddenly turned on them or “sold out” in some manner.
The folks at Groupon knew this when drafting a press release to coincide with the filing for its IPO a few years back. The Securities and Exchange Commission wouldn’t allow Groupon to hype the company or speak in its usual manner, as it then could’ve been accused of breaking some pretty serious rules. Groupon was in danger of chasing away some of its audience.
To counter this, it included a caveat at the top of the press release
describing the rest of it as “yawn-inducing.” Not only did this put readers’ minds at ease about the company, it cheekily showed that not much was going to change just because the business was growing.
Yes, even the world of Don Draper
has examples of strange press releases. This one was sent out in the real world and is marked as being from 1968. It was sent out to TV reviewers and journalists immediately after the penultimate episode of the latest season.
[RELATED: Get advanced writing and editing tips from Mark Ragan and Jim Ylisela.]
What makes it so strange is this is the first example I can recall of any show’s use of a press release as an off-show teaser, though considering the focus of “Mad Men,” it’s no surprise. What did it all mean? Did any of the info in the press release have anything to do with the show? No spoilers here but, needless to say, the release caught everyone’s attention.
What’s the craziest successful press release you’ve ever seen?
Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this story originally appeared.