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McDonald’s will serve fresh beef, prepared when ordered, in all Quarter Pounder burgers across the U.S. by mid-2018.

On March 30, this news became one of the most read food stories of the day. Major dailies like The New York Times, trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News and hundreds of other news outlets around the world ran the story.

It all started with a 7-paragraph press release issued by McDonald’s USA.

The world-famous fast food restaurant chain has been successfully marketing its burgers for many decades, but what can we learn from how they sell their news?


1. Strong News Hooks. In its press release, McDonald’s used three effective News Hooks to grab the attention of journalists and other readers:

  • It tied its message to a popular trend: to eat better and healthier food. By mid-2018 the company will offer beef without fillers, additives or preservatives in its Quarter Pounders in the U.S., following similar moves by competitors including Wendy’s. The decision is part of a series of changes McDonald’s has made since 2015.
  • The press release has a historic element. It focuses on a milestone event that could be perceived as a break with the past. After several decades of successfully serving burgers made with frozen beef, McDonald’s will now introduce fresh beef burgers, prepared when ordered.
  • McDonald’s does a good job teasing its readers through pithy and forward-looking comments. “We’re just getting started, and can’t wait to show you what’s next,” McDonald’s USA President Chris Kempczinski was quoted as saying in the press release.

2. Show, Don’t Tell. McDonald’s listens to its customers: this key message is written all over the 7-paragraph press release. McDonald’s explains that this change is the latest step in a series of bold moves to meet its customers’ expectations, and that it’s inspired by feedback from customers and employees after extensive testing.

The press release also shows us that the decision was not made at a corporate level, but driven by its local franchisees. The release was issued by McDonald’s USA – and not by corporate, as you might expect with news this big – and it includes a closing quote from Dallas-Fort Worth franchisee owner Joe Jasper.

3. Ready-to-Use Background Information. In order to back up its claims, McDonald’s uses easy-to-read bullet points to sum up the changes it has made since 2015. These include All-Day Breakfast, removal of artificial preservatives from some menu items and elimination of high fructose corn syrup from its buns used on some of its most popular burgers. Countless news outlets took advantage of this and used these ready-to-use examples in their articles.

Conclusion: The Power of Repetition

As the largest restaurant operator and one of the best-known companies in the world, McDonald’s will always attract attention. But like any company, they still have to be smart and work hard to strengthen their corporate reputation. With a so-called drip-feed campaign McDonald’s plays its cards right: in incremental steps it informs its customers of the changes it is making to meet their changing demands. This is the power of repetition. McDonald’s markets its news like its burgers: it makes journalists come back for more.

Check out McDonald’s press release here and let me know in the comments section below why you think it was so effective and what lessons you will likely apply in your next press release.

Marcel van de Hoef is co-founder of Publiqly, whose Workflows help small and mid-sized companies write press releases that journalists and bloggers can’t ignore. Were you forwarded this post? Sign up to receive our weekly press release lessons directly in your inbox.

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