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Toyota will invest $1.33 billion in its Kentucky plant.

On April 10, this news became one of the top auto industry stories of the day. Media including The New York Times, USA Today and countless other news outlets around the world ran the story. While not every company has the brand cachet or financial might of Toyota, there are lots of lessons to learn from this announcement.

Interestingly, this investment is part of a previously announced $10 billion investment by Toyota. In other words, this is an update to old news, with some new facts.


1. Strong News Hooks. Toyota used two effective News Hooks to grab the attention of journalists and other readers:

  • Toyota tied its message to a popular trend: boosting U.S. manufacturing and jobs. The investment is part of Toyota’s previously announced plan to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years. While Toyota doesn’t mention if it will create more jobs, it said the facility has 8,200 employees, an all-time high, after recently adding 700 people to support production of the Camry, one of its mid-sized models.
  • Strong superlatives. Toyota’s announcement was full of superlatives, giving it a historical twist that journalists love. The company said the $1.33 billion investment is the highest of any automaker in the state and the second-largest investment in Kentucky’s history.

2. Ready-to-Use Background Information. Toyota provides a lot of background information to put the news in perspective. The company said the investment is part of a plan to invest $10 billion, which is in addition to the nearly $22 billion Toyota has spent in the past 60 years in the U.S. The company also used the outside firm Center for Automotive Research to highlight that Toyota supports 30,000 jobs in Kentucky — both directly and indirectly — supporting the company’s key jobs and manufacturing message in the statement.

3. Outside Comments. Comments from a person or organization that are not part of the company almost always enhance a press release’s quality by giving the impression of independence and validity. However, Toyota might have overused this strategy by offering quotes from five different politicians, including U.S. President Donald Trump. This added unnecessarily to the length of the statement, and it increased the chances of media focusing on the political angle.

Conclusion: State the Facts and Don’t Distract

Toyota did an excellent job repurposing old news by tying its announcement to a popular trend. Its press release garnered massive media interest around the world. However, the question remains whether Toyota was satisfied with the quality of the pickup. Bloomberg’s John Lippert and The Associated Press pointed out that Trump took credit for the investment, which had been in the works long before he took office, thus undermining Toyota’s message. The conclusion: focus is key when writing press releases. When you add too many outside voices, you add too much distraction and run the risk of losing control of the narrative.

Check out Toyota’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.

Alex Armitage is co-founder and CEO 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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