In Blog, lessons

Americans now drink more bottled water than soda.

On March 9, this news spread across the Internet, making it one of the largest business-health stories of the day. The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the New York Post, and dozens of other news outlets around the world ran the story.

It’s hard to imagine that all of this buzz started with a short, but highly effective six-paragraph press release issued by New York-based data firm Beverage Marketing Corp.

Generating this kind of publicity with a single press release is the equivalent of turning water into Dom Pérignon. So what lessons can we learn here?

 

1. Using News Hooks. Beverage Marketing Corp.’s press release contained highly usable content. The data firm used three effective news hooks to grab the attention of journalists and readers:

  • Beverage Marketing Corp. tied its message to a popular trend that everyone is aware of – to drink and eat healthier. Journalists love trend stories, because they are recognizable and relevant to readers.
  • The press release had an element of conflict. For the first time bottled water overtook soda to become the most consumed beverage. The media love competition and a new leader.
  • The release contained two powerful superlatives that demonstrate that we’re dealing with real news here – for the first time bottled water beat soda as the largest beverage category in the U.S.

2. Stick to the Facts. Beverage Marketing Corp. presented the news in a very down-to-earth manner by letting the facts speak for themselves. They started with a straightforward headline that cuts right to the chase: “Bottled Water Becomes Number-One Beverage in the U.S.” In addition, the data firm offered lots of statistics to back up its claim, starting in the very first paragraph. They also provided detailed data going back 10 years so the media could create graphs to illustrate their stories.

3. Provide Ready-to-Use Quotes and Commentary. The press release includes a thoughtful quote that any news organization could easily cut and paste into an article. “When Perrier first entered the country in the 1970s, few would have predicted the heights to which bottled water would eventually climb,” Beverage Marketing Corp. Chairman and CEO Michael C. Bellas was quoted as saying in the statement.

The release also contains a forward-looking comment, predicting that water will continue to widen its lead for years to come.

4. Build Long-Term Relationships. Of course, it’s not totally fair to say Beverage Marketing Corp. generated this kind of publicity with just a single press release. The company’s press page shows a steady flow of press release activity, going back many years.

The data firm already had a relationship with the press. The Wall Street Journal’s Jennifer Maloney had an article about PepsiCo in January that quoted Beverage Marketing Corp.’s Bellas. Building relationships with the press always increases your chances that the press will run your story.

Conclusion: Accommodate Journalists

If you want the media to pick up your story, make life easy for them. Spoon feed them all the components they need to write a compelling story. Beverage Marketing Corp.’s press release did an excellent job playing up the news hooks, sticking to the facts, providing data and bite-sized quotes and making their experts available to comment on broader industry stories. By doing this, Beverage Marketing Corp. demonstrated that even companies without Fortune 500 status can have champagne-type coverage in the world’s biggest news outlets.

Check out Beverage Marketing Corp.’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, which offers Workflows that 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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