Friday 12 November 2010

Advertising 101- Lesson 5 - The Press Release

What is a press release?

A press release is pseudo-news story, written in third person, that seeks to demonstrate to an editor or
reporter the newsworthiness of a particular person, event, service or product.

How is a press release used?

Press releases are often sent alone, by e-mail, fax or snail mail. They can also be part of a full press kit,
or may be accompanied by a pitch letter.

What is the proper press release format?

Here's a sample press release template you can use to format your press release correctly:

What should I put in my press release?

Let's stick with the theme: you run an vitamin web site specializing in weight-loss products.
Through the process described in the report, you've nailed down a nice, newsworthy topic – teenagers and how they deal with issues of weight. But that's a broad topic, not a story.
In the report, we provided a number of ideas for potential stories. Let's pick the first one and craft a press release.

The story: What do kids think about a "thin is in" society?
As you sift through your message boards looking for quotes, you see a trend appearing. There are lots of messages criticizing Hollywood actresses and pop singers for being too thin. Many girls are saying that seeing these women make them feel bad about their own bodies. A number of the boys are pointing out that they don't find ultra-thin women appealing.

Now you've got your angle -- your hook that will grab a reporter's attention:
Teenagers think that a "thin is in" society pretty much stinks.
Now let's get writing.

Press Release Headline

Before you write a word, remember this:

The reporter isn't interested in helping you make money or driving visitors to your site. He's looking for a story that will be interesting to his readers and pleasing to his editor. He could care less about your great selection, super customer service and commitment to quality. He wants to know only the info that will help him craft a good story about teens and their weight.

Take your ego out of it. Take your natural inclination to sell, sell, sell out of it. Look at your story with a cold, objective eye.

OK, let's get to our press release headline.

State your most exciting news, finding or announcement in as few words as possible. Emulate the headlines you see in the newspaper every day.

Bad Press Release Headline:


Good Press Release Headline:


Don't worry, you'll get to plug your website soon enough. In the meantime, you've just thrown a meaty hook at the reporter.

The Press Release Subhead

Subheads are remarkably useful tools, yet usually overlooked by press release writers. Basically, the press release subhead gives you the opportunity to flesh out your angle and further hook the reporter, without stepping on the drama of the press release headline.

Here's a headline/subhead combo I might use for this press release:
Website Forumgoers Weigh In: Teens Don't Find Ultra-Thin Celebs Attractive;
Girls Say Negative Self-Images Reinforced by Hollywood's Super-Skinny

The Press Release Lead

It's Journalism 101 -- the lead paragraph includes the who, what, when, where and how of the story. If the reporter were only to read the lead of a good press release, he'd have everything he needed to get started. There's no room for BS, hype or sell. Just the facts.

Bad Press Release Lead

Recently on, an online store dedicated to selling the best herbal products, teenagers had the chance to say what they thought about weight loss and whether a society that pressures young people to be thin is a good thing or a bad thing.

Good Press Release Lead

America's teenagers are angry at Hollywood for glamorizing ultra-thin bodies, and many girls say they feel too selfconscious about their bodies as a result of watching TV, movies and music videos. The findings are gleaned from more than six months of ongoing discussion and debate at the website According to President John Smith, anger and resentment toward the Hollywood ultra-thin runs deep, particularly among teenage girls.

The Rest of the Press Release

The balance of the press release serves to back up whatever claims were made in the lead and headline. In this case, you'd pull some quotes from the message boards (an aside here: if you really were to pull quotes in this fashion, you should only use the poster's name or identifying information with his or her permission. Otherwise, simply say "a 14 year old boy said..." or "a 16 year old Midwestern girl added..." Also, if this technique appeals to you, be certain that a disclaimer appears on your message boards notifying posters that all posts become your property and copyright). Use enough supporting material to make your case, and to demonstrate that, whatever angle you're promoting, it wasn't something you slapped together carelessly. Next, a quote will help put in some perspective:
"I was surprised by the level of anger expressed in these messages," Smith said. "Teenagers are far more clued into this issue than most people would imagine." Or, you might ask an expert for a quote:

"This demonstrates once again the need to teach young girls and boys about how to develop a positive self-image,"said Jane Doe, author of "I Like My Body Just As It Is". " has done a true service by bringing these attitudes to the public's attention."

The Boilerplate

Finally, spend a sentence or two describing your company and what you do: was founded in 1997 to provide consumers with a wide choice of vitamins, supplements and
herbal products. The site offers a range of articles, research materials and message forums for the health conscious consumer.

This paragraph is known as the "boilerplate" -- an old newspaper term meaning a block of standard text that's used over and over again (e.g. the explanation of symbols on the stock price page). In this case, it's text that you might use at the bottom of all your releases.

Place your boilerplate right above the # # #'s.
One more trick: below the ###'s, add a line that says something like:
If you'd like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with John Smith, please call Pat Brown at 555/555-2222 or e-mail Pat at

Some Key Things to Remember

* Stay away from hype-bloated phrases like "breakthrough", "unique", "state-of-the-art", etc.
* Always write it from a journalist's perspective. Never use "I" or "we" unless it's in a quote.
* Read lots of good newspaper writing, such as the New York Times or the Washington Post to get a feel for the style.
* Shorter is better. If you can say it in two pages, great. If you can say it in one page, better.

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Monday 28 June 2010

Advertising 101 - Lesson 4 USP 123

Your USP is the key to your market share. It's your Unique Selling Point (or proposition). The thing that makes you different to all the rest.

There are hundreds of varnishes and wood stains but only Ronseal does exactly what it says on the tin;
there are thousands of chocolates (I know, I've tried most of them) but only M&M's melt in your mouth and not in your hand; and there are a multitude of couriers but only FedEx guarantee to absolutely, positively get it there over night.
Your USP is the thing that sets you apart from all the others. I'm sure that other couriers can deliver a
package overnight and I'm sure that Ronseal aren't the only hardware suppliers with quality products but
what they have managed to do is position themselves as leaders of their fields.

They have shown their customers that they have a unique product or service to offer that (supposedly) can't be found anywhere else.

If you can capture this spirit in your own marketing, if you can position yourself as leader in your own
particular field who can offer something that no-one else can you can increase your marketing power
exponentially and at very little cost. So what do you have to offer? What can you do that no-one else can?

What are you the best at? Know that and you're on the way.

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Sunday 2 May 2010

Advertising 101 - Lesson 3 The Power of Headlines

One of the most influential factors in any successful ad campaign is your choice of headline. Studies of
readership patterns show that 80% of people will read the headline of a piece but only 20% will go on to read the rest.

After the headline the next most viewed body of your ad will be the p.s or footer portion.
Bearing all of that in mind before you right your headline you must be sure to keep its purpose in mind:

The purpose of your headline is NOT to sell your product, the purpose of your headline is to get people to read your ad (unless your headline is your ad).

Some fatal mistakes made by many advertisers in writing their headline:

• Too much information – Your headline needs to be punchy, particularly for magazine and newspaper
   advertising where space may be limited.

• Too little information – If you want people to read on you have to give them a reason why.

• Too many superlatives – Great, Smashing, Super - are you convinced?

• Too many exclamation marks – Exclamation marks, capital letters and garish colouring are the print
  equivalent to shouting. Let your product speak for itself.

So what does work?

Research into the 100 most successful headlines of all times has revealed a high consistency of certain
key words and phrases, these include:

• How to
• Do you
• You/your
• New

- Remember to remain honest I your headlines, if you reader feels duped they will soon lose interest no
  matter how good the product.

- Appeal to a personal sense of fear. Fear of loss, cost or inconvenience and your products ability to
  eliminate that will draw greater attention.

- Mention your product in your headline. You may be using the Headline to get people to read the ad  but its important to let them know what theyre going to be reading about.

- Clever is good but cocky is not. Avoid over egging the pudding with too many clever puns as it can be extremely off putting to readers.

- Positive language sells better than negative.

- Remember you re writing your ad to appeal to a person, an individual consumer with the ability to   make their own buying decision. Try out a few headlines and ask your friends and colleagues to tell you which one appeals more.

- Always test and measure your headline responses, changing just one or two words can increase your response rate by 50-100%.

"When you are assigned to write an ad, write a lot of headlines first. Spend hours writing headlines
or days if necessary. If you happen to think of a headline while walking down the street or while
riding the bus, take out pencil and paper and write it down.”

- John Caples

"On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows
that, unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money."

- David Oglivy

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Friday 23 April 2010

Voice of the Customer

Understanding the customer used to be “easy”. There was a formula and it worked. Then came the internet and the emergence of Web 2.0, bringing with it an explosion of digital touchpoints – emails, blogs, wikis, forums, and an array of collaborative media. Today, customers have a loud and clear voice. They openly share ideas, perceptions, and problems about products and companies. They create trusted communities and powerful, influential constituencies.
It’s an information-rich channel with a wealth of untapped customer intelligence. Traditional technologies can’t gain access or decipher the unstructured content that today’s customer conversations and insights are built upon.

Listen to it: 

Read it:

Thursday 1 April 2010

Advertising 101 - Lesson 2 - Like a RED RAG to a reader

Contrary to popular belief waving a red rag in front of a bull will not make him chase you; locking him up for days on end and then putting him in a big scary arena with thousands of people shouting at him however is enough to send anyone a little nutty.

Unlike the Bull, humans are not colour blind and the hues and shades you use in your advertising are all evoke different emotions, both positive and negative, in the viewer:

Red: excitement, fire, passion, sexuality, food / danger, anger, blood

Blue: Quietness, serenity, truth, dignity, constancy, reliability, power, professionalism, trustworthiness boredom, sadness

Green: Nature, freshness, health, growth, harmony, fertility, money / decay, toxicity, illness, greed,

Yellow: Warmth, joy, happiness, intellect, brightness /decay, sickness, jealousy, caution, cowardice

Purple: Wealth, royalty, sophistication, luxury, fantasy,intelligence, creativity, magic / Nightmares, craziness,frustration, doom

Orange: Creativity, fun, youth, enthusiasm, attraction,heat / Lack of quality, cheapness

Black: Sophistication, elegance, power, rebellion, mystery,power, elegance / formality, death, evil, mystery

White: Purity, cleanness, light, goodness, innocence,virginity, spaciousness, perfection / emptiness, loneliness.

Do your research and you'll find many different sources telling you that blue and yellow sell well or that green and purple should never be seen together. In truth you need to first find the colours that go best with your product or service. Just as they say you should never paint a kitchen
blue as there is no naturally blue food, it is equally imprudent to pick a fiery red to advertise your counseling services.

Think of your product, think of your market.

Once you have chosen your main colour theme everything else you choose should compliment it and work well to harmonise together. Try not to include more than 3 main shades in your artwork as the eye can get confused and it there is too much to process your potential customer will soon switch off.

If you need ideas and can't afford to get work professionally done then have a look at magazine ads, billboards and posters that work well and note down what you like about them. Research past successful campaigns in your field and see if you can notice a pattern.

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Friday 26 March 2010

Friday 19 March 2010

Blue Crayon In Campaign Newspaper January 2010

Barrett Veldsman  Feat. in Campaign Magazine. Come visit us at Blue Crayon 

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Lesson 1 - AIDA

This month Blue Crayon would like to introduce you to Aida.
There are some advertising techniques which are universal to any medium: print, television, radio, billboard, bus etc which if adhered to can help make a success of all your future advertising.

A - Attention
I - Interest
D - Desire
A - Action

Attention – You have a very short window of opportunity in which to grab your reader’s full attention so your choice of headline is critical. The purpose of your headline is to get people to read your ad, not to sell your product. Don’t
overcrowd your headline with too much information (remember you only have a few seconds). It’s important to test and monitor headlines, as a change of just one word can increase response rates by up to 100%

Interest – So now that you have their attention, what are you going to do to keep it? Too much information can be just as detrimental to your ad as too little. Also remember to consider colouring, fonts and consistency as the eye
travels down the page – garish does not equal interesting! 

Desire – You must create a desire within your readers for the product or service you offer. A want or a need that they cannot imagine being truly fulfilled anywhere else. Many things are interesting, it takes that extra something special to make them desirable.

Action – So many people forget what is vitally important in closing your ad and that is you need to call your reader to take action. If you don’t tell them what it is you want them to do how can you expect them to do it? You might want the action to be a sale or for them to place a call and request a brochure,
whatever it is be sure to make it easy for them. There’nothing worse than taking an interest in a product and not being able to figure out how to access it.

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Blue Crayon

Featured in Campaign as "Some of the best creatives working in advertising today" Claire Beale - Editor Campaign

We are an Advertising Agency offering integrated Marketing strategies and consulting services to companies around the world. Being a full service agency allows us to understand all the complexities of marketing and the importance of consistency in all aspects of branding. In addition to our traditional advertising expertise, our team includes specialists in 3D modelling, SFX and animation complimenting our cutting edge digital marketing options for companies wishing to incorporate modern technology in their advertising campaigns.