Are Your Releases Positioned to Reach Your Target Audience?


What do you do when your company has exciting news that will likely meet with strong opposition by the exact target audience you are trying to reach? Preemptively planning and precisely positioning your message to best accommodate that specific demographic could be the best approach.

This is exactly what Yahoo! did in a press release announcing the company’s acquisition of Tumblr, a blogging website, by promising “not to screw it up.” Prior to the official announcement, Tumblr’s users (mostly made up of teenagers and those in their early 20s), reacted unfavorably to the idea.

Perhaps this is because of Yahoo!’s history of acquisitions and mergers, many of which proved to be unsuccessful. This track record could explain the reasoning behind Yahoo!’s rather direct messaging in their press release. Heading into the announcement Yahoo! knew some users would not respond well. Dissatisfied users had already curated a petition which cites that Tumblr’s “entire interface will be changed” and that “millions of users will delete their accounts” after the Yahoo! acquisition. Other’s took to their favorite social platform and expressed their displeasure in true Tumblr fashion. These threats are far from hollow, as die-hard users erected a new page on the site titled Meltdowns About Yahoo! Buying Tumblr that’s dedicated entirely to—you guessed it—Yahoo! buyout meltdowns.

Yahoo! did not address any interface changes in their announcement, but stressed that Tumblr’s mission and irreverent tone will remain. Even Tumblr founder David Karp issued a statement, on behalf of the Tumblr staff, taking on a very conversational tone and again reassuring users: “Before touching on how awesome this is, let me try to allay any concerns: We’re not turning purple.”

New CEO Marissa Mayer, appears to be focused on re-positioning Yahoo! among its more successful social media competitors. So given the circumstances, both past and future, did Yahoo!’s PR team choose the right angle for its news release? It is too soon to say, but their approach is certainly worth noting. Not all announcements should be managed in the same method, but a few basic guidelines can help you determine the best approach. Here are a few tips to consider the next time you select an angle for any release regarding a company’s special announcement.

4 Considerations For Your News Release Strategy:

  1. Identify your lead
    Perhaps the most important thing to consider when drafting a news release is determining your key messages. We’ve revisited this theme of storytelling in a couple of posts recently and how it enhances your overall messaging. Be it visual or not, your objective is to figure out exactly what you want to say and then say it in the most comfortably concise way possible. Yahoo!’s recent announcement nailed this tactic with blunt and concise language used to clearly communicate their intentions to their target audience.
  2. Pick your audience
    Before you can present your message in a clear, concise and effective manner, you must know who you are presenting your message to. Yahoo!’s audience consisted of Tumblr users who, as we cited earlier, are mostly in their teens. This demographic is accustomed to instant gratification and typically, do not take the time or exhibit the patience to de-code long-winded message. Yahoo!’s blunt approach and promise to “not screw it up” was aimed directly at their core audience. In an effort to appeal to Tumblr users, CEO Marissa Mayer provided her own Tumblr post with an entertaining and popular “Keep Calm and Carry on” message that transitioned to a “Now Panic and Freak Out” graphic.
  3. Keep it fresh
    A high volume of news announcements are distributed daily, and in Yahoo!’s case, acquisitions and mergers are a company commonality. It is critical to be mindful of ways in which you can improve your releases, whether it’s including a compelling storytelling element, multi-media component or some other type of enhanced messaging. Elevate your traditional news release by using a new tactic to present your messaging without risking the effectiveness of your release. One example is including a shocking statement in the sub header, as Yahoo did in the Tumblr announcement.
  4. Be Relevant
    It is important to have a solid feel for the pulse of your target audience’s culture. Pay attention to any relevant trends or news and look for ways to tie them into your news release. Understand the lingo and preferred communication methods being used by your intended demographic, and adapt your communication to take the conversation to them, where and how they want to receive it.

Today anyone can become a publisher and a large segment of the population gathers news from non-traditional sources. As a result our audiences are inundated with information. We have to be creative to cut through the noise and effectively deliver our message. The traditional news release still holds a vital role in our communication efforts, but we cannot assume that it translates to each of our audiences. As long as you have a clear understanding of the: who (are you talking to); what (do you need to communicate) and where (does your audience gather news) of any situation, you have the ability to reach your audience.

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