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Dmitri Vietze
Aug 06, 2021
5 min read

The RPS PR Model: Articulate

Remember at the beginning of this series when I said most people start off a PR process with writing a press release? The press release format is insignificant—I’ve secured feature stories in major publications with a short email. Yet the first time someone wants to get some press, they look up what a press release is supposed to look like. Before you get locked into a format, get locked into a story-telling philosophy.

Articulate: Forget the Press Release Format

The rock paper scissors PR contraption: Crystallize. Articulate. Amplify.

Sure, if you have a big launch that has significance to your target media or, better yet, your entire field, a press release can be a great way to make sure you communicate the main message, focus on the basic info, include the details, and have links or contact information for more information. But all of that assumes you have nailed the story. Most of the time, you have not. So prioritize the story over the format. 

What makes a great story? It depends.

In the old days, you would send a press release and news outlets would run the information, sometimes verbatim, sometimes with original content. It was a significant tool for getting the word out about a business to millions of people. It wasn’t always that way. The first press release was a train wreck. 

No, I mean it was literally about a train wreck. It was a Pennsylvania Railroad accident in Atlantic City in 1906 where 50 people died. This was back when companies like railroads or large utilities or mining companies wanted to hide any problems. But an early PR guy named Ivy Lee decided it was better to release the truth, and his writing was so direct that the New York Times ran it verbatim.

So everyone started sending press releases. First by mail, then by fax, then by email. Then paid newswire services came along and press releases started being sent by the hundreds. And thousands. Now there are over 5000 press releases sent per day. That’s almost 2 million per year. But quantity isn’t the only problem.

The first press release was a train wreck. Text overlaid on an early black and white photograph of a railway accident.

Press releases are ignorable. Even Wikipedia’s official entry on press releases until very recently said sending press releases “makes the distributed media boring and similar to the output of other firms” because they are all uniform. So what do you do?

The media of all sizes need constant content. They want eyeballs and attention and the way they get that is by providing unique content for their specific audience. What messages get attention? The ones that get an emotional response. Why? Chemicals!

Thanks to a neuroeconomist named Paul Zak we know that the chemicals in our brain and body are what make stories so engaging. It’s physiological. There’s cortisol: the stress hormone comes out during tense moments in a story, which allows us to focus. There’s oxytocin: the feel-good chemical that promotes connection and empathy. And there’s dopamine: a happy ending to a story triggers the limbic system, our brain’s reward center, to release dopamine which makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic.

Stories, not press releases, are how you evoke these biologically-triggered emotional responses. 

By first crystallizing the essence of what your company does, you set yourself up to truly understand what emotions you can evoke through storytelling. Articulation of your story is not about the format of a press release, it’s about getting that emotional reaction.  

Not only can your story be in the form of a short email, it can be in the form of an infographic, a video, or a podcast. We’ve articulated clients’ stories via comic books and trading cards too! 

Our measure of a successful articulation is being memorable, repeatable, and sticky. 
Once we have nailed your story, it’s time to amplify.

Want press releases that tell sticky stories?

About Dmitri Vietze:

Dmitri Vietze

Born in Nashville, Dmitri moved to NYC as a teen where he busked in the subways while studying music at “the Fame High School” for Music and the Arts. After earning his business degree, he leaned into his entrepreneurial bent and launched rock paper scissors in 1999. His vision was to combine cutting edge technology and deep organic storytelling to help clients crystallize their missions in compelling ways and amplify them in innovative ways.

He continues to lead the company from music to tech and into other fields that are changing the world every day. When others told him that the company he envisioned would not succeed in college town Bloomington, Indiana, he took that as a challenge and has built a collaborative team that leans into the Midwestern ethic of hard work, warmth, and caring. Dmitri stays at the cutting edge of music tech innovation by hosting the weekly Music Tectonics podcast and the annual Music Tectonics conference. He can also be found speaking on stage at conferences ranging from SXSW to Music Biz on new approaches to publicity, innovation, and resourcefulness.

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