Writers and editors are lazy people. We sincerely want to give your company positive press, promote your important endeavors, and help make you lots of money; but really, we don't want to go to a lot of trouble and we aren't bright enough to figure out much on our own. That's where a concise, well-written press release comes in.
When a mishmash of incomplete sentences, unfocused and erroneous hype - and worst of all, no contact information - comes across our desks, we're thinking, "What am I supposed to write about? Who sent me this? Why should I care?" Then we usually take a two-hour lunch and get drunk on paint thinner or something. It happens in mainstream often enough, but it's worse in the adult industry, where many press releases are too few and far between or baffling and even completely useless.
AVN Online chatted with two adult industry publicists about the pitfalls of press releases and how folks can turn a messy informational black hole into a succinct information trajectory missile that makes us laugh, cry, and run your release - or write a news story about its subject - with pride and pleasure. Publicist Carly Milne, founder of Sin Spin has clients including WantedList.com, Madness Pictures, Zero Tolerance, Grand Opening!, and Pussy Pucker Pots. Brian Gross of BSG Public Relations started in the music business, working as a publicist for Warner Bros., Reprise Records, and Elektra Records, before delving into adult as in-house publicist for Vivid Video. Gross started BSG Public Relations three years ago and has been successfully balancing work for mainstream and adult.
AVN Online: What goes into writing a good press release?
Carly: Wit, proper conveyance of information, all the facts, a good quote, and contact information.
Brian: You have to make it eye-catching to the reader. The [press outlet] has to have a reason to run it, so give them something to latch on to.
AO: Should press releases be short and sweet or long and detailed?
Carly: Keep your press release to one page. It's in your best interest to keep things short, sweet, and relatively witty. Make it an interesting read so that it grabs attention. You're there to talk about what' s fresh and new and now and oh-my-god-you-have-to-write-about-this!
Brian: If it's more than a page or maybe two, writers throw it out the window. You have to be in the mind of the person you're sending the release to. There's a balance between the information your client wants you to get across and the story that the writer wants. You want to maximize your potential coverage and not confuse the writer. It negates sending it at all if you give them so much information they get baffled and don't write anything. If in five seconds he's already confused, you've lost him and won't get him back. Simplicity is so important in the point you're trying to get across.
AO: What are the key ingredients to a press release?
Carly: Start with a headline that's going to grab attention, and put it in the subject of your e-mail. Your first paragraph sets it up and says, "These are the basics of what's going on, this is who's behind it, and this is why it's important to you." You get a quote from one or two people at the company about how wonderful what they are promoting is, and then the contact information. You want to give enough information so that [the writer] is intrigued to contact you to get more, but also enough so that if they want to write a story based on just the press release, they could.
Brian: You need a catchy header, a good first paragraph, and a good first sentence. You need to get them intrigued right off the bat. A writer needs as much information as quickly as possible, as they're on a deadline. After the first couple of paragraphs with all your info, you want a quote from the key person from the company you're representing. Don't put your own quote in; writers don't care what the publicist has to say. The last paragraph is a tight mission statement overview of company info. Then the contact info at the bottom. You really should get what you need within a page. If you have more info than that, then you should think about putting it into another press release; spread it out over time. You could get two stories instead of trying to get everything into one story.
AO: How much company history do you include?
Brian: You don't need the entire history of the company in every release. That's what a bio and a press kit are for. That's for when the writer says, "I want more info." At first, give them what they need and then if they need something more, they will ask.
Carly: If it's a brand-new company, you want to talk briefly about the people behind it, but you're not there to be a historian.
AO: What's the worst thing you can do with a press release?
Carly: Make it boring. It depends on what end you're talking about. Also, do not misspell things or have grammatical, punctuation, or factual errors. People won't take you seriously. They'll take a look at that and say, "Why the hell should I write about these people?" The worst mistake you can make is writing a dry press release that's boring as hell and punctuating it with spelling errors.
Brian: Make sure if you attach artwork that it is a file that can be easily opened and that it's high-resolution, usually 300 dpi. No use sending a JPEG if it can't appear in print or on the Web.
AO: What's the difference between doing mainstream and adult PR?
Carly: For adult sources, I'm more likely to swear and use terms like "anal gaping" and "cum swapping" and "cocksucking." Sometime I write two versions of a press release, one for adult and one for mainstream. The one for mainstream press focuses on the people behind the company, to show they are legitimate and not sleazy perverts. In adult, they don't give a fuck who is running the business, they just want to know, "What can I get from it? What does it have to do with porn?" So for adult, I could be as mouthy as I wanted to be. The majority of my mainstream press releases are very professional to a certain extent, whereas the adult press release is much more tongue-in-cheek, funny, and full of curse words.
Brian: I don't think, until recently, porn companies even thought about having publicists or hiring out for such a thing. Publicity and press release writing in the adult world is very new. Adult publications used to be a very small market but now with the Internet, Websites, and mainstream crossover appeal, porn news is read widely. It's important you treat a press release with the professional manner it deserves, like you're sending it to NBC News. At the same time, if your press release is announcing something about "cum swapping whores," while you want to be professional, you can afford to be creative or witty because of what you're writing about. So give the information, but with a spice of life and some creativity too. Don't be crude and have your release read like the back of a video box. The job of a publicist is to figure out what works and what is appropriate for their client and how to make that work for the publications they are dealing with. It's important now because there are more outlets and with the mainstreaming of the entire industry, you're going to be sending your releases to mainstream outlets. So you have to send them a good release or they are going to think you're just another porn company and aren't professional and that's degrading to all the people that are trying to make this a legitimate business.