Professional announcements are a staple for PR professionals. New hires. Promotions. A new certification. An award. All too often, such press releases are thrown on a stack of similar announcements until the reporter or editor has time to sift through them.
I’m here to tell you there’s no reason to send Sue’s promotion or Anand’s hiring to the bottom of the pile. There are things you can do with your press release and your pitch to catch the attention of an overworked editor. Check out a recent press release written about Bauknight, Pietras & Stormer CPA, Jessica Kaczor, who recently earned Certified Fraud Examiner accreditation and how I turned a basic announcement into a true newsworthy piece:
1) The headline.
It’s tempting to write the obvious: “Local Accountant Jessica Kaczor Earns CFE Designation.” Don’t do it! Instead, make it engaging so an editor wants to read further:
CPA Jessica Kaczor Takes on White Collar Crime.
Which one would you rather read? Now, let’s make the release even more intriguing with…
2) The head shot.
Always include a head shot with professional announcement press releases. It goes without saying that a photo makes the news more personal. But when you couple an engaging headline with a well-done head shot (READ: No smart phone pix, please!) and the release becomes that much more interesting.
3) The opening paragraphs.
Don’t dive right in with the individual’s news. Give the announcement relevance to the editor. This is particularly important if you want coverage in a B2B publication or website. Here’s what I did with the opening two paragraphs of Jessica’s press release to make it newsworthy:
In 2018, occupational fraud, sometimes called white collar crime, cost businesses around the world more than $7 billion in losses. Hardest hit were small businesses with less than 100 employees, whose average median loss was $200,000 versus $104,000 for those with more than 100 employees.
Bauknight, Pietras & Stormer (BPS), among the Southeast’s largest public accounting, assurance and tax consulting firms, seeks to make it harder for would-be criminals to harm what are, in most cases, their employers. Certified public accountant Jessica Kaczor has earned certification as a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), enabling BPS to expand its fraud prevention services to its national and regional clientele.
4) The “meat” of the release.
Typically with announcement releases, the “meat” of the release is background information on the featured person. In writing Jessica’s announcement, I really wanted to establish her as a subject matter expert for industry publications for future thought leadership stories. Sharing her motivation for earning the CFE designation makes the announcement more personal. Here’s what I did:
According to Kaczor, an audit professional whose practice is focused on the captive insurance, distribution, manufacturing and telecom industries, weak internal controls are responsible for nearly half of all fraud cases. Internal audits and management reviews detect only about 25 percent of internal fraud. In most cases, victims recovered nothing.
“Any financial loss is damaging, but losses in the six figures is enough to put a privately held company out of business,” says Kaczor. “Many times the financial losses are incremental and occur over many months so it’s not obvious what is happening.”
A desire to create awareness among BPS clients and a love of psychology motivated Kaczor to earn the CFE certification. “As an auditor, I’m trained to look for inconsistencies in a company’s financial reporting. CFE training amplifies that awareness and brings an entirely new level of insight into how and why people commit fraud,” Kaczor explains. “The goal at BPS is to help clients understand their risk and then implement proactive anti-fraud strategies to protect them.”
5) Leadership validation.
Obviously, an employer is proud of the person featured in the release. But don’t include a quote that says that. Give the quote some depth. In this case, Jessica’s certification allows Bauknight, Pietras & Stormer, CPAs, to offer a new service to its clients, underscoring the importance of the announcement. Check out this quote:
BPS Managing Shareholder Russell Bauknight says expanded fraud prevention services are a welcome addition to the firm’s professional services. “BPS is pleased to offer our clients expanded forensic accounting and anti-fraud strategies thanks in part to Jessica’s commitment to this highly specialized discipline. No organization is immune from occupational fraud. Risk is particularly acute for smaller companies that have fewer resources to dedicate to fraud prevention. We look forward to helping BPS clients avoid losses due to fraud.”
6) Add something unexpected.
What’s fun about Jessica is she’s also a classically trained dancer who has danced professionally. The mental image of this graceful young woman cracking the heads of criminals is memorable and makes her announcement rise to the top of an editor’s stack. I added this unexpected fact to her release in a subtle way, but also played it up in my pitches. Here’s the closing paragraph of her announcement:
Kaczor, who joined BPS in 2016, earned a Master of Accounting and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Kaczor is also a classically trained dancer who continues to perform professionally.
Not only did Jessica’s release get picked up in local publications, a leading insurance industry website editor immediately requested a thought leader article from Jessica. Another global professional association picked up the news for their media outreach. We also have leveraged Jessica’s CFE status on BPS CPAs’ social platforms and client e-newsletter.
Want more tips to amp up your public relations efforts? I’m happy to share ideas. Let’s connect. In the meantime, check out the Lux-Writes website.