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The press release and beyond: Telling a dynamic story

John Harris

One of the most important – but underutilized tactics – is to communicate not just through major announcements, but to leverage ongoing content

Jon Harris, Conagra Brands


Telling your story quickly and accurately is more important than ever. Today’s fast-paced communications landscape can pose challenges – one misguided rumor, tweet, or misstep can cause irreparable damage to an individual, company, or brand. At the same time, we have numerous tools and opportunities to tell our stories. A unique message, viral video, or engaging event has the potential to connect with key audiences in a memorable way.

A communicator’s goal is to get the brand’s news out to the world. Always has been, still is. And there are more tools to do so than ever before. If you’re looking for the best tactics, here are a few things to keep in mind:

The press release can still work. As “traditional” a tactic as there is, the press release remains a very effective tool to share your story on your own terms to a broad audience in a timely and credible manner. Particularly in complex or sensitive situations, a well-crafted press release can ensure that everyone is “singing off the same song sheet” with a clear and consistent set of facts.

However, that does not mean press releases need to be written like legal papers. (Too many of them are and that’s why so many people frown on the practice.) At Conagra, we seek to use language that evokes the personality of our brands and leaves readers running to grab the latest innovations from Angie’s Boomchickapop popcorn or bold new flavors of Frontera’s authentic Mexican cuisine.

We also incorporate graphics into press releases in a relevant way to tell the story visually and distill a lot of information into easily digestible takeaways.

Communicate interactively. Press releases are far from the only tool in your toolbox, of course. Leveraging the broader arsenal of platforms at your disposal can help disseminate news in a more holistic and effective manner. Using websites, video, and social media to engage in a dynamic and regular dialogue fosters more opportunities for your audience to receive, understand, and share your narrative.

Using those platforms effectively, though, is the real trick. One of the most important – but underutilized tactics – is to communicate not just through major announcements, but to leverage ongoing content. At Conagra, we use our individual brand social channels and websites to feature ongoing content like recipes, quizzes, tips, and third-party content to keep people engaged with our brands.

Don’t be a wiener – be provocative. A compelling and out-of-the-box approach can make a story memorable for the right audience. It is important not to overlook the power of creating a tangible experience to engage your stakeholders.

To celebrate National Hot Dog Day, we passed out free hot dogs garnished with Gulden’s mustard at Chicago’s infamous Wieners Circle restaurant using the viral hashtag #DefendTheDog because everyone knows mustard is the only condiment for the Chicago Dog. The campaign resulted in an unforgettable video and a message that was authentic to our brand and the audience it serves.

Jon Harris is SVP and CCO at Conagra Brands.


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