Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.
There are many ways to “get the word out” about your company, with services like Prezly, PressKing and PR Web (which recently found itself in quite the controversy), and yet, press releases still often feel rather dry, with little imagery or personality.
The bland nature of this medium makes sense in some ways, given its sole utility of quickly spewing out tons of information, but Wyoming-based Pitch Engine sees the potential to move the modern press release into a highly visual and increasingly social direction, and so the startup is launching a major redesign and new mobile apps to make it happen.
The New Pitch Engine
TNW first covered Pitch Engine back in 2009, where we commended the company for its social media-packed releases and emphasis on imagery. Little has changed regarding its core mission, but the service’s presentation is now shifting dramatically.
Rolling out this week, Pitch Engine’s new release places emphasis on visuals, with images and video appearing on the left underneath an anchored logo. On the right, you’ll see a persistent social navigation bar, followed by the pitch’s title, a brief summary and the full release.
It’s difficult to compare the new design (above), to the original design (below). See the difference here and here.
The posting/editing interface is also noteworthy for its simplicity and approachability.
Following the lead of Pitch Engine’s redesigned pitch pages, the service’s “News Rooms” have evolved as well, featuring expanding tabs and an image gallery of past announcements.
The News Room looks quite like a profile, and with that connection made, the new pitch pages begin to feel reminiscent of blog posts. This is where Pitch Engine seems to reside, somewhere between the traditional release and a new kind of publishing platform for brands.
Following the redesign, Pitch Engine is launching companion apps for iPhone, iPad and Android users, letting brands publish on the go. This helps the service stand out as a casual tool for broadcasting announcements. Pitch Engine demos this in its promo video below:
You’ll also notice something curious in that video. As soon as the pub posts its announcement, a follower hears about it through the app. That’s right, Pitch Engine has designed its app to support both brands and their fans.
This somewhat confusing system can be likened to a street team, and while we’re betting that a majority of customers wont be interested in early notice alerts, there is certainly a niche to fill for brand advocates. How this side of the service evolves will be particularly interesting, as it greatly changes the dynamics of the app, pushing Pitch Engine into murky waters.
A New Look At The Press Release
In the past, Pitch Engine experimented with commenting functionality to encourage a social dynamic, but now Pitch Engine is focusing on a design that lets companies tell stories that are approachable and easy to share
Pitch Engine press releases, if you want to call them that, are far more consumer-focused than you’d normally expect — a major departure from traditional company announcements.
The success of this design, however, will emerge in its use, as a user-friendly design could alienate press outlets. Alternately, even the most dedicated of consumers may not be interested in company updates outside of Twitter and Facebook. In short, Pitch Engine may or may not be able to please both ends of the spectrum.
Product releases rarely arrive without issues, and Pitch Engine is no exception. Pitch pages created through the classic interface wont be upgraded to the new design. Additionally, as the service rolls out this week, bugs may arise.
Still, despite glitches, TNW found the service to be quite impressive. Pitch Engine is taking a highly interesting direction, and is worth watching for brands and consumers alike.
Check it out via the links below.
➤ Pitch Engine: Web, iPhone, iPad and Android
TNW has its own press release solution, PressDoc, which we built in response to recieving a huge number of bland, weak pitches.
Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
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