Having spent years at PR agencies and working on freelance content creation projects, I can confidently say that most communication breakdowns occur when clients can’t pinpoint what they want their PR moment(s) to be. The time and effort spent going back and forth not only eats away at the budget but it can create team friction and drive poor results. This can be especially true when it comes to key messaging associated with a specific PR campaign (like a product launch, earnings announcement, etc.).
So, how do you ensure the right messages are rising to the top and that you’re working well with your PR and marketing team? One valuable tool is the Hero Statement.
In case you’re not familiar with the term, let me explain. A hero statement is 1-4 sentences that illustrate why people should care about a specific moment in time (think of it as an evolved version of the classic “who, what, when, where, and why,” but a bit more focused and productive). Why is this valuable? When dealing with the press (or buyers), today’s marketing and PR teams need to be concise. You get about 15 seconds or 3-4 sentences to land a hook (which then drives the prospect to consume more content). If you can’t build a compelling hero statement, then you can’t grab someone’s attention.
Having helped numerous B2B tech clients define their hero statements, I’ve learned some valuable lessons and want to share what I feel is the recipe for creating a great hero statement. I’ll dive into these with specifics, but at a high level, there are four key questions you need to answer when creating a hero statement. Who are my stakeholders/audience with this news/item? How does this goal tie into the larger picture? Can we validate our claim? Why is this unique/important?
A hero statement justifies the existence of the PR moment and answers the questions your marketing and communications teams need to know in a succinct, pithy manner. Let’s dive into specifics:
Who are my stakeholders/audience?
I can’t think of a company that wouldn’t like to be mentioned in a top-tier news outlet like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal – as long as it’s not a scandal piece. But most of the time, a company announcement (or story pitch) is trying to reach potential and existing customers who may occasionally read top-tier outlets but tend to rely more on specific tech or trade publications for advice.
My point: When creating a hero statement, marketing, communications, or PR teams need to identify their target audience first and understand where that audience consumes information. For many of our clients, external stakeholders are potential or existing customers like enterprises, small businesses, IT teams, channel partners, managed service providers and the journalists and analysts that cater to them. Determining who you’re trying to reach will shape which messages are primary or secondary in the hero statement.
Additionally, it helps to have an understanding of who your internal stakeholders are. Internal stakeholders are your peers, leadership and other teams affected by the news. They can play a role in approvals, messaging and support of the news by providing information, a spokesperson, or additional resources.
How does this goal tie into the larger picture?
A PR moment can quickly become a headache when clients don’t know how their announcement fits into the larger picture. News doesn’t exist in a vacuum. So, before you fill out an intake form or schedule a meeting to talk about your next press release, you need to understand how a new feature (or other news element or pitch) aligns with your company’s vision and the overall evolution of the market. That needs to be reflected in a hero statement. This might be at a micro level within a specific product niche (for example, a new approach for inspecting encrypted network traffic without decryption) or a macro level (for example, a new AI copilot that automates endpoint protection).
Without context, your story or news often means nothing. Understanding how one moment affects the next, two steps, three steps down the road makes things easier to prioritize and pinpoints part of the “why it matters” for press and buyers.
Can you validate your claim?
A hero statement is meant to be somewhat of a mic drop. It makes a claim (based on fact) and explains why the reader should care. Ones that resonate are often built around strong validation. It helps answer the “prove it” question.
One of my favorite bass players, Jaco Pastorius, is quoted as saying, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.” Though it might not be called out directly in the hero statement (i.e. by using a specific stat or data point), you can passively validate your claims. For example, instead of saying AI copilots speed website coding by 95%, you could say AI copilots dramatically increase website coding efficiency (this is just a made-up data point, by the way). But it’s worth noting that if you’re making this type of claim, you need to have the data available should someone ask (or include it in other supporting assets).
It’s worth noting that data is not the only type of validation (though usually the easiest to incorporate into a hero statement). Other types include client statements, proprietary reports, analysts’ research, or even sales figures.
Why is it unique/important?
Novelty. A dirty word that makes me think of prop comedians, tchotchkes, and problems invented by infomercial creators. But, when creating a hero statement, it is vital to communicate the uniqueness and importance of the claim.
Does this story tie into or buck larger industry trends? Does the moment tie into issues the general public is concerned about, i.e., personal security, environmental impact, major shifts in the workforce? Are your competitors doing it, if not, then why? Why are you doing it? If no one asked for it, is it necessary? These are all important questions that help your PR team understand the big “ah-ha” of the moment and make your hero statement strong.
Okay, so I’ve just subjected you to some of the questions I think are important in crafting a hero statement. Now, let me share an example of a good one.
ACME Systems’ new AI platform makes data engineers’ job of building and training LLMs obsolete. The platform, which runs on an open-source base that can then be fine-tuned, saves companies millions of dollars. It isn’t just changing job priorities, it’s changing team structures, products and industry initiatives.
Crafting a great hero statement should be a collaborative process with your PR team. While it should be part of your marketing messages, it’s used by PR to hook journalists and influencers. In the world of press pitching, PR pros need to be concise and have statements that are packed with value. And your PR team understands what those hero statements should look like. Listen to their insight and advice. Heck, challenge them to create it. It could mean the difference between them landing a story and press passing.
If you’re looking for a great messaging partner or a team that understands creating compelling content, let’s chat.