I love a 2014 news release.
There I said it.
It might seem strange to declare adoration to a bunch of words announcing “news,” but if you have read thousands of these pieces as I have in my career, then you come to appreciate the good ones, value the better ones, and love the great ones.
A press release is used to announce news to the media, and the media then decides to share the story, write additional content or ignore you completely. In 2014 the ever-eligible bachelor George Clooney became engaged to Human Rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin. All major news outlets covered this historic event speculating on how Ms. Alamuddin secured such a trophy, why George decided to “settle down,” and what the impending nuptials might entail. Would Matt Damon be the best man?
One media outlet took a completely different approach. The Slate wrote and disseminated an announcement that I will forever consider to be a real example of feminism in practice. They published the engagement news in an article penned by Ben Mathis-Lilley. The article reads:
She was educated at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University, and New York University School of Law and speaks Arabic and French fluently, according to the law firm’s website.
Alamuddin has advised United Nations former secretary-general Kofi Annan on Syria, represented Ukraine’s ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in challenging her detention before the European Court of Human Rights and has also represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in extradition proceedings.
Alamuddin, born in Beirut, once worked for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when Sotomayor was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals.*
Her husband-to-be is an American actor and director who played “Kip Howard” on the television mystery program Murder, She Wrote.
Have you ever read anything more brilliant in its approach?
Alamuddin’s accomplishments were positioned upfront and center and prompting the reader to question if Mr. Clooney were, in fact, worthy of such a heroine. Wait, who is Mr. Clooney? Subtle and hilarious in his demotion in this coupledom news by referencing his most obscure role.
The perspective is unique mainly because Alamuddin’s professional accomplishments were given more weight than the pending marriage or wedding. Women are often defined by relationship status, their husbands’ jobs, or the age with either of the first two. There was no mention of her physical appearance, either parties’ previous relationships, or speculation about what dress she would wear.
It’s discouraging that we still expect and consume this one-dimensional reporting about women, especially around relationships and careers. This is why seven years later, I am still thinking about this approach and how Prequal can use this as a litmus for our own content and voice.
I have not seen this approach taken since 2014; a Prequal Love Letter is merited.