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The News Release: It’s Alive!

You may be only a headline into this blog right now and already asking yourself: Wait, aren’t news releases a little ‘old news’? You’re not alone in thinking this unfortunate thought. The sad fact is that the Internet has put the idea into audience’s heads that the news (press) release is, altogether, obsolete. And we can blame the Internet for that supposed assumption. Social media, blogs, E-News have led to the demise of the traditional news release. Now, more than ever, there are zillions of ways businesses can share their news with the masses. And with the media needing to cover more and more material, in less and less time, a new type of news release has arisen. This news release is crammed with more information than any one person could possibly digest, just in the hope of media finding some newsworthy bits after an ample time of digging. As we’ve looked at last month, reporters have very little time to go sifting through these mountains of new types of news releases. As a public relations professional, I still find the traditional news release to be as valuable as ever. When a news release focuses in on one single topic, that is newsworthy and has an interesting angle, it can do wonders to increase your media attention. After all, in this busy media world standing out is key.

Here 7 tips to make your traditional news release worth a reporter’s time:

  1. Grab Attention: Reporters are busy. Each day dozens or news releases will cross their desk. Make yours stands out. Write your release a great headline, which not only gives the reporter the gist of what they’re about to read, but amps up their interest. Sending an email? Make sure that subject line will catch their eye as their filtering emails!
  2. Make it Matter: Make sure you’re writing this news release for a reason. Sure, your company’s holiday gift exchange extravaganza may be interesting to you, but the media won’t care one bit. It takes time to strategically come up with stories that the media will care about, hence the need for PR professionals. So take time to reflect on whether or not an outsider would consider the information valuable.
  3. Back it Up: There’s nothing the media loves more than hardcore facts and figures. Back up what you’re saying, and don’t fluff up your release. Sometimes interesting facts/figures can also make a difference in whether or not you garner media interest. Of course, this won’t work all the time. Some stories may not deal with any facts/figures.
  4. Keep it Short: I might sound like a recorder, but remember that reporters are busy. So expecting them to tackle a 2+ page release is outlandish. When I worked in the newsroom, even if the story had potential, a lot of reporters (and myself) would throw the entire release out if it was exceptionally long. A good size for a release is a page to a page and a half. If you find the need to extend that, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate.
  5. Break it Up: Many reporters will simply scan releases for pertinent and eye-catching information. So a great way to catch their eye is to break up the release with bullet points, when you can.
  6. Give Them What They Need: If you have pictures or additional materials that you feel your media would fine valuable, send those along with the release. Normally, when provided sufficient enough information to begin drafting a story, the process is much easier for both you and your media contact. Not to mention, they’ll usually thank you!
  7. Stop Lame Quotes: Lastly, (and this is a pet peeve of mine) STOP the canned quotes. “We’re so excited for… We think it’s wonderful that…” The media already knows that your business is excited about the story, that’s why you’re sending a news release. So these types of quotes are meaningless, and 90 percent of the time go un-used. And they’re downright laughable. Send your media something they can USE. Include valuable information in your quotes, and everyone will be happier.

So what do you think of news releases?  Still use them?  Or do you find them obsolete?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below! Photo Credit

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