Ian Capstick posted an excellent piece about news releases and online newsrooms in the PR column of the PBS MediaShift blog yesterday. (And of course we were delighted that he chose a release about the Social Media Roadmap webinar series I did with Marketwire as his example.)
Looking back at the history of the press release one can see that the way we format a release to reach the media has changed as the media has changed. Back in 1906 press releases came into being. They were specifically formatted as a way to get information to newspapers. They were crafted for that medium The releases were written in the news story format of an inverted triangle and the need to fit pieces of news into the layout of the paper was taken into account.
Then came radio. PR agencies started to add recorded interviews and sound bites to releases sent to radio stations because that was what the medium demanded. If you wanted radio coverage you figured out what radio journalists and editors wanted and you supplied your news in that format. Nobody thought this was weird or that the press release had died. It’s just smart PR.
Along came TV and the Video News Release was born. Another smart move on the part of forward thinking PR people who stayed abreast of technology and the need to evolve with a new medium. Sending a TV newsroom a video news release in the exact format that made it easy for a news editor to use often got you the coverage you wanted. Companies sprang up to service this need and PR people had to learn a new skill – video news.
So why is the Internet and social media any different? Why is a social media news release a strange and foreign idea? It’s not a case of killing the press release. It’s just presenting your news in the format that gets the best results.
As long as there are newspapers a press release will exist. Radio stations still like audio releases and sound bites. But now there are so many online opportunities for exposure and most of them require content in multimedia format with embed codes. It just makes good PR sense to use a social media release.
Journalists today are under pressure. Newspapers and magazines all have websites. A website has a voracious appetite for content. As an example, most stories in the Wall Street Journal say ‘More on wsj.com’. Print publications are extending their coverage online. They have podcasts and video on their websites. Tthey have blogs Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. And that means they need more content and they need it in new ways.
Online journalists, editors and bloggers want access to news in a way that makes it easy for them to use it. PR people need to acknowledge the shift and learn to present their news in the format that best suits this new medium.
It’s not rocket science. It’s just good PR.
The same evolution has applied to how we supply access to all our news content. It started with printed press kits we painstakingly compiled and sent off to the media. Then we had Electronic Press Kits in digital form, often on a CD. Once websites became mainstream this moved to an online newsroom. That’s been the PR standard for at least six years now.
But once again we’ve seen a big shift in technology. It’s time to move up a notch and make your newsroom a social media newsroom.
- Offer links to all your social content. (A recent analysis of Fortune 100, INC 500 and Entrepreneur Hot 100 sites shows that less than 20 percent of the companies that are active in social media have links to this content on their websites.)
- Publish all news releases in social media format on your own website
- Add all multimedia assets to your newsroom
- Add these to your press releases
- Optimize your news content for search so it can be found
- Syndicate all news content in RSS feeds
- Provide embed codes with images and video so bloggers or journalists can easily use your content
Take a look at the Society for New Communication Research social media newsroom
It’s not rocket science – it’s just good PR