Recent studies published coincidentally by The New York Times, Reuters Institute and Business Wire Media Survey are highlighting how journalism is changing in order to survive. New technology brought in new challenges and revolutionized our relationship to media consumption.
The smartphone is our connection to the world. 51% of consumers are getting their news from their mobile device and the trend is going upwards. We hop from one site to an app, and from one social media platform to the next. Our eyes scan thousands of pieces of information and we only stop when an image is appealing or when the news is pertinent.
What does it say? First, that journalists must today master editorial and technology techniques, social media specifics and creativity. Secondly, that they must constantly train to acquire new competences matching the pace of digital evolution.
For PR professionals the takeaway is this: if journalistic practices are changing, it is obvious that the news release has to change as well.
Mobile = Visual
Multimedia is not an option anymore. It is the entry door to visibility and engagement. With Business Wire, images and other multimedia included with a release are sent to photography press agencies and are posted on many news sites and social media platforms. They are available for journalists and other news consumers to download in a hi-res format. If you look at a news feed (AFP, AP…) on a mobile app, news with multimedia is news that gets the most attention.
PR professionals must accept these transformations if they want their information to perform. We now live in a digital era and crafting a news release requires new adjustments. Forget the old habits! Here are a few tips that may help:
1/ Anticipation is key - Include the press release in your communications strategy. Think about your message, your target, what you are expecting from the release….
Don’t choose your multimedia at the last minute. If you need a headshot of your CEO or a picture of your new product, anticipate to get the best shot. If you are exhibiting at a tradeshow, take pictures of your booth so that they are available for later use. Create a photo library where you can dig in at any time.
2/ Forget the text only release – A NYT report says that 800 words articles don’t do great on the web. And 63% of the world are visual learners, so why are your news releases text-only? Add multimedia because the old adage that an image is worth 1,000 words rings truer than ever in the digital age. And don’t forget to include a detailed caption of your multimedia asset. News release multimedia captions can be 100-words long so take the time to describe what your multimedia asset is trying to convey.
3/ Be creative - Innovate when preparing your news release. Utilize the latest storytelling tools, such as interactive photos and videos. There are numerous shareable multimedia options that will engage journalists and consumers.
4/ Think like a journalist - Present your message in a journalistic format. The media covers stories they deem newsworthy so offer them a story that mirrors their usual content. Give them what they are looking for: visuals and quality content.
5/ Think social media - Write pertinent and quality content; it will drive sharing and engagement. Engagement is a major goal when issuing a news release because it shows that audiences are interested in your message. The question to ask yourself is how to maximize engagement. Choose the community you want to reach and craft messages adapted to its members.
Like journalists, you should master the popular social media platforms and know exactly which one is the most appropriate for the type of message you want to deliver.
6/ Searchability - Journalists love Google when researching data and info to write an article. To make sure your press release comes on top of searches, it needs to be written for optimization. The first 5-7 words of your news release headline becomes your URL string. These words must be carefully chosen. Click here to learn how to write a headline Google will love. And don’t forget to include multimedia and captions. The distribution process by your news service provider (Business Wire, for example) will post your news release on multiple sites on the web and facilitates its archive on the Internet. News release optimization and distribution by an experienced partner will ensure your news release is easily found across the web.
7/ Headlines and Sub-Headlines – Your headline can be as long or as short as you would like, but they should include all the information a reporter needs to see to open your news story. Most editorial systems showcase the first 55 characters of your headline while search engines will show up to 70 characters. This means you have between 8-15 words in your headline to entice your readers into opening your release. Since sub-headlines are not seen until the news release is open, be sure to include the impact of your news on your desired audience in your headline.