Posts Tagged ‘newsrooms’


PR Tips for Dealing With Digital Journalism from Community Service Public Relations Council

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Flickr Image: atriumIn St. Louis, three web managers/editors from local TV, radio and print media outlets discussed how to create web- and social-friendly content. At this Community Service Public Relations Council (CSPRC) luncheon, the media panelists explained what kind of information they sought for their websites, how they integrated social media, and how nonprofits (and others) could best work with them.

The panelists were:

  • Kelsey Proud, web producer, St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7 KWMU, University of Missouri St. Louis
  • Jill Hampton, web producer, My Neighborhood St. Louis, Fox2now.com, KPLR11.com, STLMoms.com
  • Greg Jonsson, breaking news editor at StLToday.com / the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

After a brief introduction, the panelists talked about how journalism has changed in this digital world, and how public relations professionals could help make their jobs easier.

In the early digital days, there was insistence (in broadcast media) that they must break the news on-air first. That notion is gone. Today, breaking news happens online, followed by a more in-depth vetted story on-air. 

The biggest change of all is that content is now shared across the various platforms. Radio is no longer just audio, TV is no longer just video and, of course, newspapers / magazines are no longer just print.  I like the line one TV station GM used a while back about no longer being a TV station “but rather we are a local news organization that is platform agnostic.”

Some of the panelists’ tips that I found noteworthy for PR pros:

  • Everything needs to be interactive to get the best user experience.
  • Every journalist is now a ‘one-man-band.” For example, radio reporters are learning how to utilize images and/or video to get better exposure.
  • Press releases are still the number one way to share a story with them. Kelsey says, “No matter how much we complain, we ARE grateful for press releases.”
  • Even though they just stated that content is cross-platform shared, a good TV story still needs to be very visual.  Even for radio, online is visual so include image(s).
  • Your press release should point to the organization’s online newsroom for background information and additional details. NOTE:  Keep the online newsroom up-to-date! Jill said her pet peeve is “getting a release, going to the website only to find the last press release was posted over a year ago.”
  • Include links to organization, event, social media profiles, and images.
  • Do NOT include cute graphics, or attach Word documents or hi-res images.  Most won’t open them, and sometimes their email system strips them out so they’ll never see them anyway.  Instead, provide links to your online photo gallery—low res images are just fine for the web. 
  • Keep the information straight-forward. Greg says they have no time for “flowery language.”
  • Finally, yes, it’s okay to alert a journalist to a story via Twitter—just not incessantly.

While none of this advice is revolutionary, I believe it’s important to periodically hear it “from the horse’s mouth.”

PR pros, please share any feedback you’ve received from members of the media. Or, if you are a journalist, please share how your job has changed in the digital era, and what we, as PR pros, can do to make it easier.

Is Your Press Release Guilty of Information Overload?

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Working Hard resizeBranding and advertising messages can be both offensive and defensive – which may be why they seem to be everywhere these days.  Added to the barrage of news and posts coming in to your RSS feed, newsletters you’ve subscribed to, social news streams, your email inbox, not to mention your personal communications and – you’ve got information overload.  

According to a video based on the book Socialnomics™ by Erik Qualman, we no longer search for the news but the news finds us or, at least, it tries to reach us. I’ve heard there’s an average of 5,000 attempts to get our attention every day.  That was back in 2006 – the figures are probably even higher by now. But even so, 5,000 messages? Per day? Yikes!  No wonder we feel overwhelmed sometimes.

That’s the “average” person. Imagine how a journalist must feel. Journalists must be masters of information management. According to a Journalistics post, they are receiving hundreds of pitches a day. (Makes my head swim just thinking about it!) As The Media evolves, newsrooms are also switching to more hyperlocal formats and journalists are finding that they are wearing other hats, besides that of journalist, including business person and manager.

Seth Godin recently wrote on his blog that, “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.”

To stop issuing press releases isn’t really an option, so how do you keep yours from being lost in the thicket of information and simply adding to the fatigue of digital overload? 

  • Craft the perfect headline. It should clearly epitomize what your press release is about while including keywords (for SEO). Try to get it down to 10-12 words or less.
  • Lead with the hook. The lead (first sentence or “hook”) should be clear and concise.  The news in your news release has to be obvious.
  • Skip the fluff.  State actual facts – products, services, events, people, projects. Avoid jargon or specialized technical terms.
  • Set word limits. In a recent PRSA Tactics article, Ann Wylie writes, “The recommended length for the average press release has dropped from 400 words in print to 250 words online, according to Internet marketing strategist B.L. Ochman.”  The press release should not tell the whole story but simply an idea of what their readers need to know.
  • Timing is everything. The content should be relevant and fresh – not too far past and not too far in the future.
  • Target distribution. I’m not going to detail in this post, but if you want to revisit why this is so important, you can read about it here and here.

As Wylie states (in the above-referenced article), “The right length for each piece depends on the topic, audience, medium, budget and other factors.” The key is not “smothering your readers with information.”

How are you tailoring your media outreach to fit the ever-changing needs of journalists and bloggers? If you’ve given your press release a makeover, to keep up with the times, how successful have your efforts been? Please share your thoughts with the me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

A Letter From a Press Release

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Dear PR Professional,

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. “I am not dead and I have an app to prove it.” Ok, maybe I don’t. But granted, I am more than 100 years old and am still holding up fairly well, if I must say so myself.

Our relationship has seen its ups and downs. You’ve shared me in many ways, including, but not limited to mail (long before it was called “snail mail”) and fax – I really burnt up some data lines in my time. Let us not forget email; you’ve emailed me so often and to so many erroneous contacts I sometimes get called “SPAM” or “junk” now – no respect for your elders. And this newfangled “tweeted.” (That’s right, I’m “hip” to it all.)

Now I spend most of my time in online press rooms as a reference link for reporters to “come and get me if they want me.”

A few tips I’ve heard over the years:

ARCHIVE: Even if you focus on social media ALWAYS have a place for traditional releases in your newsroom. This will allow journalists a resource for quotes if someone is not readily available. Your website should have an archive of news stories and I still prove to be a concise summary of events and/or activities important to your business.

IDENTIFY CORRECT RECIPIENTS: Never blindly email me. If you must do this, and I can’t think of a good reason why, at least make sure I’m relevant to the recipient. (I have a positive reputation to maintain after all.)

BE SENSITIVE TO MY SIZE: At least embed me in the email. People hate it when I’m “attached” and frankly just hanging out there is a little scary.

WRITE A GOOD SUBJECT LINE: If you MUST email me, even if the recipient is expecting me, please write a good subject line. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone unopened because nobody really knew what I was so they ignored me.

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT: If someone says they don’t want a press release, but just the who, what, when, where and why, please give it to them. Also prepare that same information in my form or at a minimum a fact sheet for your archive. Remember once I’m on your website you can still maximize me for SEO purposes.

I still have some gas in the tank so don’t count me out just yet. I know some say our relationship is a bit dysfunctional at best. Sure, I’m traditional, you know – AP Style – but I still have a place in your plan and tactics if you use me wisely. And I really think we can make this work.

Lovingly,
Press Release*

***

*Bio: Press Release is a 100+ year veteran of the PR and media relations industry, where it helps professionals connect and engage with relevant journalists and bloggers. In its spare time, Press Release enjoys finding innovative ways to stay curtain in the ever-changing media landscape and maximize its results. Web: BurrellesLuce Media Outreach; Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce; Twitter: BurrellesLuce