New Rules for Modern News Releases

People have gone back and forth on the topic, but it’s safe to say the news release isn’t dead. It’s evolving. And as with any type of evolution, key players and rules change. Let’s look first at the players.

Not just for journalists.

News and press releases were traditionally written and distributed only to the media and journalists through press kits, fax, etc. While some organizations still take the traditional route, most companies are focusing their efforts online.  This allows online publications and blogs to pick up these releases (or snippets of the release) and repost verbatim.

While you should still write in AP style for the media, keep in mind you’re also writing for the web and search engines. You organization or client likely uses a wire service such as BusinessWire  or PR Newswire to distribute the news release. But your release can be more effective when you incorporate key search terms, link back to specific pages of your site, landing pages, blogs and any other content. When targeted correctly to key media and industry influencers, your prospects and customers are likely to see your release, and hopefully, read it.

Include a call-to-action (or CTA)

While the primary purpose of a news release may be to announce a product, service or event, the secondary purpose is to engage. While links may invite the reader to engage, include relevant offers (e.g. an eBook, whitepaper or access to a webinar) and invite them to learn more by redirecting them to a landing page or your site.

Don’t forget that your prospects and customers are interested to know about the latest technology advancements, industry achievements and events. If they are actively searching for more information on your site, this is a great way to grow your marketing list and drive prospects into the sales funnel. So don’t be afraid to ask your audience for a response, especially when giving away free content.

Optimize for social

Writing for print and web are two different styles. Your copy and boilerplate can integrate your social media channels, links, hashtags when relevant and share buttons on the press release section of your site. Resources, such as PitchEngine, enable you to add photos, images and tweetable news facts. This is your chance to call-out product features, add a demo, testimonial or share a quick snippet of your executive addressing a topic related to the release.

Practice proper email etiquette

Even if your release has gone out over the wire, leverage your social media channels by sharing the release to your followers on Twitter or Facebook fans. Your employees and customers can be some of your biggest brand ambassadors, so empower them to share the news release through the channels they’re already using.

Practice proper email etiquette; mass email

Journalists have pleaded and continue to repeat: “Don’t mass email the press release.” The media responds to mass emails the way we respond to chain emails—delete without reading. Target the press release to individual recipients and tailor your intro pitch.

A second pet peeve journalists continue to emphasize is “Don’t email the press release as an attachment.” Unless solicited for in advance, journalists do not open attachments. Instead, copy and paste the release in the body of your email. This allows the journalist to quickly scan through a release. If they want more information, they’ll ask for it.

As technology continues to impact how we communicate, some of these news release rules may change again. Are there any major do’s or don’ts I didn’t include? Leave a comment and let me know!

Google is also impacting how we write for the web vs. for human readers. Check back for additional tips to ensure your releases are read by both search engines and people.

By Mary Rose Macaranas – September 18, 2013

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Posted in : Public Relations

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