The News Release Has Gone to Boot Camp

Today’s News Release Is Leaner, Stronger and More Agile Than Ever

The news release is alive and well, but like so many things in business, it is evolving to meet the needs of its audiences.

Historically, the news release was fairly one-dimensional – a self-contained document that alerted media to company news. Today, the news release remains a viable arrow in the quiver of any company looking to layer its messages. The news release is still getting its workout from the small start-up to the mammoth game changer.

Is Your News Releases Built To Do Heavy Lifting?

Like the rest of us, today the news release is wearing more hats and doing more jobs.

A news release written today not only alerts media to bigger stories, but also serves as a staple of website content and a significant source of SEO for most companies and organizations.

Companies also have success using the news release to drive a stake in the ground about a specific product or service offering. For instance, a news release may be used to put a particular industry on notice that a company has arrived in the marketplace with a product or offering first.

Finally, a pattern of news releases about certain actions or decisions allows a company to establish itself as the expert on a topic or issue.

The Release Has Evolved, Yes; But Good Writing Is Still Fundamental

The basic elements of a news release have not changed – a succinct, intriguing header, a strong lead paragraph that can stand on its own and quotes from relevant parties still apply. Writing guru Ann Wylie reminds us of the principles of effective subhead use, a tool that – when used well – can significantly increase the effectiveness of a release.

But anyone who hasn’t checked out a news release in the last 10 years would see many differences in today’s versions.

First, the news release has had a facelift. Embedded links are essential, as is the use of images, particularly video. In fact, 73 percent of reporters want releases to contain images. Video has become the go-to platform for understanding a new idea, product or issue. And with the rise of infographics as a way to share information and engage the audience, the savvy PR professional knows that a “quick facts,” “by-the-numbers” or an “at-a-glance” box built into the release will go a long way in easing the work of the reporter or any other audience.

It may not be as noticeable, but even the approach to news release writing has changed in the last 10 years. Today’s writers know that efficient use of keywords will allow the release to rise to the top of search engines and extend the life of the release on the web long past its initial distribution or post.

None of these changes suggests walking away from the fundamentals. AP style is still preferred; concise, thoughtful writing remains critical; and real news that can answer the “so what?” question should never be surrendered.

 

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