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5 Tips for News Releases in the Digital Age

By Susan Larson. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

News releases aren’t dead … unless you write them that way.

The topic came up during Open Coffee, FredXchange’s weekly gathering of entrepreneurs. I receive dozens of news releases each week. I’ve also worked in PR and written those news releases. Here’s what I know.

A news release can be an important way to get the word out, keep media informed, establish yourself as an expert in a field and obtain some free publicity. But the news release needs to focus on the recipient and the audience, not you.

It also needs to take into account today’s production and consumption technology. Even print resources need to be connected to the digital age to be viable.

“We know we need content that can be consumed in a swipe format, is bandwidth-lean and gets to the point quickly,” said Judd Slivka in a blog post about mobile journalism. He was talking to journalists, but the same applies to those writing news releases.

You also should give media something they can use right now — without having to come back and ask for more details or spend an hour editing out self-promoting hyperbole.

Here are five tips to get you started on the right path.

One: Begin with the most important or exciting detail.

Two: Tell why it matters to the journalist’s audience.

Three: Include all vital information — who, what, when, where, why and how. (It’s crazy how often this information is missing!)

Four: Provide reputable and specific resources, data and attributions. (Self-promoting quotes don’t fit this category.)

Five: Include additional resources that can help the journalist personalize the story for their specific news outlet. Include, for example, a photo (what size and style does the outlet use?); audio; video; data graphics; links; names and contact info of experts for follow-up.

It definitely helps if you treat the journalist as a professional contact and not just a name on a mailing list. Tips for that are the topic of another article.

Susan Larson, CEO and publisher of Fredericksburg.Today online news, provides social media and public relations services to businesses and nonprofits, and is teaching workshops about Facebook and Twitter for business at Germanna Community College Center for Workforce & Community Education. Read more here: Facebook, Twitter for Your Business Contact her at [email protected] for more information and to schedule a strategy session.

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