Back in December I wrote a post on newswires and questioned if they were dying or evolving. Early on, reporters and journalists utilized newswires almost exclusively. Today the Internet and social media provide new opportunities to extend newswire feeds to a global audience.
Newswires serve as gateways and channels to distribute information, largely through the form of press releases, which have also changed over the years. With blogs and social media, many have questioned if press releases are still relevant. The short answer is yes, but only if they are smart and THIN – timely, honest, informative and newsworthy.
THIN is In
Most press releases are too long, improperly constructed, and often bloated with unnecessary information. Others are written in a sensationalized tone, using buzzwords and self-serving jargon that do not help inform or educate.
Take a good look at your press releases. If you are making these common mistakes, you are significantly minimizing the effectiveness of your press announcements, as well as your ability to provide relevant, useful information. Press releases need to be structured within the following framework to ensure intellectual fitness:
- Timely – press releases must be fresh, and should coincide with news, events, and announcements. A press release about an outdated product, service, or event offers little value and will find itself in the trash. Preparing announcements well in advance will ensure timeliness and interest.
- Honest – credibility is something that is earned, and your announcements must always be based on facts. Including false information, making exaggerated claims, or referencing information out of context will not be tolerated. Keep in mind conscientious reporters will do their own research to vet and validate the information in your announcement.
- Informative – make sure you include information that succinctly explains the facts and reason for the announcement, as well as contact details. When writing technical-related announcements, it is important to “boil-down” the message and perspective to ensure non-technical readers can understand the scope and significance of the subject matter. Use the 5WH method (who, what, where, when, why and how) as a guideline.
- Newsworthy – do not develop a press release if the subject matter is not newsworthy. Announcements must offer some type of news value or interesting fact to provoke the reader and/or elicit a response. Reporters and journalists are immensely overloaded with announcements, e-mail, phone calls and social media pings. Offering succinct, newsworthy information is always welcomed and is more prone to getting covered.
Making Press Releases Smart
In the past 10 years or so, press releases have certainly changed, delivering a more interactive reading (and viewing and listening) experience. They should no longer only include “plain-vanilla” text. Press releases are now the launch point to other content such as videos, infographics, blog posts, and podcasts, giving readers more information to learn about the subject matter. This content also provides the media with diverse materials to develop more compelling articles.
Press releases (and the newswires they are distributed through) offer new ways to inform audiences and tell a story and even influence your organization’s SEO and discoverability. Making sure they are smart and THIN will improve visibility and earn the attention of the reader.