News? What News? Four News Release Tips

16 Mar News? What News? Four News Release Tips

News, what newsAs a former broadcast news producer, I often find myself looking at public relations through a different lens. It would be fascinating to see a graph on the number of “news” releases distributed each year and compare that to the number that were published. Now, I’d only want to see the graph, someone else can do the analytics because I’m going to guess that a majority of the releases would lack newsworthy content and that informational bit.

This isn’t another “News releases are dead” post. I believe news releases have a very important role in communicating a business’s updates to the public. The problem is that most of the time releases announce something that doesn’t line up with what the target audience cares about. It’s human nature to discuss what’s on our minds. But all-too-often businesses forget to step out from their corporate vantage point and into the smartphones or local papers of their customers. Sure, your new software update or .001% drop in rates is a change you want to announce to the world, but ask the question – “Will your customers understand or care about the news?”

This isn’t a statement about all companies since not all businesses are created equal nor do they have the same audiences. Apple could release an iToenail ClipR and get plenty of coverage.

iToenail ClipR

But for the companies that aren’t the Apples, Teslas or Ubers, how can they  stand out and be heard?

Here are four tips to ensure your news release is not dead on arrival when it hits a reporter’s inbox.

Quality not quantity. Is it news? Will your audience care? Does it impact the majority of your customers, or just a few? These are  a few questions you need to ask to determine if a release should be created. I’m a firm believer in the less is more approach. Fewer, spot-on releases that meet your customers’ needs and have a wide reach are much better than dozens of useless fluff. Do better, not more.

Share before you share. If your news is really big news, tell someone you trust and respect and gauge their interest. Take criticism in stride and make note of any questions or info you need to clarify since you may discover holes in your release that need more detail. You may start over. You may even toss it out. But it’s better to know if you have a watered down release before you release it.

Tell a story. It’s time to put your news to paper. No one wants to be overwhelmed with too many numbers and jargon. Tell a compelling story and include the human element. Not just quotes, but why or how this news will impact people.

Practice your pitch. The release has merit and is ready to ship out – what next? Before you fire it off to the entire world, write 1-2 sentences that concisely relay what the news is and provide a call-to-action to read and/or publish the news. Now, read it out loud. If you can’t take yourself seriously, why should someone else? This is how you’ll get your audience to read that release you’ve worked so hard on.

Alright, go forth and create timely, newsworthy content that’s good enough, smart enough and, doggone it, people like it!

Kevin Hartman
khartman@LTpublicrelations.com

Kevin is an Account Manager at LT Public Relations responsible for supporting the communications of several clients, primarily within the financial sector. When he's not blogging about media relations or social media trends, Kevin enjoys eating his way through Portland and spending time with his wife and three kids.

2 Comments
  • Kevin Loder
    Posted at 03:25h, 18 March

    Ah yes, key to remember to include the human element. “So what? Why Care?” This is yet another reminder that public relations is about two-way communication, rather than just advertising to an audience. I wonder if reporters can tend to tell the difference between a news release written by an agency vs in-house. I would assume an agency tends to do a better job, since their perspective may be more in line with public perception.

  • The Public Relations Punchline: SO WHAT? WHO CARES? - LTPR
    Posted at 20:19h, 03 May

    […] to staff. LTPR’s Kevin Hartman addressed external communications last March in his blog “News? What News?” advising quality over quantity when putting out press […]