by Howard Martin
“Stop the presses!” and “Fresh off the presses…” are a couple of things I always wanted to say. I guess it’s too late. It’s 2015. I remember when fresh off the presses meant damp, alcohol-scented handouts. The teacher had just returned from the copy room. We would sniff the sheets and shake the purple-colored copies dry. The digital age has changed document sharing, which includes the evolution of the press release.
Everything that’s fit to print
Gone are the days of the rushed copywriter, finalizing the latest news release for printing; printouts sent out by courier, fax, or snail mail. The Old School press releases would go out to the traditional press outlets (print, TV, radio). The hope was that journalists would turn their press release into a story.
The copy could be copy/pasted, but there was a downside: it could be altered in a way that would dilute the message or misrepresent the brand. In the digital age, public relations specialists can gain media coverage while maintaining their voice. The New School press release is multi-faceted and further reaching than its predecessor.
Clickety-clack go the keys…
Not much about writing a press release has changed:
- A press release worth sharing must still cover the 5 Ws + H and have a key phrase, defining the release’s purpose.
- The intention of creating awareness of the brand through the media is unchanged.
- The release still has to grab the attention of the recipient.
What has changed is:
- how you put the press release together;
- its tone;
- your audience and how you share it with them
A wider swipe
The audience has expanded, and the way they access your story has changed as well. The Internet and mobile devices have made it easier to target specific audiences with specific needs and reading habits too. Be wary of skimmers and scanners.
The overly formal text is now freer flowing and casual. The key phrase has been replaced by key words. These key words increase the chance of your piece coming up in online searches. Press releases can now contain hyperlinks, images, and videos. This extra “candy” gives you the potential for greater exposure and brand recognition. They also lead people back to your website, where you now keep the current and all previous releases on your News page.
DIYm – Distribute It Yourself, mostly…
PR departments are now required to do more of the heavy lifting, but it’s to their brand’s advantage. New School press releases are no longer only for the traditional press outlets. Now, press releases can also be sent to bloggers. This is an option that has to be carefully chosen. Only items well suited to a blog’s theme and audience should be sent to them.
Don’t worry; you’re not alone in the online distribution jungle. As things have progressed, so have the outlets used to get your press release out there. Distribution service providers like PRWeb and BusinessWire are there for that. I found that it is best explained on CNW’s About page:
“…CNW provides simultaneous distribution of news releases and multimedia to media and financial markets and feeds websites, social media accounts and blogs. CNW Newswire distribution fulfills Canadian disclosure requirements and maximizes brand exposure, customer engagement and earned media opportunities.”
Work smart and hard
The implementing of digital media releases has forced businesses to prepare news releases for a broader audience. It has allowed them to reach more people, all at once, without sacrificing their unique voice. More information can be made available via links or embedded content. They drive traffic to their websites, where the public has access to other information about their company as a whole. However, they aren’t fun to smell just yet. Oh well–can’t have it all.