Freedom through the Internet
Once the Internet became woven into our everyday lives, it completely altered the nature of news releases. Now freed from their captive role as a tool for the press only, news releases are readily available, directly and unfiltered to the end-reader. News releases distributed through newswire services are blasted around the globe as they are posted on numerous sites and appear in search results from Google, Yahoo and others. Like an actor who steps out of character to address the audience directly, the news release is directly speaking to the public.
Of course you know all this - but have you really thought about it? And more importantly, are you crafting your news releases with a strategic eye? Are you leveraging their immense potential, while balancing the message and packaging them to meet your goals?
Step One - Create Your M.A.P.
Once you have considered these 3 simple fundamentals, you're ready for step two:
Message: What do you want to say? This is where you determine the content for your news release and make a judgment on its merit, relevance and value to your company image.
Audience: Who do you want to reach: customers, prospects, investors, employees, community, channel partners, industry players or government? Is this an announcement that has a media market and can best be communicated through the press?
Purpose: What is it you are trying to achieve? Are you promoting a product, gaining corporate stature, establishing a claim by going on record, generating attendance at an event, creating and becoming part of the discussion on a topic, setting the industry agenda, and so forth?
Step Two - Create a Powerful Communications Mix
With your M.A.P. in hand, you'll be able to easily consider some of the most popular approaches to devising news releases.
Hard news release - You know this one well as this is the most traditional of all approaches. You've got a new executive, new product, new channel program and it is hard news. Who, what, when, why and how are the main elements.
Soft news release - While not as pervasive as the hard news release, the soft news release (also called a perspective or feature release) can be highly effective but requires much more strategy. It is the no news release where you package your story within the context of trends or issues. You write it as if you are crafting a feature story and the sponsoring company (that's you) is usually not introduced until the second or third paragraph. These pieces are great collateral for your key audiences and also serve to promote the issues and how your company should be treated in such stories by the media.
Sidebar news release: Designed to have a long shelf life, these releases support a larger story and can be used by media as a sidebar. Tips, how-to's, brief histories, etc. are the traditional fare.
Experiential news release: You got it - multimedia news releases that include video, photos, illustrations and such. Depending upon your subject, these can be incredibly powerful. And with video becoming all the rage, this is a good way to use this medium. If a photo is worth a thousand words then video is surely worth a billion words.
These four approaches can then be augmented with the latest in techniques:
Traffic building - It is easy to have your news release connect the reader back to the source. Using XHTML links in the body, your web site or specific page is just a click away. Instant gratification!
Being found - SEO (search engine optimization) for news releases is really not as complicated as many have made it out to be. A mixture of keywords that are relevant to your news and ensuring your news release is posted on a popular site such as PRWeb will do the trick.
Getting Personal - The social news release is now here. We always talk about getting a share of voice and now you can get personal and have a conversation with your readers. Blogs, pod-casting, Digg, del.icio.us, RSS and more are in play and getting people talking (or at least clicking their keyboards!).