Saturday, March 24, 2007

Writing press releases specifically for the web

The mark of a good professional is one that keeps up on new trends in their industry, reads and follows the examples of others who have integrated new ideas into their craft. In my following other PR blogs, I came across what I think will truly revolutionize media relations.

In proposals made to our client, the EQAO, we've been pushing consideration of reaching out into the blogosphere and towards the growing number of opportunities to spread news virally. What do I mean by virally? By getting bloggers and reader-driven news sites like Newsvine to carry a story, there are enormous opportunities for the same story to be covered elsewhere on the net. Press releases tagged with markers for Digg, De.li.cious, and other social book markers mean that a communiqué's place on the net can help boost search engine rankings and give coverage where traditional media may not. What's another benefit of social bookmarked news? In the case of Digg, after you submit content, other people read your submission and Digg what they like best. If your story rocks and receives enough Diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of visitors to see. Digg bookmarks placed on your release will lead over to the Digg site and as you can imagine, increase your story popularity. Every person can digg (help promote), bury (help remove spam), and comment on stories.

Here come's the problem: The average attention span of an internet reader or a journalist researching a story on the net is very short. You have even less time to convey a message than you would in a traditional release. Online types want the ability to quickly get a sense of the story. They want to be able to leave comments on the spot and if possible, access relevant video and audio clips as well.

In comes the new template for social media press releases.

As you can see from the example here provided by Shift Communications (click the image to see an enlarged version), the new template takes a very different look.

Starting with your headline (as in traditional releases), you need to have a message that quickly grabs the reader's attention. From there, lay out your essential points of why your story is newsworthy. Preferably, this should be laid out in bullet form. This is where the internet communiqué differs from its traditional cousin. In traditional releases, you need to convey a story. On the internet, you need to make your release sound like an ad: punchy, to the point, and eye-grabbing.

Your next step is integrating De.li.cio.us, Digg, and RSS news feeds over to your site. I've discussed why Digg and De.li.cio.us tags are needed, but why RSS feeds? Here's the beauty! Wouldn't it be great if bloggers and the media knew about your next release the moment it came out WITHOUT you having to call or email them? That's what an RSS feed can do.

After your tags, the internet press release allows you to include video clippings, b-rolls, or the specific photos you would like highlighted. No need for a would be journalist to contact you for photos! They can simply download the photos you provide. Other multimedia items or ''downloadables'' can be included as well.

Finally, and what I find as the most interesting is that the new template only then encourages quotes from a client and other statements relating to the story (explanations). In traditional releases, these are placed throughout.

Varying versions of the social media press release are out there. At EQAO, video b-rolls are integrated into the press release in a number of instances- changing the format of releases themselves (click here for an example EQAO release). The results have spoken for themself. Through effective monitoring, Action Strategies found that TV stations throughout the province of Ontario used the pre-developed video clips of the agency. This meant that EQAO's message went out exactly as desired with visuals wanted as well.

With the help of Action Strategies, EQAO is demonstrating the power of news releases and the internet.

Mark Buzan is Principal and Chief Magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service Marketing Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs Consultantcy. Make sure to contact him for advise on reaching audiences you may or may not have yet considered in your marketing communications and PR campaigns. Drop him a line if you are looking for help in developing an internet media relations campaign. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Hi Mark,

This is a great newsletter. I really enjoyed the article on html press releases!

Moving Forward,

Matt Zembruski