Media relations 2010

New Media Relations

photo credit: mfophotos

During a recent social media conference, Vancouver Sun managing editor Kirk LaPointe spoke in front of a screen that simply read: “We will die before the newspaper does.” The same is true about the media (or press) release – the reports of its death have, as they say, been greatly exaggerated.

The traditional media release has been around for more than a century. During the bulk of that time it served its purpose and served it well – releases gave print journalists working for print publications all of the information they needed to craft a compelling story. But now we have journalists that communicate over a myriad of channels. For print journalists, massive newsroom consolidation and the overwhelming growth of the internet has had a profound impact on how they write their stories, what information they’re looking for and how quickly they need it.

A study completed for the Newspaper Association of America found that newspaper websites continue to be the most used and valued destination for people seeking credible and trustworthy local content online. It’s no wonder journalists are clamouring to get their stories up on the web as quickly as possible, while providing unique content for online readers. The vast majority of print stories have an online component; for example, a series of associated pictures (like these pictures of the Gulf oil spill disaster) or a short video. The initial story is now just a jumping-off point for a discussion on the larger topic.

Now what does that mean for communications professionals crafting a media release? Well first we need to help journalists do their jobs more efficiently. And that means companies need to put out more than a traditional media release. The content must be multimedia, optimized for online use, easily accessible and in a format that journalists can use right away.

Here are some tips for better communicating – call it media relations 2010:

  • Optimize your corporate website for search engines. Ninety-eight per cent of journalists begin stories with a Google search.
  • The website should absolutely have a newsroom that’s easily accessible from the homepage. Don’t bury this crucial resource in the “about us” or “contacts” sections.
  • PDFs are now PNG (persona non grata) – the information must be in a format that journalists can easily use and that are searchable. PDF files are neither.
  • Make your releases multimedia. Include images and video – make sure that all files are web-ready so they can be easily lifted and used by journalists.
  • Use keywords and add in links. When crafting your release, use common search terms to help with optimization. But don’t use them too often – optimization is no excuse for sloppy writing.
  • Make sure you give visitors the chance to subscribe using RSS feeds. People are more likely to subscribe to RSS than adding their email address to a distribution list.

A large part of our job is to build relationships with journalists. So help them help themselves by making their jobs easier – and get better coverage.

Trevor Boudreau

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~ by Wilcox Group Team on June 30, 2010.

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