For most of the 20th Century, there was a thin but clear distinction between those writers who considered themselves journalists and those who considered themselves public relations professionals. Journalists claimed the high ground, acting as guardians of the truth for the citizens they served, keeping one suspicious eye on their neighbors in the world of PR as if they were street magicians, always playing an angle, always looking to pull a fast one.
Today, the modern world has shaken the idea of objective journalism to its very core. Not only has the mobile internet turned all of us into reporters (point smartphone, make Tweet, collect Pulitzer), the fractured world of news has set fire to the very idea of objectivity. I’m not sure broadcast news was ever truly objective, but today’s cable news channels don’t even bother to pretend anymore.
Yet even as the world of journalism has come crashing into the world of PR like some epic celestial collision, it remains critical to collaborate with those around you. Remember going to summer camp and getting a bunk next to that kid from a neighboring town who had stolen your girlfriend? After a week of bonding over heatstroke and salmonella, you were best buds, pen pals to the end.
Those of us in the world of PR may be able to generate more of our own content than ever before, but for now we still need to get along with reporters, editors, bloggers, podcasters and YouTubers. With special thanks to a keen infographic you can see here on mynewsdesk.com, here are a few helpful tips for creating news releases and other content that journalists will actually want to report and share:
- Find an interesting news angle. One thing hasn’t really changed in the world of journalism: newsworthy stories are better than stories that are (A) about old news, (B) about lame news or (C) about Adam Sandler (or any of his crew).
- Use a strong headline. If there is one underlying theme to these tips, it’s one of “efficiency.” In other words, the less work that a news platform has to do, the better your chances seem to be for getting covered / shared. A good headline gets to the point and draws attention, so everybody wins.
- Include lots of facts. Even though we all seem to have our own definition of the truth nowadays, we still like to see facts, stats and figures. The more of these you can include, the fewer of them the editor / blogger has to look up and the more trustworthy you seem.
- Engaging visuals are important. This is so important, but people often skip it because it can be really hard. If you weren’t lucky enough to snap a photo of a cranky rhinoceros escaping from the zoo and chasing a street mime down the highway, then you may have to dig around for some visuals. Royalty free stock photography might end up being a great asset here. If it is a vlogger, find some footage. I guarantee that including a compelling visual will make you big points with anybody who considers your press releases, etc.
- Don’t forget a quote or two. This is something that we’ve been doing at Anchor forever, but it can be easy to forget. A quote always makes a story sound more like a news story, so do what you can to get somebody who is relevant to the story to say something interesting (or at least insightful).
There you have it – five ways to give your news releases the best chance possible to be published. Follow them, and even old-school journalists will appreciate your work. When we all get along, we can all make great news together.