A little over a month ago I wrote a blog called The Days of Major Media Using Your Release Verbatim are Over (Not That They Were Ever Under). My premise was pretty simple (for those who have been reading my blogs, know I excel in simple) – – major media aren’t waiting for a news release to come over the wire so they can just “copy and paste” onto their outlet.
Responses I received were at times passionate and always thoughtful. First off, what do I mean by major media? Second, U.S. media is different from media across the world. Some outlets will use parts of a release verbatim – – government, medical, sports, etc. The goal of the release is to illustrate what a possible story could look like. And on and on and on…
Awesome feedback. Couple of things that I took from the comments and, in some instances, ensuing back and forth:
Doesn’t matter if the release gets used verbatim. What matters is getting the attention of the reporter by providing her/him with a compelling story for her/his readers/listeners/viewers (who are your real audience).
How you write the story does matter. It is everything. Yes, AP Style. Of course, proper grammar. But what is going to make or break you is creating a story that is written for the media, not your client. This means thinking like a reporter and not worrying if your client’s name is in the first sentence or first paragraph when it doesn’t fit. It means using a quote only when it truly moves your story forward, otherwise not using it all.
This is not always going to be easy, and there will be instances when you shouldn’t fall on your sword over this, but for those times when mentioning “Company X” right away doesn’t make sense – – stick to your guns.
When would this occur? Lots of examples:
Perhaps a technology release where you are going to talk the benefits of the innovation first and follow that with what made it possible.
Maybe for the anniversary of a restaurant, you want to start with a story of a couple who were engaged at the eatery 50 years ago.
I think you get the idea. Bottom line is we are the experts in how to best secure coverage and how to best utilize the news release which, by the way, does not and should not just be used for going to the media. Blogs and social media are great venues for news releases/stories. And just like the media (who are taking your story to your real audience), those individuals who are reading your blog and social pages don’t want to get hit over the head with repeated corporate plugs.