Use News Releases to Advance Your Mission
By Kim Cunningham
In the new evolution of the tradition release, the word press is replaced by the word news. No longer written exclusively for the media, news releases are delivered straight to the general public. Your organizations public could be comprised of current members, potential members, potential donors, partner organizations, lawmakers, decision makers, etc. Though the media should remain a strong part of your communication strategy, they are no longer the only recipients of your news.
Because the audience is changing, the tone of each release should also change. You are now talking directly to the public. Talk to them in their languageno more buzz words or industry jargon. What words do they use to describe your industry? How do they receive information? Are they personally connected to your industry?
If you do your research and answer these questions, then you will be able to communicate with the public effectively and become one of their trusted resources. When they have questions, they will come to you.
There are many ways of distributing a news release, especially now that there are free, online distribution services. But dont stop there share your news with all of your networks by posting it on your Website, writing about it on your blog, sharing on Twitter and Facebook, including it in your e-newsletter, etc. By posting your release on Internet news sites, your organizations search engine ranking will increase with every click-through. You can also use the traditional services such as BusinessWire and PR Newswire.
By distributing a news release you are trying to reach potential customers, but you should always remember to continue communications with your current customers!
Leave the Hype Out of Your Release
News has not changed much in the past decade. It is still not acceptable to put out a release when dog bites man. At the same time, you dont want to wait for man to bite dog to issue your first release. Find news angles throughout the year so you can continually communicate with customers. It might be useful to keep an editorial calendar for your organization so that news is being distributed when the public needs it.
Leave the hype (i.e., worlds best!) out of your news releases. News releases are no longer a place to include a hard sales pitch. Instead, include hyperlinks throughout the release that lead readers to specific sections of your Website or your social media networks. This gently nudges them into your sales process without overselling.
Here are some tips for writing a basic news release:
As long as you are willing to evolve and learn how to communicate with the public on their terms and in their language, your organization will be able to move forward and thrive.
Cunningham is the president of Cunningham Strategic Communications, a public relations agency dedicated to advancing the work of nonprofits and socially responsible organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.