Business Wire San Antonio Seminar Recap
Press Release: "Rumors of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated"
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the press release, Business Wire held a panel discussion analyzing the press release’s origin as a media relations tool and its current incarnation as a social networking catalyst. Approximately 25 communications professionals attended the "Press Release: "Rumors of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated" luncheon seminar on November 16, 2006, at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio.
The panel included Christye Weld, Austin/San Antonio Regional Manager; Alan Weinkrantz, President of Alan Weinkrantz And Company, and Editor, SAtechBlog.com and 3Screens.net; Vicki Vaughan, Senior Reporter, San Antonio Express-News; and Rachel Brush, Managing Editor, Pluck Corporation and BlogBurst Syndicate. Christye Weld also moderated the forum.
Christye Weld, Austin/San Antonio Regional Manager, Business Wire
Weld led the meeting with a brief history of the press release, from its storied start in 1917 as a communications tool utilized by PR pioneer Ivy Ledbetter Lee to its current incarnation as an interactive marketing tool.
*The press release is a valuable tool in the communications arena as long as the issuing organization or company’s communication strategy involves consistent messaging, outreach and follow-up.
*The press release is not just for media. For example, all kinds of people subscribe to news release RSS feeds to get information on topics they are interested in.
*Some reasons the press release is still a viable part of any public relations strategy:
1) The press release forces you to have a consistent message in your communications strategy something that is vital to the success of any company.
2) It allows you to be part of the Internet’s search universe and places your news in search engines, news portals, in the news systems of targeted media, and on notable Web sites such as Google and Yahoo!
3) Your release has less chance of "falling off the radar" when you send news releases via a wire service.
*Less than 10 years ago, companies controlled their own news cycles, message, and editorial fabric. Now, with the boom of the Internet, news is dispensable, immediate, viral, and in the hands of proactive consumers, so companies must tailor their PR efforts with this in mind.
*Today, the media is a mix of the traditional hard-copy newspapers and magazines and the blogosphere, and is conversational. Companies should have a consistent message, reach out to bloggers, pitch to perhaps five key journalists/thought leaders before the news is live on the wire.
Vicki Vaughan, Senior Reporter, San Antonio Express-News
*Getting your message to the media still involves getting to know the media well and being aware of their beats. Many PR pitches go awry because PR representatives don’t know the type of news the writer they are reaching handles, and often, the PR representative doesn’t actually know what he or she wants to say.
*Email is very effective for reaching writers. Like many, Vaughn dislikes fax.
*Think of an angle on your story that would make the reporter want to use your news. The fact that your company is celebrating its 20th anniversary isn’t necessarily of interest to a paper, but perhaps the story of two employees who have been at the company for 20 years and have seen it grow and change is of interest.
*Before pitching, ask yourself, Does this news publication have a history of writing about what’s in my press release?
*Avoid flowery language in news releases. Reporters don’t want to wade through a long release with useless adjectives.
*Make sure the contact person on the release is available. Writers usually are on tight deadlines and need
information on demand. When they don’t get it, your story may not make it to publication.
*Social media allows Internet users and a company’s customers to communicate, control, and create through content such as blogs, photos, comments and discussion groups.
*Web sites everywhere are undergoing a fundamental change: Open wire content, in-house content and user-generated content form a company’s social network and community. As this is processed and presented with editorial insight, what results is a trusted brand.
*Message control remains the hub of any communications strategy. Social media/networking are key, but do not forget the importance of the press release. A certain audience wouldn’t be captured and stories wouldn’t get picked up if the press release was not involved: Three-quarters of people go to news releases to get their information.
*Blogs are a huge community and are industry influencers, so be aware of what people are saying about your company. Make sure your communications directors and PR pracitioners are fully knowledgeable in the social media space and monitor what is being said at all times.
*Social media will not replace traditional media. However, social media and networking do augment today’s news in a powerful way.
If you would like more information, please contact our speakers directly:
alan at weinkrantz.com
VVaughan at express-news.net
Rachel.Brush at pluck.com