Journalists Need More than a Press Release From PR Pros

journalists need more than a press release
This was originally posted on CUinsight.com

Your credit union has lots of great stories to tell. Getting those stories in the hands of journalists and influencers can be challenging.

You may think journalists have email overload, just like everyone else. You are right, but consider this: according to a recent survey by PWR New Media, 88% of journalists say they want to hear from you via email.

But here’s the caveat: they want more.

Journalists and bloggers need easy to read, concise information, accompanied by shareable visuals, with access to background information and other graphics.

What does this mean?

It means in addition to your written press release, you should include one or more of the following:

  • high resolution photos or downloadable images
  • shareable infographic
  • tweetable pull quotes/appropriate Facebook post
  • in-depth data or statistics that support your information
  • links to background or supporting information
  • b-roll or other appropriate video
  • relevant audio sound bites

Not convinced? Of the journalists surveyed, 77% said they would be more likely to cover a story if it included access to appropriate images.

Here’s more:

  • 85% want relevant backgrounders, bios and supporting information
  • 78% want verbiage from news release
  • 46% want a link to relevant blog on topic
  • 41% want information about brand’s social media platforms so they can follow or view

While newsrooms are shrinking, reporters are expected to do more. Newspaper journalists write articles and produce short videos to post online. Reporters at radio stations must also include a print version of their story, complete with graphics. Television journalists are expected to write online content to post on websites, in addition to their traditional broadcast segment. Hunting down a headshot, video or background information isn’t something journalists have time to do.

Your job as a communications professional is to make the media’s job as easy as possible. By providing a variety of elements with your press release, you are more likely to receive coverage and tell your credit union’s story.

NORAD Santa Tracker: It all started with a little typo…

NORAD Santa Tracker
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa since 1955…and it all started with a little typo.

The story goes that an advertisement for Sears Roebuck & Co. listed a phone number for children to call Santa.

Sears Roebuck & Co Santa ad

No one bothered to proofread the ad, and it was published with the phone number to NORAD, then called CONAD (Continental Air Defense Command). That’s why it’s important to proofread. And yes, that includes calling phone numbers.

Rather than be annoyed that CONAD would have to field calls from children wanting to talk to Santa, the Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, embraced the issue and had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way around the world. Children who called were given updates on his location.

The tradition still lives today as hundreds of volunteers man phones and continue to update children who call. There’s also an online tracker as well, as Santa makes his way around the world.

Shoup did what any great PR pro would do: took what could be an unfortunate situation and turn it into a positive public relations story. Sure, it took more staff hours and probably put them behind on their “real” work, but the ability to make Christmas magical for children, and the community spirit that came out of it was worth it.

The moral of the story? Proofreading matters. Unless you want to end up tracking Santa every Christmas.

App a Matchmaker for Journalists and PR Pros

upitch app

Forget an email or phone call, and a tweet is so 2014. No, the way to connect with a journalist now is to upload your pitch to an app where journalists can scroll through and choose which pitches they want to learn more about.

It’s a new app called UPitch that avoids the overflowing inbox and connects journalists and PR professionals. It’s been billed as Tindr for PR. I first heard about it while listening to the podcast “For Immediate Release.”

Do journalists use this? Seems like it doesn’t eliminate the fire hose of pitches journalists receive, but only redirects it to another platform. And do journalists and PR pros need yet another tool to connect?

Journalists complain about spammy pitches and irrelevant story ideas from public relations folks. And novel-length press releases are filled with so much industry jargon they are deemed unreadable. But will an app solve bad pitches?

Good PR pros know the kinds of stories and topics journalists are looking for and shouldn’t need an app to make it happen. They send targeted pitches and know which journalists to contact….in the most effective way.

I’ll be interested to see what becomes of this…I honestly don’t know that much about it. Could it become an easy way foster the journalist/PR relationship? Maybe…if both parties choose to use it.

We’ll see what happens.