Fresh eyes

Breaking news in the digital age

Breaking news in the digital age
Andrew Taylor Senior PR & Comms Manager

Written by Andrew Taylor,
PR & Communications Director at Freshfield

Does the press release have a future? It’s a question that’s often asked when PR professionals get together to discuss the industry’s prospects.

The press release has been a staple fixture in the PR and Comms tool-kit. Of course, it still has a role to play in making announcements and breaking news about your business.

However, today’s digital-fuelled world has given us plenty of other options too. Here’s three key pieces of advice to help your company make the news and connect with audiences.

Use the mix

Open source website software and social media has changed the game for businesses who want to tell their own story.

Businesses should be thinking as publishers – broadcasting their own content. This allows them to get it seen without necessarily the need to send it to a journalist. You also have the option of targeting your content at so-called ‘influencers’ such as bloggers, as well as the traditional media.

Of course, traditional media outlets still play a key part in modern PR programmes. Many have huge online followings and therefore can play an important role in spreading your message and giving credibility to your brand. But third party media (earned media) is only one part of the mix. We have a wonderful array of channels available to break news and influence others.

For example, for the official opening of Winckley Square Gardens in Preston we created a short TV news style report of the event. This gave the Winckley Square Community Interest Company great content for its website and social media channels, as well as helping to generate local and regional media coverage.

Broaden your content; think visual

Businesses switched on to modern PR and marketing will appreciate just how hungry their website and social channels are for fresh and visual content.

The same rules apply for the media. They have websites that need to be fed with great stories at an alarming rate.

Strong images have always played an essential role, but good video content is now equally important.

Anything sent to a journalist that has good video will be given a priority, even if it’s not particularly newsworthy on its own.

For example, this rant by the owner of a popular Blackburn hairdressers about continued break-ins at his shop has had thousands of views online.

Without the video, it wouldn’t be that interesting a story. Nothing spectacular happens in the video, but Nigel’s character and passion makes you warm to him and his point of view.

If businesses can harness the power of video to create newsworthy, engaging content they will have great ammunition for their owned channels and build strong relationships with journalists.

Go direct

It sounds simple but every business should have an accurate database of their customers and contacts. Use this resource to go direct to your audiences. And for services businesses that rely heavily on relationships, don’t forget the power of getting your news across face to face. Brief teams accordingly.

For further reading on this subject, check out Michael Gregory’s blog on how to create a modern media relations strategy and our thoughts on making PR work in the age of the digital newsroom.

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