NewzEngine Newsletter: It would not be appropriate in an office to shout at the person next to you, and it would be ineffective to whisper when you’re on stage taking part in a panel discussion. When sending an email, ‘all caps’ are only to be used in extreme circumstances and using a smiley-faced emoji at the end of a sentence in which you’ve criticised the recipient is passive aggressive
The etiquette of office life is generally well understood, but what about when communicating with journalists via a media release, what’s the etiquette for that? Here are a couple of quick thoughts.
While there are no hard and fast rules, in generally it’s best to avoid jargon. Journalists are usually people who got into the profession because they love words, so try to avoid phrases that are overused and bit cringeworthy. The first time someone talked about “going forward” was probably OK, but it’s safe to presume this term has now been overused. Ditto “best in breed”, “window of opportunity”… anyway, you get the point.
The second is to think about the journalist’s audience. It’s kind of insulting if you don’t. You want them to take an interest in what’s happening in your world, so you should probably think a little bit about theirs.
At NewzEngine we have split our media distribution lists into sections for this very reason. There as 11 regional locations as well as ‘National news’ and 12 sectors to choose from, as well as Māori media. Users can tick more than one box. For example, if your media release is about a tech event in Palmerston North taking place on a marae, it would be entirely appropriate to tick ‘Manawatu’, ‘Technology’ and ‘Māori media’. If it was focussed on health applications and featured entrepreneurs in the speaking line-up then ‘business’ and ‘health’ would also be good boxes to tick.
NewzEngine also enables ‘All NZ locations’ and ‘All Sectors’. These buttons should be ticked only in rare circumstances. They are like the equivalent of a megaphone at the office. Reserved for very big news. Before ticking those boxes, you need to ask yourself, is my news of interest to everyone from the reporter covering the environment round to the food editor? If not, then best leave those buttons alone.
You’re posting to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, with maybe a little Snapchat on the side. You’ve got the SEO keywords sorted, the Google adwords paid for. You’re rocking the social, so why not go that next level and let the media know about what you do and why?
From the great newspaper mastheads that have migrated online, to exciting new publications borne in the digital age – the role of media remains as relevant today as when dear old Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and the age of mass communication was borne.
Providing independent media with information about your business or organisation can enable you to reach hundreds, thousands, and even millions of potential customers, investors, and stakeholders. While there is no guarantee your release, or the information it contains, will be published, it does make it more likely that your organisation will be taken into account when a journalist next writes about your sector or area of interest.
Getting into the habit of writing and distributing media releases provides several benefits, including:
- Your organisation is noticed by journalists covering your sector and area of interest.
- News releases provide fresh content for your website – on the home page, in the news section and repurposed as blogs posts.
- A release that is written with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) in mind – but not to the detriment of readability – can promote your organisation in Google rankings.
- Writing a media release crystalises what you want to say about a new product, service, appointment, milestone, or event. Having distilled your message, you can re-use this content when reaching out to customers and stakeholders in other communications.
- As you begin to write more releases you will become better at identifying a news angle and deciding what is ‘newsworthy’ and what isn’t.
Find out how to kickstart your next marketing communications activity by downloading NewzEngine’s free whitepaper ‘8 steps to writing an effective media release NewzEngine’s free whitepaper ‘8 steps to writing an effective media release’.
So, you’ve honed the pitch, that 3-4 sentence definition of what your company or organisation is, and what you stand for. But what happens after the press release or media announcement is sent out – if the journalist calls and wants to know more? What will they ask, and how will you respond beyond the pitch?
This is where the ‘Q&A’ comes into play in communications – when you think of all the questions that you might get asked and how you might answer them to create a news story. Of course, you may not think of every question, and the answers you could provide won’t be word-for-word. But preparing a Q&A provides you with the best opportunity to provide the answers that will help inform the journalist’s audience (and other important audiences too, such as customers and investors).
At NewzEngine we believe in the saying ‘eat your own dogfood’ so here’s the Q&A we’ve prepared for our platform.
What does your company do?
NewzEngine enables companies and organisations to create and send news releases to media.
Describe your customer today?
Our target audience is SMEs and Not-for-Profit groups where there is currently no dedicated communications resource. We also think people standing for public office would see this as a way to get their media announcement out to their local communities.
Who will your customers be in three years?
We are looking to export this public relations service to Australia, Pacific Islands, South East Asia and North America.
What is the primary problem you are solving?
Enabling organisations with no dedicated communications expertise to get their message out to a wider audience via a platform for distributing media announcements.
Why has no one solved it before?
News releases are a core part of traditional Public Relations’ activities. As professional communications services are traditionally bespoke and high-touch, they can be expensive and therefore used primarily by larger and more well-resourced organisations.
Are you solving problems for your industry, for society, the world?
NewzEngine is providing a platform for new voices to be seen and heard in business, politics and other important sectors, by enabling a cost-effective way to reach credible media.
Who are your competitors?
We think we’re quite unique in providing a transparent, cost-effective communications service that enables people with no public relations experience to create and send press releases to media in their chosen geographical area and/or sector.
What are the main reasons why people will use your product over a competitor?
It’s the most cost-effective in terms of creating and sending press releases and it provides an extensive how-to guide to creating media announcements, which we don’t believe currently exists in the same way on other sites.
Why did you start the company?
We were asked by people and organisations how to send out media releases – they had no idea where to begin, what to say and who to send it to.
Why are you uniquely qualified to start it?
NewzEngine is founded by Selwyn Manning and Sarah Putt, who between them have over 40 years media and communications’ experience. Selwyn’s career includes roles as a journalist, political press secretary and news media specialist. Sarah has worked as a journalist, public relations specialist and technology commentator.
As a NewzEngine subscriber every release or speech you send via our platform is automatically distributed to some of the most powerful news aggregators in the world. We believe this access provides our customers with significant value. Here’s a short Q&A about this service.
What do news aggregators do?
News aggregators collect and distribute information to tens of millions of subscribers globally.
Why do people subscribe to news aggregators?
To receive real-time data directly from its source. Subscribers may be active investors required to keep up with economic and social changes occurring in certain markets around the world. Or they may be members of the media interested in a particular sector and keen to receive as much information, from as many different sources, as possible.
Why are press releases of interest to people?
As the media itself becomes more fragmented, the value of raw data – that is, announcements made directly from companies and organisations – increases because people can no longer just rely on traditional information providers. This means that your message is delivered undiluted to potential customers, partners, investors and commentators.
What news aggregators will NewzEngine send my release to?
- MIL-OSI, New Zealand-based news publisher/syndicator. Then on to:
- DowJones Factiva, which has a global financial/business focus,
- LexisNexis, which sends to the global legal sector,
- Acquire Media/NewsCycle, whose clients are members of the New York and London stock exchanges,
- Contify, which sends to American aggregators GALE, NewsBank US, and also to Comtex news network, and Thomson Reuters,
- Knowledge Basket, which covers New Zealand tertiary education providers and libraries.
How come NewzEngine is able to send to these services?
NewzEngine’s access to world-leading news aggregators is through a New Zealand-based syndicator, the MIL-OSI Network, which publishes over 35,000 global English language items per month via sites that include LiveNews (NZ), Foreign Affairs (Asia/Pacific/USA/EU), and NewsKitchen (EU/RU/Baltics).
The concept of the genius is an incredibly compelling and romantic idea. So much talent invested in a single, solitary human being. But do you really think William Shakespeare came up with all those great lines himself? That Steve Jobs single-handedly built Apple?
Posterity has awarded them the credit, but Shakespeare wrote for the best actors of his day, and Jobs ran a company that attracted some of the smartest people in tech. Also, they both lived and worked in communities that at the time were experiencing an enormous surge in creativity – England during the Renaissance and the early days of Silicon Valley.
If you don’t care who gets the credit, then getting into the habit of collectively coming up with new ideas can help propel your company’s success. And this is particularly the case when it comes to content. Press release headlines, blog topics, subjects to write about. It shouldn’t only be the person in charge of marketing who has come up with these.
Sure, the writing, editing, proofreading, and sign-off – someone needs to take ownership of the process. But the best ideas for topics and headlines can come out of a session where a group of people are sitting around shouting words at someone furiously writing them up on a white board.
Nothing too sacred, nothing too stupid, whatever comes to mind. Here are 5 things to make a brainstorming session worthwhile:
- Be clear about what you are brainstorming for. Just like anything in marketing and communications, the result is only as good as the brief. If that isn’t clear, then you are wasting your time.
- Everyone comes prepared with a list of ideas, which has taken five minutes to compile (don’t overthink it) to get the session started
- For face-to-face sessions have a whiteboard on hand and a scribe standing, marker at hand, ready to write up the ideas voiced in the room.
- There are no dumb ideas, so be respectful of everyone’s contribution. But have a little fun too, because the best brainstorming sessions, like the best conversations, involve laughter.
- The optimum result is usually derived from a number of sources. You are probably onto a winning idea when no one can figure out who gets the credit for it.
Go forth and brainstorm!