It is very important to ensure that the news release actually contains news. The reason is simply that editors and journalists need a news story as a “peg” on which to “hang” their article, because they can’t be in a position of “endorsing” (i.e. simply praising) the individual or organization that is the subject of the release. So, let’s examine the nature of news.
What is news?
I also stated in my previous article that a (not necessarily complete) definition of news is an event that is new or novel. Or it can be an event that causes a situation to change into a new phase.
How does this fit in with the aim of the news release?
A news release has two aims;
1. an overt aim: to provide news to an editor or journalist
2. a covert aim: to obtain publicity for the person about whom, or the organization about which the release is written (i.e. the client of the PR/marketing consultant, press relations officer, etc).
However, the second, longer-term aim will not be achieved, unless the news release has already achieved its first (overt) aim, simply because, if it contains no news, it will be disregarded by journalists and editors and the client will not receive the desired publicity.
This may seem like stating the obvious, but you would be surprised how often writers of so-called news releases mail out something that actually contains no news – or just an extremely thin veneer of news – and which is simply a statement of how wonderful the client is. There may well be reasons for this, such as an over-eagerness to please the client, or pressure from the client to issue a news release at all costs. However, the PR professional is failing in his/her duty if the client is not given clear, authoritative advice about which sort of release will and which sort will not be used by the press and media.
More detailed examples of news
So, let’s set out some (in no particular order) concrete examples of what constitutes news, for the purposes of a news release:
- the development or launch of a new product or service
2. the client secures a significant contract
3. a significant addition to the staff of a client organization
4. an expert opinion about/reaction to an external event that is relevant to the client’s business (especially if it’s an unusual opinion/reaction)
5. a development/modification of an existing product/service
6. the cessation of a relevant product or service
7. the client’s situation changes in some way for the better
8. a relevant retirement or death.
Although it’s impossible to give a cast-iron guarantee that any news release will be used by the press and/or media, by following the above principles, you will help to make it more effective and successful.