Tuesday, December 18, 2012

PR - Who, What, Where, When and Why

There is a swell of opinion that the old PR approach is over now that companies can be their own online publishers.

There are even 'new rules' for publishing news such as detailed in David Meerman Scott's book The New Rules of Marketing & PR  described as 'A Businessweek Bestseller'' and yes, it is printed on paper. But wait. Despite the onward march of online publishing, there has not yet been the expected death of the printed medium. In fact within the b-2-b sectors we handle for clients the media we deal with has remained surprisingly resilient with only a few titles failing - but they would probably have done so anyway, not because of Internet competition. One or two have moved to online versions only, but most, albeit late in the day have developed an Internet business model to work with the traditional printed magazine. Pricing has evolved for email news delivery and web site news publication rather than use the free news model funded by general advertising revenue. Instead, charging for the news delivery, maybe with banner options in the package too, has a direct relationship between editorial content and payment. So for some publishers - and this is by no means all of them - there is a different approach needed for PR where editorial is part of the advertising deal. Writing for the trade press is evolving away from a single press release to attract the attention of an editor. As well as the traditional press release, there can be other versions which include what are in effect short articles commissioned on the back of an advertising package as well as news published free online in various ways.

Writing for news publishers in your b2b sector is no longer one press release suits all. Your press release may initially go to editors or news desks for editorial action - to publish or not, to edit to suit the publication's house style, edit to abbreviate, edit headline only or even where the originator is a trusted source, to publish  as received. Of course there is another audience to write for and that is your customers and prospects, because every business can be a publisher too - on your web site using a Virtual News Office or basic news page, on social media, via eNews and in company newsletters.

Traditionally press releases have been organised in a particular way. Usually editors will want to write their own headlines so the press release headline should be factual, concise and informative rather than some witty pun, for example. But where the story is to be published unedited or on your own site, then a good headline should attract the attention of your readers and draw them in. The headline is the first thing they all see. The opening paragraph is likewise  crucial and must communicate the essence of the story - the who, what, where, why and when. Because if this fails to raise interest, nobody - editors or customers are going to bother to read more. This is far from the whole story but if readers don't get this far, the other content is lost anyway.

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