News Release Alert for CEOs, CFOs and other executives, 1 of 2 parts

Admit it, Mr. or Mrs. CEO. You’re good at a lot of things. Really good. But writing? Communicating with media? Knowing how to assemble a newsworthy release? Is that really a core competency? In most cases, that’s a No.

It’s a typical reality for PR professionals.  An executive returns a news release, “revised.”

We’re already flinching before we even look. It’s a Pavlov’s Dog thing.

We peek, then stare at the whole page. Who bled all over it? Is that spilled ketchup, blood or just red ink?

Executive revisions. *Sigh*

We flush our emotion and begin to take a serious look at the news release. The nervous tick revs back up. We weep as we see the revised:

Revised/The Headline: Includes the words “exciting” and “world leaders in ….”

Revised/Lead paragraph: What was a tightly written news assignment now shares nothing but useless adjectives, passive verbs, no nouns worth mentioning. And a lead paragraph longer than most news releases in total.

Revised/Supporting content: A cut-n-paste from the product brochure.

Revised/The executive quote: He’s “excited” again. “Enthusiastic” too.

Revised/Facts & Figures: Scratched out with a scribble: Can’t we be more vague about its purpose and price? Sure, we’ll send those out in smoke signals later on.

Revised/An objective source to be quoted: Another scribble: Hey my brother-in-law is an investor and heads up another company. Can we use him?”

Revised/An index added to the back?

Hell, where’d I put my updated resume?

While I share this somewhat lightheartedly, these have all actually occurred (except the index), large businesses and small.

I start with blaming us, the PR professionals. We evidently have not adequately educated our clients about the press release, its purpose, structure and style. Then I blame the power brokers–the men and women who have top positions, top titles and responsibilities, some of which really don’t care about the rules or quirks of media relations. Or press releases. They just want it their way. For the PR agency, that’s like trying to live between hell and heaven without getting burned or singing with angels. It doesn’t work.

Get a grasp of these, and you’ll be the top go-to executive of every communicators and agency you engage.

7 Press Release Must-Knows for the Executive Team

N-e-w-s. No news, no news release. A release must share news to a relevant audience and be clearly evident by the editor and reporter. The difficult, ambiguous and often-changing challenge is the nature of “what’s news?” Beyond murder, scandal and other mayhem, news is subjective, or is news to a specific subset of publications and reporters. The city reporter at a daily newspaper won’t find news about a great event in Kaufman County if he or she writes for Collin County. A great new feature story about kids raising money for a cancer victim is a story.  If these kids are in Fort Worth and you’re in Frisco, it’s not a story.

The No-News News Release. Companies have plenty of these (too many, in fact.)

In the day of pushing “news” and information to Twitter followers, Facebook friends and the like, there is a definite place for the No-News News Release. Write it just like any release, but instead of distributing via a wire service or to reporters, simply share internally, on the intranet, even as a posted news release  on your website’s online press room. What’s the value? It shows action, movement and progress. It furthers communications internally and externally. And it doesn’t irritate reporters who really don’t care that Sarah Bell is celebrating 45 years as the company accountant.

Where are the other 5?

Coming tomorrow, read the complete 7 Must-Knows.

If you’re desperate, Subscribe, then send me an e-mail. I’ll send them right away.

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