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The 7 Press Release Must-Knows for CEOs and executives, part 2

This past Tuesday, we began a post, “7 Press Release Must-Knows for CEOs, CFOs and executives,” and shared initial insights, plus two of the seven must-knows. Check out added insights at PRacticalPR TV, plus the insights below.

Here, we list all seven.  THIS IS FOR EXECUTIVES. Read, share, distribute! You can even COMMENT below.

7 Press Release Must-Knows for the Executive Team

#1 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 Phoenix and you’re in Kansas City, not a story.

#2 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 Clara Bell is celebrating 45 years as the company accountant.

#3 Fighting What’s Right vs. Writing Right.  Few executives understand this, or like it. Journalists adhere to “writing that’s right,” based on something called Associated Press Style. It’s a book—several hundred pages—that tells reporters how to write, abbreviate, capitalize and more. Sure, it’s quirky, perhaps even nonsensical. But it’s what you do because that is what reporters do. And our job is to help reporters in every way possible. Don’t let your communicators look foolish. Adhere to AP. This means:

  • No capitalized titles after your name. Sorry.
  • No all-uppercase headlines.
  • No usage of %; You spell out percent.
  • No comma in your company name, i.e. Acme Company Inc. NOT Acme Company, Inc.
  • Based in Texas? Don’t use TX. Texas must always be spelled out.

…and many more

#4 The Anguish of a Good Start. Ever started a race and tripped? It takes you down physically. Your Morale is flattened. The starting line for a news release has two parts: The Headline and the Lead Paragraph. Both are written to compel the reporter and reader to get a fast start that drives them through the entire announcement. In five to seven words, a headline must summarize the entire announcement. The lead paragraph does the same in a limit of 45 to 50 words. They can be agonizing. NOTE: These are the most important parts of the release. Unless they are false or inaccurate, leave them alone.

#5 Maximize Money & The Moment. A news release costs money, so maximize your investment with a good story (audience relevance) and strong story elements, such as:

  • C-level quotes
  • Customer quotes
  • Data, facts, statistics
  • How this story relates to a trend
  • Proof of the story by including your own customer survey data
  • Third-party sources such as industry analysts, consultants and influencers
  • Links back to support pages with data, charts, images and more

Avoid the Knee-Jerk News Release. “Hey, quick, we need a press release about (subject). Hurry! Can we get it today? Whoa, hond on Turbo.  I usually communicate with executives that fast turnaround on a news release is critical when there is breaking news. If  not, we then discuss how important it is to crank it out, el pronto. Here’s the process, dubbed D-I-E.

Discover. This is a simple Q&A: What’s news, who are the players, what’s the significance, are sources available immediately and what’s the confirmed need for such a quick turnaround.

Investigate. Investigate: From here, I look to others involved in the subject, get their take on what’s happening, its value, pertinence and likelihood that we can get a release written, sourced, reviewed and approved to distribute in a day?

Engage/Exit. If the answers ring true, I engage, get to working fast, gathering information, interviewing sources – even giving a heads up to a reporter who may want an exclusive. If the answers don’t ring true, I do a graceful exit by communicating back to the players and explaining the realities, and developing a solution that ensures that you respect their ideas and needs.

Believe in Your Communications Team. This is really important for you, your company and your professional communications team. Work together and create an environment where the executive team and communicators work together,  question, examine, agree and disagree … without worrying about pink slips and grudges. Avoid “delegate and dictate.” Let the team be honest, show their real colors and share Big Ideas.

Lastly, back to the news release. They aren’t magic, mystical or filled with the sounds of a Pied Piper that get media running to your door. A press release is one way to communicate–just one of many ways to share your story.

Got questions, want to learn more? Just ask.

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