It is 2017, and the fast-paced world of public relations and digital technology are constantly changing. We are preparing to enter a dynamic field of social media; online reporting platforms such as Help A Reporter Out (HARO) put journalists in direct contact with sources, and countless other organizations that take attention away from our own. If we aren’t careful, our clients and our profession could fade away into the noise. If you have any interest in the world of media relations, or public relations in general, you need to be ready. So let’s start with something we are all familiar with: the humble news release.
For many public relations majors, creating a news release is the first skill we learn. It is a staple in our every day professional life, a trusty go-to for many of our publicity needs. But news releases aren’t so cut and dry any more – at least not in all aspects. Changes in technology have called the necessity and the usefulness of the news release into question. It is not used as often, now that public relations uses other means to take a greater role in the marketing mix. What does this mean for us? How can we compete with the very technology we want to utilize? Well, according to an article in Public Relations Tactics, “A Creative Mix of Old and New: The Evolution of the News Release,” recent surveys of journalists demonstrate that the traditional news release still takes an important role in the media relationship – if they are well-executed in light of recent advances (Evans, 2016).
What this means is that some practitioners may have to add more minute details to make the life of the reporter a little easier, which will, in turn, increase the likelihood they will use the content. These details include: “transferable and creative content” including background information, biographies, and high-resolution downloadable photographs. Reporters appreciate releases that are “rich in visual and multimedia assets and tell a compelling brand story to get more traction” (Evans, 2016).
Some studies have indicated that we can even send news releases in different ways – through email or even through social media (Evans, 2016). It is all about building a stronger relationship with media professionals. Journalists are facing a decline in staff, as well as an increase in demand, so well-developed, digitalized news releases have become highly beneficial to completing their work (Evans, 2016). We all know that thoughtfulness pays off, and technological developments make it all the more important for us to build strong rapport with our journalists.
It is, and forever will be, undeniably difficult for us, as professionals, to keep up with this ever-changing field. Practitioners with 10+ years of experience may already be falling behind. It is critical to remember that even our modest little news releases could change drastically, or disappear entirely with the times. Only our ability to adapt and welcome these advancements with open arms and an impeccable attention to detail will guarantee our success.
Teghan Simonton is a sophomore with a dual major in public relations and journalism. She serves as the content coordinator for Waynesburg PRSSA and as managing editor for the award-winning Yellow Jacket student newspaper. She is an active member of Red Brick Communications and the Society of Professional Journalists. In her free time, Teghan is a member of the cross country and track teams.