Hi this is Rob Atkinson, with this week’s episode of the podcast. And today we’re going to be talking about the characteristics of a good news release in the digital age. Now if you don’t know this, local news is changing and if you’re still sending a fax to the newsroom and thinking you’re going to get your story covered. Well, guess again. OK. Fax is probably an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Television newsrooms are reinventing themselves and most newsrooms recognize that the most compelling way to tell stories in a digital age is an all-day story experience that starts with social engagement, and that gives updates on digital, context on broadcast, and then offers extras with digital follow ups and then continues with a social conversation.

So, I ask you this how does your news release fit with that new type of model? Does your pitch have a breakout component for social, web, and television? And if so, how could they capitalize on the social engagement you are generating from the story? And also, I want you to think about: is there a different angle that you’re pitching for web and television? And most importantly if your story is big enough, how can the station capitalize on this all-day format?

So, for example imagine your organization is holding a shred-a-thon, that television news station could be out at your company all day long with live reports, updates on Facebook, updates on social media, and you could really own the day.

Keep thinking about what’s the pitch for social, web, and TV in that case. Now reporters are always looking for stories that teach something or will create new skills for the audience through their storytelling. I’ve said this in other podcasts, but you got to make a relationship with a writer or editor in your area. Remember, you have to understand what type of story they want and craft the news release to fit that criteria.

Television newsrooms are reinventing how they report the news and you’re going to get a lot more traction for your client and your business. If you start to change too, and the first step we have to take is stop calling it content marketing. It takes all the passion out of the writing. Don’t tell a story you aren’t passionate about, know your material, spend time and research the subject. You can’t leave your audience with unanswered questions. I see this all the time.

You have to make a list of the questions you have about a story and then take the extra step to ask two or three other people what questions they have. It’s going to make a much better story, and you have to edit and when you’re done with editing edit and then edit some more. The shorter the better. I’ve been writing for 20 years and I’ve never written anything of value that didn’t take time patience, and hard work and the same is true with good writing.

You want to know my trick. The real trick is that you wake up early and write. You’ll find that writing comes much easier to you after a good night’s sleep and also remember when you’re crafting these stories. The best stories are the stories that teach, and the best storytellers can share life lessons.

Let the stories speak to the audience in its own way and then skip the need to tell them what you think. If you must do the moral of the story, ask your audience first to tell you what they think. I guarantee you their answers might teach you and surprise you. Also consider being observer of life. Look for real life examples and words to make your storytelling authentic.

Don’t overuse words that no one uses in real life. In television news I always hated when that anchor says, “the house was fully engulfed.” Trust me, no one has ever driven by a house on fire and yelled “fully engulfed, get out.” Also, when you’re writing, consider visuals, visuals should never be an afterthought. When you start writing, think about the best way to showcase your ideas. Do you have a good photo? Maybe an info graphic. Use them and then write to those assets. And finally, I just want to leave you with this thought. Always have a hero to your story and then use that hero to create a memorable moment you’re going to leave with the audience. Plan for it. Write to it and then finally, edit some more.

If you want to learn more about this week’s topic e-mail me at ratkinson@mill.agency. We’d love to help you succeed.