Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the CPRS Vancouver Chapter’s event “Still kicking: The importance of media releases as storytelling workhorses” lead by Andrew Frank, Instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Here are my personal reflections on the event. Andrew is a great presenter, speaker and teacher. He brings great energy and passion to a room, and encourages open dialogue while taking the time to check for understanding.
Several of his PR students were in attendance, and I can see why – he presents material in a way that is fun and engaging.
Andrew opened the discussion with the thought “Language is persuasive” before proceeding to discuss the importance of media releases in the academic context of social performance and symbolic action.
Most importantly, he made the topic relevant for the audience by going back to the basics and outlining the four practical objectives of the modern-day media release.
1. Document of record
The news release provides a formal record of an announcement, statement, or position. It contains clear sources of attribution for audiences such as media, investors, and employees – to name a few. It is carefully phrased and provides a platform to build message clarity.
2. Storytelling agent
It helps to create a narrative around everything from a product launch to a response for contentious issues. It can also provide a sense of empowerment and increased self efficacy for the group producing the release.
3. Acts symbolically
A media release should “do” or “say” something of significance. Don’t forget the basic newsworthiness qualities required for a successful release and keep in mind Aesop’s “Boy who cried wolf” fable.
4. Provides a script
A media release gives an opportunity to craft and review key messages. It provides a script for all stakeholders who may be discussing the topic.
Andrew also reviewed a few best practices for media releases such as: make it newsworthy, create a great headline, include interesting facts and powerful quotes from “social actors.”
One take-a-way that I found useful and will apply in my own practice is not to include press releases as attachments and to instead put the copy in the body of an email with a link to your website more information. Many reporters will not open an attachment for fear of contracting a computer virus.
Additionally, I will embrace the practice of considering internal audiences when crafting news releases. How an organization is represented publicly has a deep impact on employees and should be a consideration for PR practitioners.
Andrew’s expertise was well received by the audience and I look forward to the next CPRS Speaker series even