When to Use a News Release: Is Your ‘News’ Newsworthy?

when to use a news release
One of the communication tools I see brands misuse most often is the news release. Brands regularly issue releases that have little (or no) news value and are circulated in ways that wouldn’t reach the target audience.  Let’s shed let on this topic by looking at what a news release is, what it does and when to utilize this valuable tool.

The Anatomy of a News Release
First, let’s get the formalities out of the way: News releases and press releases are, in fact, the same animal. Previously, this tool was predominately called a press release but more recently has been deemed a news release because the release is not just sent to the press anymore. It can additionally be housed on your website, announced via your company blog, sent to bloggers and shared within social media and other online media.

A news release is a tool that can be used to communicate news to your customers, clients, competitors, stakeholders and the media. News releases can be an integral part in gaining media coverage because they give the media a reference point for the who, what, where, when, how and why for their story.

As for the actual structure of the release, here are elements that should be incorporated into your release:

  • A SEO optimized headline
  • Who, what, where, when, how and why
  • Point of contact with contact information
  • A relevant quote (from your CEO, charity representative or other top, relevant influencer)
  • A strategic boilerplate
  • SEO optimized content within the release

Is Your ‘News’ Really Newsworthy?
The truth: Sometimes, what you think is newsworthy, really just isn’t. Or maybe it is but it doesn’t require a news release. Something might impact your business, increase morale or be innovative on its own but that doesn’t meant it’s going to be appropriate for a news release or even media coverage.

This is one of the reasons why having a communications expert on hand is so important. They can help you determine if your ‘news’ is actually news. Then they can develop a strategy for who the target audiences should be and what channels of communication should be used to get the news out.

Don’t worry, just because your office remodel may not warrant a news release, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make for a great feature story about creative work spaces. It’s all about the tools you use. Too often brands bombard media with irrelevant or ill-timed news via a news release and unfortunately, that results in a quick delete without further thought.

When to Use a News Release

Although there are exceptions, and others we can add, here is a list of situations where a news release could be appropriate:

  • New Product
  • Product Relaunch or Re-brand
  • Grand Opening
  • Award or certification
  • A charity drive
  • An event

To help gauge whether a news release is appropriate, think about the items you usually see in the media you’d like to send a release to and ask yourself:

  • Is it a business journal, local paper, TV outlet or blogger?
  • What do they usually cover?
  • Would I want to read this if it wasn’t about me?
  • Is this really news?

There are definitely a variety of variables that can influence whether your news requires a news release and it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Current events, target audiences and demographics can influence whether a news release is best suited or best canned.

Once you’ve determined that you need a release, it’s time bring in an expert to write your release and develop a list of key media influencers who should receive the release. You can also determine whether it’s cost-effective and relevant to use a wire service and where the release should be shared (linked within your website, announced via the company blog, etc.)

Can you think of other news-worthy items where a news release would be appropriate?

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Kate is an entrepreneur and award-winning public relations influencer based in Columbus, Ohio. She founded Belle Communications with the vision to inspire meaningful work and thriving relationships for her clients, team and self. Kate oversees business development and client strategy, championing tactics that translate into tangible outcomes. Within the past year, she has been recognized as one of PR News' Top Women in PR, Smart Business Network's "Smart 50" Class of 2016 and Columbus Business First's Forty Under 40 Class of 2016. When she’s not busy being a girl boss, Kate enjoys exploring new cities and beaches, eating Paleo and any opportunity to snuggle a puppy or shop.