Tip Sheet: Content Fusion Keeps News Releases Alive

Typing “death of the press release” into Google yields 34 million results. But if the press release could defend itself, it might borrow Mark Twain’s line: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” In fact, it might be suggested that the core concept of the news release is more alive than it’s ever been.

The year 2011 represents a rebirth of public relations—from chrysalis to butterfly, or more functionally, from Gutenberg to Jobs.

While the singularity of the news release as an organization’s one and only megaphone has long since passed, organizations still need to release news and tell their stories. But the ways they can do that have gotten far richer.

Public relations is still primarily a storytelling business. But now we call that storytelling syndicating valuable and strategic content in social and traditional media. Behind the jargon, among those doing it right, is a great amount of internal realignment and a fusion of understanding among communications, advertising, marketing and interactive.

Said another way, you can’t just flick the syndication switch and begin sharing. That’s why our agency has developed a framework for thinking about the possibilities in the context of an organization’s “storytelling ecosystem.”

We like to think of it as “content fusion”: distributing effective stories across the wide variety of communications platforms available today. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to best create the best fusion possible:

â–¶ Tip #1: Listen to What the Man Said

It is true—it all starts with content. But it is content in context. And the context is what’s important to the very people you want to have conversations with. “Enough about you, let’s talk about me” isn’t a winning person-to-person approach at all. It’s not a winning approach for company-to-constituents either.

â–¶ Tip #2: Free Your Mind and Your Assets Will Follow

Every organization has unique stories. These stories come from the organization’s endemic assets: its people, events, data, research, etc. Identifying these assets helps a company become its own news outlet, producing content beyond what was once considered “news.”

We’re talking about real, business-centric, informative stories that only that organization could create. Sometimes they are entertaining. Sometimes they are analytical or research-driven. Ideally, however, they are some combination of all of these forms and more.

â–¶ Tip #3 Five Ways to Skin a Cat

As Apple says in a current TV spot: “Now, we can watch a newspaper, listen to a magazine.” When preparing to tell your story, think about how it can be retold as a video, augmented with photography, articulated with infographics, and energized with audio. In short, stories do not live on words alone. We are too mobile, too visual and too hungry to be satisfied by a one-course meal.

â–¶ Tip #4: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The five formats above (text, photos, graphics, audio, video) all have multiple transportation options, or content vehicles. For example news releases, slideshows, white papers, social posts and e-mails are among a list of vehicles all up for consideration every time news or a story is looking for life.

â–¶ Tip #5 Fly Me to the Moon and Let Me Sail Among the Stars

These vehicles can be driven to multiple destinations to reach desired audiences: Web sites, blogs, events, Facebook, LinkedIn, Scribd, SlideShare, YouTube, newspapers, TV, radio and magazines. Importantly, as one format can use many different vehicles, each vehicle can get to multiple destinations.

A video shot at CES lives on the company’s Web site, its blog and YouTube channels, or on a related video on someone else’s YouTube channel. The related infographics created for the booth at the Consumer Electronics Show are shared on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and scores of other destinations.

â–¶ Tip #6: It’s So Funny How We Don’t Talk Anymore

The sharing has just barely started. Your CES video might drive comments, tweets and posts from its presence on YouTube or the corporate Web site or blog or other destinations that host the video. These comments, tweets and posts start conversations that humanize and build trust for the brand and company. Not to be overlooked, these very conversations can in turn spawn more stories and begin the cycle again. PRN


David Krejci is executive vice president, digital communications, at Weber Shandwick’s Minneapolis office. He can be reached at dkrejci@webershandwick.com.