Are Your News Releases Making Business Editors Happy?  One AP News Editor Explains …

Happiness is a big subject these days, but not one usually affiliated with editors and publicists.  But why not?  Our jobs are intertwined and the better job we do of supporting journalists, as well as our clients, the happier, we all will be.happiness 2

My favorite information source, BusinessWire, held a webinar, featuring Philana Patterson, AP’s Small Business and Breaking News Editor, who gave her tips on “How to Make a Business Editor Happy” – here are 5 tips that I hope you find helpful.

  • Reduce industry jargon and use clear, crisp writing. Make sure your releases don’t get counted in the annual SHIFT Communications Top 50 Most Overused Words in Press Releases Stick to the basics and make sure your release could be easily understood by any reader.
  • Use subheads throughout your releases to organize news. Breaking up your release into easily-digestible chunks, clearly labeled with explanatory subheads, makes it easy for editors to locate the topics most relevant to their beats or areas of interest.
  • Consider using bullets to highlight key items. Much like subheads, bullets make it easy to see at a glance what the key takeaways from your news are.
  • Include a phone number on your release. If it’s important enough to send out, it’s important enough to get asked about. Make sure interested media can get in touch with you. Business Wire makes sure your contact info is available to all of our receiving media points.
  • Make sure the contact person is working all day the day your news moves. If your usual contact person isn’t going to be in the office, make sure there’s an alternate contact available. Nothing’s more frustrating for editors than trying to do follow-up only to be told the contact isn’t in that day.

Tip #6 – Patterson also offered one very important tip for making sure your news gets noticed in the first place:  Include a photo.  According to Patterson, many of their subscribers tell the AP that they mostly use stories that carry photos.  Visual elements are particularly important for mobile and online users who gravitate towards visual-based reporting.

happiness 3Bennett notes: I hope this kind of dialogue will help some corporate PR departments to understand the old AP style of no images, no subheads, just plain facts in black and white might not be what works today.  And if we could convince CEO’s that their industry jargon is not making for useful copy … now that would make me very happy too.

With thanks to Phil Dennison, Business Wire for making this information available.

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