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Online channels, bad spelling & six golden rules of PR

Online channels, bad spelling & six golden rules of PR
May 14, 2013 suecarr

Do I really need to include online channels in a PR programme? Recent research would suggest that yes, you do, as it confirms that journalists in busy newsrooms in the world of instant news and reporting are increasingly using online social media in their search for a good story. V Formation’s Diane Wood explains, and takes a fresh look at the golden rules of good PR.

The main findings of a recent research paper that set out to find how journalists source stories and track down more information about the companies involved, confirmed that twitter and company blogs are now a regular feature of their story investigations and research.

Journalists in the UK and America are leading the way in using social media in this way, proving that social media really should be incorporated into an integrated marcomms campaign, in order to present a coordinated, consistent and informative online profile for the business.

In my ‘time’ in PR, I have seen the role move from working with the traditional printed and broadcast media, to next embrace and incorporate the internet, and today include all of these and the ever-growing portfolio of online social media channels.

However, despite these incredibly exciting advances in the multichannel life of a PR, it is interesting, as well as concerning, that journalists are frustrated by the same things PRs do in today’s electronic age, as they were 20-plus years ago.

Here are six tried and trusted tips to help you avoid some of the main irritants for journalists:

  1. Be accurate – poor grammar and spelling in press releases is inexcusable, and journalists see this as a real turn off. Nothing beats a proof read!
  2. Don’t badger busy journalists unnecessarily – rather than calling to check they’ve had the press release perhaps it would be a much better use of everyone’s time to pre-empt the story with a call, to ensure the information matches the publication’s profile, industry and readership. Remember too that if a news story is well written, topical, interesting and newsworthy then that will serve to catch the journalist’s eye. Better to be remembered for good copy than for chasing badly written copy.
  3. Be clear, concise and ensure stories are well written. Best case scenario is that your press release has five to 10 seconds to interest the journalist, so make sure the headline and first (short) paragraph work hard to communicate the main features of the story. Keep it simple, understandable and to the point.
  4. Be contactable – include the relevant ‘for further information’ contact details, which should be a short, snappy standard sign-off to each and every press release or article; feedback from journalists suggests that alarmingly this isn’t always included. And don’t issue a story moments before going into a meeting and turning off your phone. Make sure journalists can speak to you and/or company spokespeople as soon as the story reaches them.
  5. Recognise that time is precious – it is important to make your story as easy to use and follow-up as possible for journalists. Providing the story, contact information, biographies, photographs and captions in one clear, snappy communication is vital to build a reputation for being helpful, responsive and professional.
  6. Adopt a coordinated approach – across all online, offline and social media. Use your online newsroom, company blog and social media pages to present a joined-up, multichannel online profile. Not only is this good practice, but it also plays a big part in helping journalists find you and/or your company (which this recent research suggests they do want), making it easy for search engines to find you, as well as demonstrating to journalists that the content is fresh, up to date and available.

For more useful, practical tips and guidance on the subject of PR and social media, see the PR Handbook and Tips for Online Newsrooms.

For more on the research paper, Likes, Loves and Loathes of Journalists click here.

Find out more

For help with ensuring your organisation is press friendly, or to discuss a co-ordinated online and offline marketing campaign, email Diane, contact us on 0115 822 6364 or follow us on twitter @vformationltd.