March 15, 2006

News release formats and some guidelines for more effective online news distribution

Distributing your company's news... everyone's doing it... enter the press release. If you or your company is working hard then you need to spread the word, however, in order to effectively get the word out and have your news picked up on you need to be careful and be sure to follow a few simple rules.
- format your news according to a generally accepted news release layout - a couple of samples... /
- run spell-check (ok, I've messed up on this one before too!)
- list a run date and if you are sending news in advance, clearly state that NEWS IS UNDER EMBARGO TILL DATE XXXX in the first line of your message
- provide details of a contact person, web address, and email address
- don't simply send your news release to everyone (i.e., all gis lists, newsgroups etc...) take some time and find a few editorial contacts and maybe your business partners and associates.
- don't send to every news editor on the planet... if it's GIS news send to GIS and technology editors... I just got a news release on a new garbage can cleaning solution... nice!
- past the entire news release as ASCII TXT into the body of your email. Be sure to copy from a simple text editor that doesn't use special characters (i.e.. notepad, txtpad). Special characters (like those pesky TM and (R) trademark symbols tend to get garbled in the translation from email to web.
- don't send ZIP files.. sorry but most editors won't have time to mess around uncompressing your files
- don't attach high resolution images that total 1, 2, or even 5 MB in size. If your news is going online the editor will want a low-res (max 60KB) image in either GIF or JPG format - max 600 pixels in width
- when sending your news send from your email client using the BCC option. I can't tell you how many people use CC or simply email everyone using the TO function.. thanks for providing me with all those valuable contacts though!
- don't format using PDF unless you have to. PDFs are an option is necessary, however, distilling PDF docs to txt for use on the web takes time and once again can result in some mistakes etc... if you have to attach as a document simply use MS Word. Embedding images within the Word doc is great too!
- Don't know where to start? Simply grab a major company's news release from a newswire service (online) and use that as a template and a starting point. One you write the release, get someone else to read it and mark it (Q/C) up for you
- be sure to follow up and thank the editor for running your news ;0)
This list is by no means complete, however, I regularly get items that go against some or even all of these "rules".

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