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Finding Errors in Your News Release

PR Newswire Interview with Christine Pride

This week I visited the Boston Bureau of PR Newswire to get the latest info on what services PR Newswire offers to its customers.  While I was there I met Christine Pride, Editorial Supervisor for the Bureau.  Christine was kind enough to answer my questions for this interview.

Tell me a little about your background, how did you come to work at PR Newswire?

I joined PR Newswire seven years ago this June as a recent college graduate.  The only experience I had prior to joining was as editor-in-chief of both my high school and college newspapers.   I began my career at PR Newswire as an assistant editor and have since moved up the ranks.  When I was graduating from college I never knew a "PR Newswire" existed, but when I interviewed here I knew it would be a perfect fit. PR Newswire is a great company to work for: it cares about its clients and its employees.

What's your role at PR Newswire here in Boston?

I am the editorial supervisor in the Boston office. I oversee the editorial staff, handle copy acceptability issues, do the majority of news release checks and troubleshoot problems.

How often do you find mistakes in press releases?

In 2004 alone, PR Newswire editors caught over 89,000 client errors (or 429 per thousand releases) and alerted our clients so that the releases could be corrected prior to distribution.  We are always on the lookout for mistakes in our clients' news releases -- anything from grammar and punctuation or incorrect dates and sometimes discrepancies in earnings.  We are the last eyes that see news releases before they are disseminated over the wire, so we are careful to read through releases and look for mistakes.

Does technical language work in a press release?

It depends.  If a company's target media audience is tech trades, then yes, technical language works. We send all of our releases to the appropriate trade community and the media covering the tech industry knows to expect a release to be heavy in technical language.  However, I would advise clients who are not targeting the tech trades to go easy on language that an everyday reader might not understand.  And, if the news release targeting a broader audience really calls for the 'tech speak' then the writer should explain it as much as possible to give context to the reader.

How has PR changed over the last 7 years in your experience?

I think the most significant way PR has changed over the past 7 years is a direct result of the Internet.   PR is no longer simply about reaching the media - the Internet has allowed PR professionals to speak directly to consumers, business partners, investors, and all key stakeholders.  The media will always remain an important audience for PR professionals, but the Internet has opened up many new communications channels.  For example, news releases distributed over PR Newswire are also sent to among 3,600 websites, online databases and financial networks, in addition to the web sites of more than 500 media organizations such as the New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Arizona Republic, and the ABC television stations' websites.  These releases are posted verbatim and the PR professional does not have to rely solely on the media to get their messages out.   Another example of how the Internet has changed PR is in its ability to provide proof of ROI and feedback for PR professionals.  We offer services that can help PR professionals understand how many people are reading their news releases, what keywords are used to find news releases on major search engines, and much more.  And last, but certainly not least, tools such as eWatch -- PR Newswire's monitoring service -- are built upon the Internet as a communications platform and enable PR professionals to monitor what is being said about them on the world wide web.  That's a huge advantage for PR professionals who want to manage their brand or simply understand how they are being perceived by some of their key stakeholders!

Have press releases changed in the last 7 years? If so in what way?

Yes, news releases have changed.  Today, news releases include feedback options, multimedia components, and can be used not only as media relations tools, but also as sales generating tools in ways never before possible.  For example, PR Newswire offers a service called Search Engine Visibility (SEV) to our clients complimentary with all national releases.  SEV has many benefits including positioning a news release higher in search engine results, giving it a shelf-life of up to 6 months, and providing important feedback on the keywords used to find the news release as well as what search engines were used and the post-click action of the searcher.  Many of our clients use SEV to understand how their audiences are searching for them, but there's a huge sales-generating opportunity that SEV provides as well.  Imagine if you put a link to an ecommerce website in your news release and that link was exclusive to the news release.  A searcher, looking for information that will lead to a buying opportunity, finds your news release because it has been optimized by SEV and appears in the top results. That searcher clicks on your release, reads your message and clicks on the link to the buying opportunity.  You've just generated a pre-qualified lead for your sales department directly from your news release!

News releases have changed in other ways too - you can now link directly from a news release to an expert profile that provides more information on the executive quoted in the news release, thus increasing your chance to generate good media exposure.  And, now, more than ever, our clients are taking advantage of sending photos and logos with their news releases.  Logos are a great way to brand your news and photos are a great way to illustrate your news. They grab the attention of the reader and it's an easy and quick way to get your message across.  In addition, services such as the Multimedia News Release which you wrote about in an earlier post, combines text, audio, video, photos, logos and links in one single platform - that's a very significant development in how companies can communicate their message using a news release.

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