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Communicators’ take in new year planner: You need to spruce up that media release

As the year ends, it’s an ideal time for communicators across the board to take stock of those “little things” that posed a challenge in 2023, and tended to sour corporate-media relationships.

Central is that media invite or press release, and how perfecting it could mean fostering a better working relationship for improved communication strategy in 2024.

From a newsroom point of view, corporate communicators may need to spruce up press invites and releases beyond reproach by a busy newsroom editor and that keen writer.

A press invite may be the only link between the journalist and the much-needed coverage of an upcoming event that is of public interest.

Hence, it’s time consuming for an editor or journalist to receive a press invite or release which the media considers to be worthy highlighting, only to find missing details.

For an invite, it is mostly about the venue, event’s day, who will be present, and the time. Similarly, most press releases are done with sole purpose of “fronting an agenda” in an organisation.

Considering that a journalist’s responsibility in news reporting is to be highly accurate with information, you will want to dig more about the subject, and verify the facts. It is therefore the duty of the journalist to “locate where the story is” and maintain objectivity in reporting.

Yet, an editor or journalist’s job and time should not be consumed in digging PR details whenever in-house organisation communicators fail to meet the standards of preparing a press invite or release.

Also, it is important for a press invite or release to have telephone number and email address of the person to be contacted on behalf of the organisation.

Essentially, a press release inviting journalists to an event should be kept short (two paragraphs or three maximum) and answer basic questions about the event: Who (is inviting/attending), what (is taking place), where (venue), when (day and time) and why (purpose/objective of the event).

Unlike a modern newsroom which nowadays is internet connected, thus one can verify a contact online, previously an editor was forced to walk over to a copy taker to check contacts of an organisation (one who before the advent of internet recorded news from a reporter in the field and typed on a computer).

A telephone directory those days was the reliable book of contacts reference and documented a list of organisations and their landline telephone details. Woe unto you if the organisation you were looking for was not in the directory.

As for a press brief, initials may mean different things to different professionals. Trained communicators, some who even honed their career in the newsroom as journalists before becoming organisational communication specialists, should consider it their job to verify the finer details regarding initials’ referencing.

One may be prompted to think that the omissions only happen with public relations communicators, but no. Interestingly, the errors also pass the eye of former journalists cum corporate communicators with a sound newsroom experience.

And, finally, is the location where the event is to take place. To the modern generation of journalists, this might sound a non-issue because of Google maps. But still, this is necessary, as it eases movement planning and logistics, from a newsroom editor’s perspective.

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