The Future of News Distribution
News Direct has transformed the analog newswire experience into a digital and easy-to-use workflow of the future.
Table of Contents
- Gregg Castano on the Future of Newswires & Press Releases
- Pitching a Press Release in the Modern Age
- Targeting the Right Media in the 21st Century
- SEO: What Is It & Why Do You Need It?
- The KPIs Every Up-to-Date PR Specialist Should Know
- Navigating a PR Crisis in Today’s World
- Why Multimedia Is News Distribution’s Destiny
- News Direct Is the Newswire of the Future
Gregg Castano on the Future of Newswires & Press Releases
The creation of smart devices has inadvertently led to a never-ending news cycle. No longer do families wait until 5 p.m. to tune into the day's news. There is a consistent stream of information and data delivered directly to the palm of your hand via news outlet apps, Google, or social media. This has transformed the way people consume news and the way journalists find and report it. With the rise of multimedia-based social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok, it's become clear that all media—including news—is shifting to a video- or picture-based format. To keep up with the constant news cycle and ever-changing ways news is distributed and consumed, newswires will have to adapt.
"If traditional newswires don't transition themselves from what they are now, which is fairly analog, to digital, they're not going to be around forever," explains News Direct Founder and CEO Gregg Castano. "Ultimately, their user experience is going to have to improve. They're gonna have to adapt the user experience side and the workflow side to keep people coming back to them."
Castano believes the traditional press release will continue to exist, but wane in popularity.
"There will always be a need for press releases because you can't always send out a video to explain what you're talking about," he says. "Some things require writing, so I don't think they're going to die. But I think there's going to be a transition, and it seems to be happening already."
Castano predicts a transformation from all, or mostly text, releases to standalone multimedia. Recently, he's noticed more and more press releases through News Direct featuring combinations of text and multimedia.
"I think it'll always be kind of a mix," he says. "But I think the mix is going to shift more toward exclusively multimedia versus text. It's gonna take a few years for it to move all the way to the other side."
To prepare for this shift, communications professionals will need to change the way they create and distribute press releases and pitch journalists. News Direct has created this comprehensive resource guide to assist communications professionals as they strategically navigate news distribution in the modern age, and prepare for its future.
Pitching a Press Release in the Modern Age
How many emails do you receive each day from coworkers, clients, friends, family and promotions? It's likely in the dozens, or even hundreds. Double, maybe even triple that number, and you'll arrive at the amount of emails journalists receive in their inboxes each day. Global PR agency FleishmanHillard's Senior Vice President and Partner Jan Rasmussen tells News Direct some journalists have reported receiving approximately 300 irrelevant emails per day. With so many pitches and promotions clogging up inboxes today, it can be challenging to break through the noise.
It's clear your pitch must leave an impression. Check out News Direct's nine tips for pitching a press release in the digital age:
1. Target the Right Reporter
Research and reach out to the journalists who write about your subjects. Utilize media databases to search for reporters by beat, specialization, and publication.
2. Think Like a Journalist
Provide value to the journalist and the potential reader in your pitch. This means your pitch should explain why it's relevant, the problems it may solve, a current event it relates to, or why it's necessary data.
3. Develop a Relationship With Media Contacts
Don't just reach out to journalists when you have a pitch ready. Begin a dialogue before you have a pitch by introducing yourself and organization. Review their previous work and ask questions.
4. Collaborate With Reporters
Reporters want to collaborate. In fact, Fractl's "Pitching Publishers Survey" found 70 percent of publishers prefer to collaborate on ideas, as opposed to 30 percent who want to receive a finished asset.
5. Try an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line
The subject line can make or break your pitch. Keep it short, and tailor each to the specific editor or writer.
6. Follow Common Pitching Guidelines
Typical guidelines include keeping the pitch short, double-checking grammar, answering the 5Ws and 1H, spicing it up, and following an easily digestible format.
7. Include Multimedia or Use Standalone Media
Every article or social media post incorporates a type of multimedia, so it's important to include infographics, images, or videos in your pitch. Plus, according to the 2019 News Direct Market Assessment study, 86 percent of journalists find standalone media appealing.
8. Schedule the Pitch for the Right Time
The best time to send a pitch are Thursdays, Mondays, and Tuesdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
9. Follow Up on Your Pitch
Wait one week after sending your pitch before you send a follow-up email politely checking in on its status. Summarize the pitch into one to two sentences, as a quick reminder.
Targeting the Right Media in the 21st Century
When distributing your press release and pitches, it's critical you target the right geographic regions, types of media outlets, and beat reporters. Target the right audience and journalists in four simple steps.
First, identify your target audience. Determine the characteristics of the group reading the press release and the type of reporter you want to pitch. This can be accomplished through segmentation, which enables you to group your audience based on readers and reporters. Understand who your readers are, where they're located, what they're reading, and the types of media they're consuming.
As for the journalists, segment them based on the industry they cover and the publications they're featured in. Ask yourself: "Does this story angle appeal to more than one industry? Could this information be used by different journalists with varying perspectives?" A second way to target your audience involves reviewing press release key performance indicators in your newswire's analytics tab. Such data can help you understand which outlets and regions are performing better than others.
Next, determine the type of media to target. Do you want to send your press releases and pitches to traditional or digital media? This all depends on the audience you're trying to reach. For instance, if your press release is geared toward males in their 20s, you may want to pitch it to Barstool Sports editors. However, if it's about a new clothing line for teen girls, pitch the writers at Seventeen.
Then, build your media lists. Once you've identified your audience and determined the types of media to target, you can curate lists of journalists who may be interested in your story. Utilize a paid media database to directly connect or search for target journalists using Google.
Finally, use a wire service to facilitate your media outreach. Wire services enable you to target specific countries or regions. Plus, they ensure your stories will be seen by many, including potential reporters.
SEO: What Is It & Why Do You Need It?
You've likely heard everyone talking about the buzzword search engine optimization (SEO). SEO management site and domain authority scorer Moz defines SEO as "the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results." To do so, you must understand what people are searching for, the keywords they're using, the type of content they want, and the best possible answers.
So, why is it so important?
SEO drives organic traffic—users who don't arrive through advertisements—to your website. Organic search results appear more credible to searchers and typically receive more clicks than pa id advertisements. According to Moz, only about 2.8 percent of people click on ad results. While acting as an unparalleled traffic driver, SEO can lead to increased quality leads, over time.
Use the following six best practices to reap the benefits of SEO:
1. Target Short- & Long-Tail Keywords
Utilize online tools to research the best keywords for your campaign. Such tools include Keyword Surfer, Google Trends, Semrush, Term Explorer, and more.
2. Include a Subtle Call to Action
Add a phrase or sentence to the end of your content, asking users to learn more information or download complementary multimedia.
3. Add Multimedia
Incorporate videos, images, and infographics to your content.
4. Write a Keyword-Based Headline
Craft an attention-grabbing headline to pull in readers. Include high-volume keywords to ensure your content ranks.
5. Insert Links
Link back to reputable sources and to other content you've created.
6. Write for Humans
Don't write for the algorithm, because Google will pick up on it. Write for human readers looking for answers.
The KPIs Every PR Specialist Should Know
In the digital age, most campaigns—including PR communications—are driven by data and analytics. For public relations professionals, such data comes in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs), which measure how your efforts achieve a particular goal. Two of the most important metrics include social media engagement and newswire distribution analysis.
When reviewing social media performance, track the number of followers you gain or lose when posting certain content. Analyze traffic changes and audit engagement levels by monitoring likes, comments, and shares. Important data also includes click-through rates for your profile link, mentions, hashtag usage, and special codes.
Newswire metrics are also key to future campaign success. Review total traffic and potential visibility to understand the number of engagements and views. Track click data to find out the number of people who took action, and earned media pickup to determine if the story was picked up by a reporter. Select newswires may also enable users to track social media engagement directly in the platform.
Although website data is more important to the marketing team, PR pros shouldn't shy away from checking in on these metrics if both departments are working toward the same objectives. Data to review includes traffic, referrals, conversion and bounce rates, backlinks, and share of voice.
Where Do You Find These Metrics?
Every business social media profile comes equipped with an analytics tab, showcasing the aforementioned data. Newswires typically also have their own performance dashboards, providing information about every press release. Websites also usually come equipped with their own analytics. However, if you're interested in more data on your social media or website, check these out ⟶
Navigating a PR Crisis in Today's World
Due to the prevalence of social media, public relations crises seem to arise almost daily. It only takes mere seconds for individuals to take out their camera and capture a situation on video. A single tweet or post from a top executive can result in negative press coverage for an entire company. Because a crisis can happen within seconds, it's important to be prepared. Follow these 11 steps to ensure you're ready to manage any crisis:
- 1. Develop a crisis management plan detailing how you'll handle the crisis and prevent one from occurring.
- 2. Build a crisis management team of executives, PR professionals, and legal representatives.
- 3. Update and test the plan annually.
- 4. Pre-draft communications such as social posts, press releases, and statements.
- 5. Craft an initial response within one hour using your pre-drafted messages by filling in any blanks.
- 6. Ensure your spokesperson is trained and up-to-date on the latest key points.
- 7. Write and release a public apology and call to action showcasing the company is changing based on feedback.
- 8. Utilize all available communication channels including email, text, customer service line, voicemail, website, and social media.
- 9. Send any promised information to key stakeholders or reporters, such as statements or changed company policies.
- 10. Implement any corrective measures you promised in your public statements.
- 11. Analyze and revise your response efforts for future crises.
Why Multimedia Is News Distribution's Destiny
What do you gravitate toward when surfing the web or browsing social media? Likely the answer is multimedia: images, infographics, videos, animations, or GIFs. According to nonpartisan research hub Pew Research Center, the top-used sites are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest—all platforms focused on video and image content.
Younger generations, such as Gen Z, spend most of their time on Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, favoring video and photo content over others, according to Business Insider. As the younger generation begins to make up more of the population, it's in communications professionals' best interests to cater to their interests by incorporating multimedia content or providing standalone multimedia. Plus, multimedia provides several additional benefits.
Multimedia's ability to stimulate a variety of senses at once enables the viewer to connect with the image or video, inciting engagement and interaction.
According to inbound marketing and sales platform HubSpot, visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types.
Adding multimedia that supports your content has the power to boost your search engine optimization, potentially increasing your organic Google search rankings.
Enhanced Earned Media Pickup
The aforementioned "News Direct Market Assessment" study found 86 percent of journalists find standalone media appealing, meaning that utilizing it will improve your content's chances of being picked up by a reporter.
News Direct Is the Newswire of the Future
Castano, the former president of Business Wire, custom-built News Direct to transform the distribution process for the modern age. After realizing the traditional wire services would never change their outdated ways, Castano decided to create a newswire to meet the ever-evolving needs of modern media outreach.
News Direct offers a completely different distribution platform, featuring a self-directed workflow, a collaborative content studio, state-of-the-art security, and a new pricing model. Gone are the word count and geographic limitations. In its place is a flat-fee pricing model that's both transparent and predictable. Plus, News Direct specifically caters to the current media consumption trends by offering their proprietary Digital Asset Direct release option — the ability to send standalone multimedia direct to top tier media outlets. Communications professionals can now distribute a single image, infographic, or video with simply a headline and caption — no need to craft a whole text release in order to embed your multimedia content.