Amy Gahran has requested some alternatives to the news release. Here are a dozen blog/RSS-free ideas to consider.
1) Infographic: USA Today seemingly owns the infographic because snappy visuals help show the news instead of simply telling it. Research results work well in this format and stand out from the other news competing for column inches.
2) Advertising: Paid placement can be very useful if you want complete control of the message and when it appears.
3) News Story: Your job is far from over after the first editorial placement. Sending a story you've placed to non-competitive media outlets can be very effective, assuming you have a unique follow-up angle. Your news has already been vetted at this point and can help create momentum.
4) Bullet Point: Can you get your news across in a sentence or two? You should. Concise, substantive writing goes a long way in the attention-deficit-driven world of media relations.
5) Haiku: Creative writing might work, but what if you're announcing an acquisition?
Procter and Gamble
acquired Gillette to grow
and be number one.
Needless to say, you'll need background material to support news poetry.
6) Podcast/mp3 File: We're all listening to podcasts and can think of news that might be effective in this format. If everyone listened to their news releases before sending them out, I suspect their quality would improve dramatically.
7) Phone/E-Mail: Phone and e-mail are sometimes used in tandem with news releases, but consider using them to simply continue the conversation you've created with your key news contacts to create bigger stories. How many news releases have landed you on the cover of a magazine?
8) Picture: Well, they are worth a thousand, but consider how a picture might be used as a teaser for your news. You can photoshop a unique URL into this engaging, visual clue that offers more information. This also allows you to track media interest. If personnel photos were still sent out as prints, you could easily create a cutline for them that would eliminate the need for the accompanying release.
9) Cell Phone/Blackberry: If your reporters use text messaging, you are probably using it to connect with them on important news. The Vatican began doing this in 2003. If your key reporters prefer quick, hand-written notes sent via carrier pigeon, invest in a rooftop coop.
10) Flash Animation: With apologies to Tom Murphy, a flash animation might help announce your company's new CEO. Create a timeline outlining each CEO's tenure and their major accomplishments.
11) Fact Sheet/Backgrounder/Media Kit: Gahran offers up a fact sheet as an alternative to the news release. All this really does is eliminate the painful, contrived quote and our other favorite news release clichés from the raft of poorly-written content choking the wire services each day.
12) Well-Written News Release: The news release is on my list because the 11 ideas above might only work with specific types of news (Have you tapped into poetry to announce financial results?) A news release is versatile enough to announce just about anything. It isn't sexy or groundbreaking. But it can be effective.
At the root of all the drama sparked over this little document is the fact that it is content quality, and not its format, that is the real issue. I read Gahran's blog, Contentious, for the posts that can help improve writing. She is focused on creating better content so I'm not sure why this debate has so much fire and momentum.