Remember print deadlines? They were those immovable feasts that dictated the best time to send out a press release. They were subject to a number of variables; did you want your press release to make the front page, was it more of an ‘inside’ piece, or were you trying to meet the personal deadline of a ‘favourite’ contact who wanted to be out at the pub by noon every day?
By Gill Gwatkin
When I edited our weekly local newspaper, we tried to have all the inside pages done – or as near as dammit – by 7pm on a Friday, leaving page 1 (of course) and prime news pages like 3, 5 still up for grabs for ‘late’ news.
With digital and social media, it isn’t so simple now. Stories often (but not always) go straight online, and with declining print media and newspaper sales, is it worthwhile gearing news releases to ‘traditional’ media deadlines, or just focus on your online audiences?
Broadcast and print media are still very important elements of our local news mix, but it’s difficult to get clarification from journalists. A reporter can be confident that a story with real local interest that you have given them is strong enough to make tomorrow’s page 1, but find it suddenly ousted by standard clickbait involving a celebrity endorsement of a local attraction, a new listing or rating from a PR agency (given a local ‘nose’), or a photo story that links to an online video.
Is there a point any longer in pitching exclusives, only to find them ousted in favour of something more frivolous, missing a good opportunity to gain wider coverage?
I guess this is where good judgement comes in – a knowledge of your local media, how they work and how your main audiences consume news.
In Wirral Council’s press office, we’ve moved away from sharing news to sharing content, including video, animation, and infographics. We’re investigating different ways of reaching our audiences, even, (and here’s a revolutionary idea!), going back to the good old ‘council newspaper’ to get our messages across. All just ideas that we’re talking about at the moment, but we’d be really interested to hear how your press office is adapting to such changing times.
We feel we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of changes to the way people share and consume news; every day, we are conscious that we are adapting and rethinking how we worked before. The old rules no longer apply and we are throwing out the rule book and devising our own.
How are you getting on?
Gill Gwatkin is Press Office Manager at Wirral Council
image via Flickr creative commons