If you’re interested in content and you’re not a member already, I’d recommend joining the Content Strategy Google group. Many well-known (in content terms, at least!) names pop up regularly on there, contributing to a range of interesting discussions.
One such person is Ginny Redish, who recently responded to a query on online media centres or press offices with some best practice guidelines for press officers ‘who come from print’. I thought this was worth sharing.
Seven guidelines for online press releases
1. Make the headline a statement that gives the key message. Think ‘bite, snack, meal’ — a concept from Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O’Flahavan. The headline is the bite.
2. Make the first few sentences the snack — just a bit of elaboration of the key message.
3. Break up the piece with informative headings. Think of headings as key message bites to the next bit of information.
4. Keep paragraphs very short. What looks fine in print is often too long for online. A one sentence paragraph is fine.
5. Add links — to whatever else on the site are good follow-up places. You want to keep people on the site.
6. Name a contact person — and include that person’s title. Many people will get to the press release who do not know the way press releases work. They may think the person who is named is the researcher and not realise it is a press office person.
7. Date the press release — and remember that whatever you put online lives forever on the site (unless your content strategy includes a plan for taking these down).
Ginny’s the author of Letting go of the words — Writing web content that works (now added to my Amazon wish list!), which contains a section with more guidance on this topic. Do you have any other tips for online media centres?