Content written by Rodney Alsup and published by The MBA News Digest.
Positive publicity often starts with a press release. For most program directors, hearing or reading the words “press release” conjures up mental images that are mostly negative. My goal with this article and the two that follow is to change those mental images from negative to positive.
I want to start with the purposes of a press release. Yes, I said purposes. Most people, when hearing the words “press release,” think of a single purpose–a one-page document designed to let the media know of an event hoping to entice a reporter to write a story covering the event. This myopic view limits both what is a potential press release topic and its use.
I developed an expanded view of press releases several years ago. Today, I see a press release serving any or all of the following four purposes.
- Share Information–Media outlets often share information about a local event that may be of local community interest. An example is an announcement inviting the local community to attend a special event. A local newspaper might include the event in the community calendar section of the paper, referencing event name, date, time and place.
- Invite Media Coverage–Media outlets often use press releases as a basis for assigning reporters to write news articles. Most times, press releases are useful in connecting a reporter with someone that can offer more information for a more in-depth story. An example is the announcement of a new dean. The press release announces the new dean’s appointment and a local reporter connects with the new dean for an interview and then writes an article about the new dean based on the interview.
- Promote–Writing and posting a press release on the internet via a program’s “news room,” blog, Twitter, etc. provides visibility and perhaps indirectly promotes the program. Moreover, such posting and sharing gives followers an opportunity to share the information with their network.
- Recognize–Faculty and staff often do things that deserve recognition – get promoted, publish an article, speak at a professional meeting or to a local group, etc. A press release is a useful way to acknowledge the individual and to document and share what they did.
- Chronicle Events or Activities–Documenting what a program does during the year via news releases can help with accreditation reviews, orientations, preparation of presentations, etc.
This expanded view also changes what one thinks are worthy subjects for a press release. Rather than just big events or activities, worthy subjects can include any of the following: major course revision, new course offering, new faculty member teaching in MBA program, new program director, faculty member publishes an article, and much more.
Perhaps a name change would help with the change in mindset. What if we referred to “press releases” as “news releases?” Do you think that would help?
Next week, I will tackle the logistics of writing a news release. There are ways to simplify news release writing that may be of interest.
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