In a release from the Government of Canada, their press office announces that they are “retiring the traditional news release format in favour of a more digital-friendly product that makes the key messages of announcements clearer, quick facts more accessible and integrates more effectively with social media channels.” The Canadian flacks promise that the new format will provide “Two or three paragraphs of short, crisp text will allow [media & stakeholders] to scan quickly for the key messages of the announcement.”
An example of this new format can be seen here.
First off, I don’t think that this is earth-shattering by any means. Communicators should have learned to craft easily digestible, digitally optimized and shareable NRs long ago. I do think, however, that this is a particularly good example to follow for those who haven’t. Maybe even a benchmark.
I really like what the Canadian Gov.’s press office has done here. They’ve made the news release more reader friendly and maybe more importantly, they’ve made it easier for members of the media to do their jobs. By boiling down the release and eliminating all the unnecessary language and superfluous inserts, they’ve created something that the reader can digest in a under a couple of minutes. The headline, news, key facts, quotes and related links are called out separately and bulleted, giving us everything we need in as clear and concise a way as possible.
This format is also more effective for internal use. As noted in the article, the way it’s drafted makes it easier for those manning the social profiles to create Tweets and posts from the NR. No longer do your comms. folks need to comb through a dense few pages of prose to determine what should end up going out on your social channels. Half of the work has already been done!
I get annoyed, selfishly maybe, when folks argue that the written word is dying, citing things like trends in visualization and character constraints on social profiles. Seeing something like what the Canadian Government’s office has done gives me hope. The written word is far from dead – it simply needs to be adapted to a more concise, direct format. To the ignorant, this may seem as a sign that the wordsmith will go the way of the Dodo. I say that’s far from the truth! It’s easy to string a bunch of long-winded words together and trick the reader into believing you are an authority on something. The challenge, and where the skill really lies, is writing effectively in a condensed format.
What do you think? How does this change the PR game?