Good News, Bad News... It's ALL News
As the preeminent online aviation news resource out there, to say the editorial staff at Aero-News sees a large number of news releases -- and notices of new products -- each day would be a profound understatement; we see hundreds each week, with sources ranging from Boeing's prolific press center... on down to the backyard tinkerer, who has come up with something completely new and innovative for the industry, and shoots us a short email about it.
We look at all of them, and can usually tell whether something merits publishing consideration within reading the first couple of paragraphs. Often, however, a new and innovative product can be overlooked because of the very words written to promote it, by the very people who created it. Those people should be best able to tell others why it's so new and innovative -- but often, the information is... frankly, uninspiring.
Most of the time, a company is its own worst enemy when writing a press release -- either they fail to tell us why their new product is important, they don't properly target the audience they're trying to reach... or, their true achievement is buried under lawyer's jargon, flowery prose... or self-aggrandizing statements that would make Narcissus blush with embarassment.
It is important to remember that a news release is NOT an advertisement -- or, at least, it shouldn't be. News releases are just that... putting your news out into the mainstream, or conveying information to your target audience so they can then make up their own mind. If you want to inspire someone to buy your product... contact ANN about our very reasonable advertising rates. We're happy to help there, too.
Having said that... what is the best way for a company to get its news out?
- First of all, keep your audience in mind when crafting your release. Is it a message for the flying public? If so, which sector do you primarily wish to appeal to? General aviation? Bizav? Military? All have slightly varied -- but very real -- perceptions, opinions and jargon. Know your audience... and write to them.
- Send pictures. That goes for clipart, logos and digital snapshots. "Art" is precious to print media types like us. If you're promoting someone, send a picture! That way, you get your company's logo in the story and the person you're talking about gets his or her picture on the web (not recommended for those who are deeply in debt or wanted by the law).
- Make sure the pictures are relevant to the story.
- Add quotes. Quotes are pictures painted with words. We really like quotes.
- Don't get fancy. When inserting the aforementioned quotes in a story, you don't have to agonize over ten different ways to say "he said." That'll do just fine, actually.
- Always include a web reference. Every story we publish at Aero-News has an "FMI" line. That's a web address or email that readers can use to obtain more information.
- Email submissions work best at ANN. Phone calls are certainly welcome, but emails are much more effective.
- Work in advance. Don't send something to any news organization without as much lead time as possible.
- If you intend your message for the general public -- the average person with no connection to the flying industry, apart from the occasional redeye to New York -- be absolutely SURE your release is free of jargon... or, explain what you mean (example -- does everyone in your target audience know what the initials FAA stand for?) If in doubt, run it past someone with little to no aviation background before sending it out... to see what questions they may have.
- Keep in mind the infamous five "w's" and one "h" when writing your release -- Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Since this is a business, we also add a second "h" to the mix -- How much. Answer those questions, and you've done almost all the heavy work.
- Construct your news release as if you were having a conversation with a member of your target audience. What would you like to tell them first... and how would you say it? Write that "conversation"... really, it IS that simple.
- And speaking of simple... KEEP it simple, and on message. If you have more than one message, write more than one release.
- When sending a release to ANN, send it to email@example.com. If you send it to any other mailbox, it could get delayed.
If you have questions, ask us. Perhaps you've noticed already, but we're very responsive to our readers. When we get your email, we make every effort to reply within 24 hours -- and often reply within six hours. Don't be afraid to drop us a line and ask our advice. After all, this is your publication and you deserve to be in it!
But When Do You Send A News Release?
Whether sharing happy news, or managing a crisis, a news release is one of your most vital tools.
"Happy" News is just that... a new product release, success stories, personnel changes (promotions, new hires, etc.), contract awards, and sales achievements. It's the stuff you WANT to write about... and, not surprisingly, that it's the stuff WE want to write about, too.
But alas, not all news is good news... and it's important to remember that your message is just as vital -- in fact, we'd say even more so -- during bad times, as it is during the good times. Getting your message out to the media shows forthrightness, leadership, and that you are in control of the situation.
Think about it... aviation is an industry that has seen more than its share of setbacks and failures. How many failures have ALL of the most successful aerospace companies out there experienced? Too many to count... and far more than the number of their successes, no matter how memorable those may be.
In bad times, your message might explain a downturn in business, views on a regulatory issue or trend, a mishap involving your product or service, or layoffs... and with each of those, the key is to get the information out there.
Remember that talk of forthrightness and leadership we mentioned above? This is when your company can best show its most admirable qualities. It's easy to appear successful when you're hyping an exciting new product or service -- but admitting your setbacks honestly -- and describing what steps you're going to take to correct them -- shows your true character. It's as true with companies as it is with people.
Above all -- Whether it's good news or bad, a company should not be afraid to put all the relevant information out to the media.