“Breaking” news announcements in a digital age

“Breaking” news announcements in a digital age

Kari Owers, owner of creative communications agency O PR, takes us through the evolving approach to breaking news in the digital age…

Social media might make it trickier to keep a lid on a hard news story, but it’s not impossible to keep a big announcement under wraps for massive impact.

Over the years the team at O have been behind some of the North East’s biggest news stories - from launching a new radio station to announcing high profile company mergers creating market-leading global businesses.

Press calls used to be a very straightforward affair. You’d invite the media at a given time, they’d turn up and take their turn to interview the spokespeople, recording on camera, taking notes or via dictaphone.

Nowadays, news stories and announcements are broken by Facebook Live, Twitter and Instagram Stories - even by the media themselves simply by use of a smartphone camera.

This means that planning a media announcement has significantly changed, and anyone wanting to really make a big impact with their story needs to think digital first.

Here are O’s top tips on planning a big announcement in 2017:

1.    Prepare – think beyond the press release            

We never just write a press release. We prepare content packages of various pieces of copy - from the hard news announcement to SEO-friendly content like listicles and FAQs – accompanied with a bundle of images suitable for social media and of course, plenty of video.

2.    Use an embargo

Everything has to be kept under wraps when you are breaking a big story, so the old-fashioned embargo is applied to the social media team as well as those working with traditional press.

3.    Think ‘social’ first

Think about social media as your breaking channel and give the media something to share ‘live’ at launch such as an unveiling, a straightforward short speech or preferably something incredibly visual they can use as live content.

4.    Make time

Mainstream media will want TV and radio interviews and press photographs, but most journalists will also be tasked to get web content too so expect to do smartphone interviews and pics for instant digital coverage.

5.    Harness social shares    

Most media will be happy to share their content on their own channels, so make it easy for them to share visual content on social as soon as you have announced. Give them photos, graphics and video as soon as possible at launch and make sure they know your hashtags and handles to tag you in.

6.    Incorporate Digital Influencers 

Think about the people who have the greatest reach on social media and invite them to share your announcement. These can be bloggers, celebrities, partners and communities.