writing in the digital age… an ongoing look
December 4, 2012
→If you’ve gotten a little too link happy in your electronic communication, you’re not alone. Directing your intended reader to supporting content outside the scope of your document or e-mail is an efficient use of word count and storytelling. The trick is to do it in a way that keeps readers’ attention on your key message rather than wandering around the web. It’s a safe bet that your email recipients aren’t likely to fault you for laying it on a little thick, especially if those links provide them with relevant, engaging details that would have been hard to recap otherwise. When it comes to press releases though, too many links can doom your thoughtfully crafted message to the spam underworld.
We all know that “multimedia” is the buzz word attached to the modern-day press release. And for good reason: Multimedia content is more engaging, adding a layer of depth otherwise hard to reach when trying to be brief, and allows reporters/editors to look at a potential story idea from several angles. Multimedia releases also tend to have greater value among search engines than their text-only counterparts. Linking is just one means of beefing up your message; images, infographs, videos, audio offer additional perspective and are easily accommodated by most distribution services. (Each service has their own fees attached, but most allow you to include anchor text links for free.)
But before you get on the multimedia bandwagon, you need to hone your skills as a news identifier and storyteller. Whether you’re reaching out to press or other influential sources, you’ve got to understand what is important about your message. Because if you don’t, your audience won’t either. The first thing a reporter/editor is going to ask, is “why should I care about this?”
Playing around in Storify is a great way to test out your ability to tell a solid story using both text and multimedia. It’s a little daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll take away relevant skills for creating engaging press releases. When you finally get to polishing up that press release, keep in mind that nothing replaces good stories and strong news hooks, and substance ALWAYS outweighs style.
Finding a balance between flash and facts starts with strong writing and reporting skills, and a knack for storytelling. Knowing how to optimize content, via links or multimedia files, is secondary. Mastering both is vital—not just for those penning press releases, but for all contemporary writers.