Are you spending too much time getting out even the simplest news release? Wasting your time waiting for input or feedback, taking into account everyone’s remarks, making sure the legal department doesn’t kill your news, getting and sharing all assets (visuals, movies, product shots, …).
If this all sounds familiar to you, well... I hate to break it to you but your news release workflow is seriously broken:
- You’re wasting time and money waiting for feedback
- You spend more time discussing the edits than you did writing the release
- You will spend an absurd about of time making or undoing edits
- The end results is often worse than your initial draft: internally everyone is probably happy, but it became unusable or uninteresting for journalists.
How can you improve this news release workflow nightmare?
1. Create a one paragraph strategy note
Get everyone on the same line before you start writing, this will help you in later stages of the process. A strategy note needs to answer 2 questions:
- What is the goal of this news release?
- What's our strategy for reaching that goal?
2. Start by collecting all necessary assets
Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for media assets. Do it as soon as you have a rough idea of what could help increase the impact of the release. If you do wait, chances are you're not getting them in time and you are forced to send without these valuable assets.
3. Make the process transparent
If everyone knows what you're working on they can follow up closely. That's where a project management tool comes in handy, it allows people to follow up what you have been doing.
Trello is a very easy to use project management tool. Use it to create boards that you update with ToDos. These ToDo cards contain the latest information and updates on your progress. A card moves from list to list depending on its progress (from ToDo list to Doing list to Done list). Everyone involved can subscribe to updates on the progress.
4. Assign tasks and set deadlines
All stakeholders will feel the social pressure because of the transparent deadlines.
5. Manage feedback
Email is toxic to give feedback: it’s very difficult to make edits based on 3 different feedback messages from 3 different stakeholders. An alternative is to let everyone work in real-time on the same version. Google Drive is an excellent (and free) solution for that. Depending on how you like to work, you can give stakeholders the option to start editing the text or to be able to add comments to your text. If there are too many stakeholders, you may not want them messing around with the copy.
6. Create a release candidate version of your news release
A release candidate is a term from software development. It marks a version of the software that is ready for release. The copy is final, it's formatted and assets are included.
Your team can give feedback on the release candidate until a certain moment. A release candidate is almost final, so changes are probably minor details. If anyone wants to completely change things around: 1. you use the strategy note (which they signed off) to convince them not to 2. you need to delay the deadline.
If you're going to publish the release to an online newsroom, make sure to get everything on there well before the deadline. Everyone needs to have seen the web version of your release. If you're using a software solution like Prezly to publish your news releases online, you can set everything up and send over a private link to all stakeholders before you publish.
Stop wasting time
Think about how you could improve your press release workflow. There are many collaboration tools that will help you save time and money. An optimised workflow will also improve the newsworthiness and usability of your news release.