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Meeting Recap: Thinking Outside of the News ReleaseMandy B. Fernandez - February 2018

What are the benefits to blogging or communicating in other formats besides just a typical press release? FPRA Pensacola Chapter asked this question and more to a panel of local experts that included DC Reeves, former journalist and owner of Perfect Plain Brewing Co.; Lindsey Steck, marketing associate for Visit Pensacola; Andy Marlette, cartoonist for the Pensacola News Journal; and Phil Nickinson, editor and content creator. Each panelist shared his or her experiences and helpful tips.

Here are a few highlights:

Why is it important to blog or share stories beyond the press release?

  • To share local experiences.
  • To share a pure voice that can be heard through the news noise.
  • To lend multiple voices to a company or organization.
  • To offer information in a concise, accessible, easy to digest format.
  • To engage the audience with real stories from real people.
  • To humanize the company.
  • To give customers the information that they need when they need it.
  • To start a conversation and cause a reaction and action when appropriate.

When should we be concerned with sharing an opinion?

  • Don’t be afraid to have and share an opinion.
  • Opinions show earnestness and human nature.
  • Share different opinions and voices when you can.
  • You can’t be afraid to tell a story just because it may make someone angry.
  • Share an opinion through images and metaphors – this raises the level of conversation and it’s powerful.
  • From a business manager or owner standpoint, make sure employees know the policy on social media and sharing opinions, however. There is no such thing as a “personal account” anymore. An individual should be careful in what is posted and shared and how it can affect a company / organization. Have continual conversations with teams to ensure they understand and know the risks involved.

How can your stories be heard and spread so others see and hear them, besides on an internal/external company or organization’s website or blog? 

  • Go the extra mile to work with local businesses, partners and people who you can build relationships with and help.
  • Don’t just call publishers, editors and news people when you need something from them. Build a real relationship with them and maintain that relationship year round.

What are some other tips you can offer PR professionals, writers and content creators?

  • Use social media but don’t try to focus all your efforts on every type. Pick two that work well with your audience and do those well before venturing out into others.
  • Connect with the community and be willing to share bad news and even mistakes at times.
  • Look for inspiring stories to share within your organization – even just a regular employee who deserves recognition can be worth sharing.
  • Let others contribute and provide feedback to your writing. Include different writers when you can and if appropriate to lend to different voices and perspectives.
  • Plan your content. This is critical to the success of your writing and platforms. You have to produce content and do it consistently or you’ll lose people and waste efforts.
  • Track your success. Look at the data through Google Analytics or other tracking programs. See what’s being read, looked at and liked and learn from it. Use a tool to analyze the information you’re sharing.
  • Know your audience and cater the messages to them.
  • Develop partners and obtain feedback from those partners.
  • Use bullet points. Be short and concise when you can. Shorter writing is better than longer writing.
  • Send your writing to a trusted editor or friend to gauge interest, grammar and proper tone.

Thanks to our panelists for the information shared. How will you implement some of these takeaways and tools into your business or organization? 

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FPRA Pensacola also welcomed FPRA State President Ryan Gerds, APR, CPRC, as a special guest at our February chapter meeting. Ryan spoke to members and guests about the activities of the association and opportunities for members. Ryan is pictured here (back row, center) with members of the Pensacola Chapter Board and state board.