Are the days of the ‘inverted pyramid media release’ over?

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And, how ‘newsful’ is your content?

By Adam Vincenzini

In the world of user-led media, one form of content is always coveted by the recipient more than most.

Surprisingly, it’s not something which always stirs debate.

And, it’s not necessarily ‘breaking’ news.

The holy grail when it comes to social media is news that is useful. Or useful information that is ‘new’.

Or as I’ve coined it for the purposes of today’s post, ‘newsful’ content…let me explain why…

The increasing redundancy of ‘news-only’ content

‘News’, by its very definition and nature, has a finite lifespan.

In today’s media landscape, where ‘sharing’ is so popular, this is even more true.

A classic ‘news-only’ story might pop up on your radar, possibly even trend for a few minutes and then will disappear just as quickly.

Put simply, being memorable in the current ‘news’ environment is incredibly challenging due to the user being totally OVER-EXPOSED to ‘news’ (note: even ‘news’ isn’t necessarily ‘news’ anymore, view article here).

This is why content creators who approach social media in the same way they approach traditional media often fall short of their goals.

However, blending the two, can have the opposite effect and amplify the message…significantly.

This can be achieved through ‘newsful’ content.

The anatomy of ‘newsful’ content

Creating content that is NEW(S) and USEFUL can, and should be, quite basic.

  • ‘Newsful’ content is often characterised by a headline (or element) that includes something along the lines of ’10 ways to do X’ or ‘3 steps to achieve Y’.
  • It arms the recipient with news tools or new methods of doing something.
  • Examples of success / bringing the subject to life is usually a key feature.
  • It should be presented in a fairly timeless manner i.e. if referred to again in 12 months time it’d still be relevant (or ‘updatable’ by the creator so it remains relevant).
  • Video and audio elements generally make the content more useful to the recipient.
  • Additional resources and links should be easily accessible.
  • The format should be digestible / easy-to-scan.
  • Presentation / infographics add a significant degree of ‘usefulness’
  • Ideally, it should also solve a problem.

And importantly, the way the angle is initially shaped to attract attention from the intended recipient / user must be well thought through.

The best way to do this is to blend something newsy / topical into the opening parts of your content, making it your ‘hook’ but not the ‘crux’ – both elements need equal weighting – this is a very different approach to the traditional ‘inverted pyramid methodology’ associated with media releases and PR.

This may not seem like rocket science, because it isn’t, but just creating ‘straight news angles’ will not achieve optimum traction via social platforms.

Your content must not only be interesting but (ideally) it must be USEFUL, HELPFUL and ADD VALUE to the recipient…and be TIMELESS.

If you can do that, you’ve also made your content REUSABLE and RECYCLABLE – in other words, you’ve made sharing it a much more attractive proposition.

So, the next time you create something, ask yourself whether you’ve ticked both the ‘new(s)’ and ‘useful’ boxes – if you have, you stand a better chance of seeing your message(s) appear in more than one place…which is usually pretty nice.

Apart from the questionable term (‘newsful’), do you think this approach has merit / do you adopt it regularly?

Can ‘news-only’ content achieve multi-channel cut through?

What else makes content useful to a user / recipient?

Does a ‘social media release’ cover all this off?

I’d love to know what you think.

Adam

13 Comments

  • Reply April 7, 2010

    Lucy Thorpe

    It really is going to depend on what you aim to do with your content. Do you want to build your part as an expert or simply attract eyeballs ? Do you want to create value for your clients so they come back to you or are you just in it for laughs? A story about a man marrying a goat in the Sudan keeps hitting the top ten viewed stories on the BBC website because it’s funny not because it’s news. See this link..It’s Number 4. http://wp.me/pHqcg-3j

  • Reply April 7, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Lucy
    Thanks for your comment.
    I was actually going to use a flying pig as my example 🙂
    For brands and organisations who we represent, just getting eyeballs isn’t necessarily enough.
    And although the Sudanese goat hubby is a great story, it’s not a PR or brand story – so although there’ll always be a need for ‘news’ the people responsible for creating it, in my opinion, have to do more than just get a giggle – or if they get that giggle, brand / product messages have to be included – this is a decent example of what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb7M_j_bh1Q
    Adam

  • Reply April 7, 2010

    Ben Bush

    Interesting stuff. The challenge for those of us with a traditional B2B PR background is how (and indeed if) this model can be adapted to the kind of bread-and-butter announcements (product launches, appointments etc) that still make up a good proportion of what we release. These stories will surely remain important as long as there are channels (both direct and indirect) for that content to be used. Can they be realistically repurposed every time according to the kind of headline/funnel/style you’re proposing. Probably not. OTOH blindly trying to repackage stories for Twitter feels like a lazy option anyway. Better to think a bit more laterally and come up with something better suited for the social media environment.

  • Reply April 7, 2010

    Natalia Daies

    I agree with Lucy when she says it depends on what you are intending to do with the content. I think that is the most important question when developing or organizing a message that is to be distributed. As a student of PR and someone who is still learning I think being able to adapt the “newsful” anatomy to information would be a great skill to have since the way viewers/consumers receive news has changed so much over time. I know a lot of people, and when I say a lot of people I refer to those professionals who feel as though they have been doing the job for so long that the new way must be wrong, have a hard time accepting the fact it is time to figure out how to make content more attractive in a way that it easier shared and retained. I enjoyed this post. It has me thinking now about how I can create newsful content when I’m working on projects.

  • Reply April 7, 2010

    Our Enchanted Garden

    Adam, thank you. Excellent explanation and very well presented. I totally agree and would suggest to Ben Bush that there’s no need to eliminate their old style promotional layouts etc. but simply use a Newsful design in addition to.

    The Newsful release would obviously include links leading to the more serious side of the business and the sites a repeat customer may be more familiar with. This would position content across a wider audience and that just makes sense to me.

  • Reply April 8, 2010

    Sideways Rain

    As long as there’s traditional media producing content in the traditional format, there’s still a place for the inverted pyramid release. Newsful is definitely the way to go for direct communications…but for now it looks like we still need to push out both formats.

  • Reply April 9, 2010

    Anonymous

    Timeless content to be repeated in 12 months? Sounds like a new form of spam to me. I know this is the extreme, but in the design community there are so many websites with “lists” (example: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/) and you basically get the same “top 10…”, “11 ways to…” LISTS over and over and at the end of the day, the content is nearly worthless, because everyone does it for traffic and it just becomes spam.

    Just insight from a particular community about “lists” run amok.

  • Reply April 9, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Mr / Ms Anonymous
    It would be so much better if you left a name so we could discuss this in more detail, nevertheless…
    Useful information / content isn’t just lists – useful information / contact can be anything that adds value, educates, provides insight into a subject – here are some links to a few posts from this blog from the past I think contain useful content but aren’t lists – what do you think – useful or not?

    http://thecommscorner.blogspot.com/2010/02/anatomy-of-twitter-conversation.html

    http://thecommscorner.blogspot.com/2010/03/review-itunes-spotify-twitter-mflow-aka.html

    http://thecommscorner.blogspot.com/2010/03/review-itunes-spotify-twitter-mflow-aka.html

    Thanks
    Adam

  • Reply April 9, 2010

    destogate

    Hey Adam, Tabish here.

    Just chuckled after the anonymous poster discussion last week on blogchat 🙂

    I find this article very newsful. And the infographic is actually fantastic!

    I just seem to have an issue with the “10 ways” to do this or that approach. sometimes ways or techniques or reasons aren’t relevant. It really limits the content, but further, it limits the message and the way the author may want to position it. After all, even this article doesn’t use that technique. I opine that it is over glorified.

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

  • Reply April 9, 2010

    Anonymous

    Hi,
    I agree and have been working to build an internal employee community. I remind the community owners that we have to shift the view from what we want to say to what people want to know. They also need to create actionable news or as you call it, newsful. To often “news” items are just flat facts or worst, ego pumping, “look at me”, focused.

    While it is a hard message for some, social media communities put the power into the hands of the users. Give us what I want (pushing my stuff out to everyone) and focus on what they need.
    Mike Crocker

  • Reply April 10, 2010

    Tara Parker

    Adam –
    I am a Public Relations student so I am always looking for helpful tips and advice. I thought that your blog post was very informative. I believe it is true that we must present our information in different ways depending on what outlet we use. Social media is the new way of PR in a sense and we have to make sure our information stands out and gets recognized. In order to do that it is very important to know how to present it. I’m definitely not saying that the old way of PR is completely dead, however there is a lot more to learn and know in order to keep up with the new way, social media. I also thought that the way you contrasted the traditional vs. the newsful graphs was very helpful. Thanks for the post.

  • Reply April 11, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Mike – you are right, it is all about the user, and their needs – collectively and individually. People shape output more than ever before…which although a major shift for some, will be a great result for all in the long run.
    Adam

  • Reply June 17, 2010

    Peter Rochman

    Hi Adam,

    This post was great – especially if you're dealing day-to-day in a convoluted business approval setting where you are always trying to be innovative while getting your copy approved and then picked up and read by others. It just comes down to the fact that people are busy these days and don't want to invest time in non-productive things. As a long-time reporter and

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