A recent article in PRWeb discusses the survey results fielded from approximately 600 PR professionals regarding the use of news releases.
According to the results, a news release’s primary audience still remains the media at 64% while prospects and customers are at 24%. However, the news release’s delivery method has shifted from just the traditional newswire (11%) to the use of online distribution (15%) and the use of both methods (46.2%). There is increasing interest in driving media and investors to company Web sites where they can have access to more information and develop a better understanding about a company’s technology and prospects. Since the universe of media is also shrinking, PR professionals are utilizing a more targeted approach when pitching a story to journalists.
At Russo Partners we strongly believe in distributing major company news through the traditional newswires and targeted e-mailing. With second tier news we may recommend the use of an online distribution which is more cost effective while reaching the desired audience. We always recommend targeting a selected group of journalists with interest in specific company news.
An editorial in the December 2 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Woloshin S. et al., Vol. 101: 1-3, 2009)caught our eye. In it, the authors described the challenge of “helping journalists get it right.” This refers to the correct reporting of new scientific data that is published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at medical or scientific conferences. The authors highlighted the fact that both fears and hopes of biomedical research are often exaggerated and that results and caveats are often incomplete. Although they do finger reporters as contributors to the problem scientific and medical journals and press releases disclosing new data also take part of the blame.
The Authors propose a number of corrective measures. First, both relative and absolute risks of an intervention should be included. Reporting only on a relative risk, say a 20% reduction, may or may not be meaningful (1% to 0.8% vs. 40% to 32%). Reporters should learn and investigators should provide more about the study, its design, and caveats so that reporters are able to communicate the conclusions as well as the limitations of the study. Reporting should then provide a better context of the study so that readers and better understand its relevance.
At Russo Partners, we specialize in communicating biomedical results for our biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and non-profit research institution clients. We strive to communicate new research findings to our clients’ target audiences. An important component is the complete communication of results in the proper context. Accurate reporting of study results benefits our client companies and better educates their target audiences.
So much of what we do as communications counselors is about cutting back, trimming down, minimizing and cleaning up.
From the beginning of a communications program, we focus on developing the message—how to tell the company story in a way that has impact, and will inspire the target audience to take a positive action. We find that messaging is most powerful when it is short, sweet and to the point. This is because too much information bogs things down, is confusing, and makes it difficult to see what sets your company apart.
This is particularly true with biotech companies because the stories are so rooted in complicated science. In our messaging workshops, we help clients trim away the fat and get down to the nitty gritty—the most important take-away points about their company. Simplifying the story makes it easier for a company spokesperson to share, and for target audiences to understand.
Minimizing is also important is in developing slide decks for corporate and scientific presentations. Many slide decks that we see are very heavy on text—slide after slide of bullet points spelling out everything that the speaker says. Not only is this boring, (we have all sat through a presentation like this!) but it also takes the audience’s attention away from the presenter.
We recommend using pictures, cartoons, graphs or charts to illustrate ideas whenever possible. Not only is this more visually interesting, but it shares the same message in a different medium, making it more memorable. When a visual won’t work, keep words down to the bare minimum, using only a few high-impact words on a slide that reinforce, not match, what the speaker is saying. As a general rule, if the audience could look at a slide deck and get the entire story without the presenter, then the slides are saying too much.
There are many other situations that we can discuss where “less is more” in communications. But since we truly like to adhere to that adage, we will leave it at that for today.