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Friday, July 30, 2010

News Releases, Social Media Discussed in “Changing Media Landscape” Conference

The College Media Conference (also fondly known as the former Keith Moore conference) was held in Baltimore last month.  Once again the organizers delivered a great program, with journalists from 15 media outlets sharing their insights, requests and critiques.  Panels of higher education professionals shared best practices on focused topics, and all attendees shared their experiences during breaks, meals and social activities.  Even the Orioles cooperated, with a rare win this year at Camden Yards. 

It’s always great to meet again with friends: Jennifer Donovan of Michigan Tech and Zakira Beasley of Newswise sharing a moment. 

My focus was to listen for comments about news releases, given that this is our delivery vehicle.  I was surprised to hear the basics repeated again, as in previous years: clean and concise press releases, write the subject in the headline and lead, local exposure leads to national exposure, and my favorite, don’t spam the news room.  This year I heard more emphasis on visuals: embedding images and multimedia (Chad Lorenz of and “The best news releases have visuals” from ABC news producer Mary Bruce.  Maria Embrahimji of CNN emphasized diversity, which we know can be quickly demonstrated with images and video.

Social media was also a major topic, with the discussion less about whether to participate, but how and why.  Some expressed their thoughts about the challenge to relinquish control when it comes to social media.  Vige Barrie of Hamilton College shared a poignant insight about the social media; she said, “the democratization of media occurs through participation.” This concept resonated nicely with some current projects at Newswise, including the imminent launch of a new social media feature that will give users the ability to comment on news releases.  Many of our clients have expressed enthusiasm for this new feature, and we’re keen to hear from our readers and participate in the discussions.

I’ve enjoyed attending these conferences the past four years, and look forward to more opportunities to network and learn.  How about you, do you have a favorite communications professionals conference or gathering of media relations folks? Is it face to face, or virtual?  Any highlights you’d like to share?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by Zakira Beasley on 07/30/10 at 10:03 AM


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