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Online news advice

The world of online news is one which is developing almost as quickly as the internet itself. Many people and organisations still don’t fully understand what people want in terms of news from the web, writes Andrew Howard of Lakeside Media public relations.

If you’re a firm with your own website, here are some of my tips:

1: Just because you’re not an online news organisation does not exempt you from media law. If we’re all publishers now, then we’re all subject to publishing rules. Make sure you understand libel and defamation, the Contempt of Court Act, the Children and Young Persons Act and so much more. Perhaps seek the advice of an expert…

2: The web, even more than print, thrives on pictures. So if you have 30 different pictures from an event, put up as many as you can in a slideshow. The more the merrier, and no newspaper will really print that many pictures from one job, unless it’s the Olympics!

3: Remember SEO - search engine optimisation. Or, how to make your website more attractive to, let’s face it, Google. Use the right expressions in your text, and caption pictures appropriately. Again, an expert is probably required on this point.

4: News organisations aren’t generally making as much money from the web as they do from print. So they’d probably rather people buy papers than consume all their output online. If you’re tweeting about a story printed about your organisation, why not say something like: “Great story in the paper about us on Page 7 today! Buy a copy yourself to read all about it!”

5: Is breaking news really breaking news? On Twitter, practically every story on BBCNews seems to be breaking news. It may well be, but is your latest story really breaking news? Be realistic: try latest news for a change!

6: Even if you’re preparing a press release for the print media, remember it will probably have an associated website, so include your own relevant web links where appropriate. If you have web-only content, why not share that with other websites too? They’ll more than likely be grateful for any extra content which can enrich their site.

7: People ‘consume’ news differently depending on the medium they’re using, so consider shorter, punchier stories for your website, and a print medium for longer, in-depth pieces.

8: Oddly, perhaps, physical news can get discarded and forgotten, whereas virtual news is there practically forever. Remember that anything, once posted, can probably be recovered by someone even if it’s removed from your website. Think twice, then think again, before pressing Publish.

9: If you’re thinking of targeting a press release at the local paper, it may be best not to publish the story on your own website first - no one likes being scooped. If it does get published by the paper, think about make the most of it by linking to the story on your own website. But consider Point 4 too.

10: Shout about your successes - try to get as many people as possible to see your news by having a proper policy integrating your website, Twitter, Facebook, print and more.

For more advice on online news, contact Lakeside Media public relations of Exeter by clicking here.