Text-only press releases won’t get you too far in today’s newsrooms, according to a panel of journalists at Capitol Communicator’s Convergence in Communications Conference, held March 6.

“I still get information from email, but what will we do with just the words in an email?” asked Bloomberg’s John Hughes. “The content needs to go onto the web, so you need to think in advance how we’re going to tell the story.”

That means PR pros need to provide links to content such as short videos, graphics and images to reach an audience that expects more than words.

Rob Terry, managing editor of the Washington Business Journal, agreed, saying that since the news organization went “digital first,” his reporters cannot submit a print story for the web. They have to consider ways the news will be presented and submit content appropriate to the platform, with links and images easily viewed via a smart phone.

All panelists praised Twitter as the “front line” for news gathering, so PR pros were encouraged to post there first and then follow or link to additional content. “Twitter is where we start,” said WTOP’s Director of Digital Media John Meyer. “It has jumped ahead of the wire services to at least let us get a sniff of a story before we hunt it down.”

We want to link to content, such as a short video clip or graphic to help tell the story, according to Hughes: “We try to be as simple as possible, so boil down your story to the simplest point and consider what the biggest benefit is to my audience.”

Chris Gentilviso, former politics editor of the Huffington Post, noted that, at one point, he had almost 1,000 unread emails in his in-box. “DM instead,” he said, referring to Twitter’s direct messaging tool, and tailor your content for each reporter or outlet.

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