The Government of Canada is retiring the traditional press release format in favour of a more digital-friendly product that makes the key messages of announcements clearer, quick facts more accessible and integrates more effectively with social media channels, writes Kim McKinnon of the Canadian Government’s Communications Community Office.

The old style release – which hasn’t changed in over 50 years – disappeared on 31 December 2013.  Gone with it are the dense blocks of text that make it hard to read, the use of long titles in headlines and leads and the use of complex jargon.

Instead, both the media and stakeholders will get a fresh approach from Canadian Government departments and agencies. Two or three paragraphs of short, crisp text will allow them to scan quickly for the key messages of the announcement. The new format also offers quick access to key facts and additional resources.

For communicators, the changes mean they can use their creativity to:

  • develop catchy headlines and sub-headlines
  • write concise and clear opening paragraphs that contain the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, why)
  • select key facts that capture the reader’s attention
  • draft quotes that are meaningful and succinct
  • repurpose the quick facts and quotes for Facebook and Twitter posts, and
  • offer associated links that provide additional context to help the reader better understand the issue

You can view an example of the new-look release on the topic of Anniversary of North American Free Trade Agreement.

Given the ongoing debate within the GCS about the future of the press release, what do UK government communicators think of the format?

All Government of Canada news releases can be found on the brand new Canada.ca site  (any similarity of GOV.UK is entirely intentional!).

Blog post from Kim McKinnon, Communications Community Office | Bureau de la collectivité des communications

Image used under Creative Commons license from Mike Haw

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