We’ve spent some time in previous blog posts discussing several aspects of the press release as a powerful marketing tool. This includes explaining how to write an effective release and the many ways to effectively put it to use. With that background, we can spend some time talking about the best ways to get the maximum possible distribution and visibility for your news items. One of the key points to remember is the term press release is something of a misnomer today. Used properly, a PR will achieve much more than simply sending an update to the press corps. Don’t pigeonhole its use to that one function. As a reminder of the uses we’ve discussed, well-prepared releases will:
Of course, there is the chance that you will, in fact, get picked up by a media reporter and get press coverage in digital or print media. That is a great plus, but it is not necessary to justify the investment of time and effort in keeping a steady flow of quality press releases coming from your company.
It is interesting to note one reason social media is so popular is that it promotes a two-way conversation. Instead of simply spewing out a marketing message, social media supports this concept of a conversation, referred to as inbound marketing As you develop an internal attitude focused on keeping that two-way communications going, it supports the idea of your press releases being a way to talk to your contacts. Each of your team members can make a contribution by constantly asking, “Who would like to know about this new (product, capability, service, development, staff member, and so forth)? If they think a customer or the rest of the team would be impressed with the news, it’s probably worthy of taking the time to get the word out.
Achieving the best results for your press releases involves two separate efforts. The first is straightforward, the development of an active email list dedicated to distributing your releases. If you use an email service, you can simply add a category to your contacts database. This should include all the press outlets in your industry, local chambers of commerce, your primary customers and all other opt-ins. Over time, you should be able to add a number of actual media contacts and other key sources. Note that most media outlets solicit such news and you don’t have to have an opt-in for them. You can also add an opt-in on your contacts pages specifically focused on press releases. Using a line such as “To keep in touch with our latest news and press releases, enter your email address here” is a good addition to your website and social media pages. This will get entries from press and other individuals who might not otherwise provide an email address for sales or other communications. It also conveys a certain level of professionalism to indicate you send out such releases. Of course, your competition will sign up, but you should follow them just as closely. The second level of effort involves the physical and digital distribution of your press releases. We’ve noted how even in this digital world there are many uses for an attractively printed press release. Keep some in the lobby if you have one. Put the latest and greatest in your general marketing folders. Also, post the newest in employee break rooms and meeting areas (make sure they’re put up in a professional manner). You may also develop a list of key customers and press contacts that are worth an occasional physical mailing. For instance, if you’re announcing a new product and it lends itself to the idea (affordable, small, etc.) spend the time to attractively package a sample with the printed press release and have a sales rep deliver it or mail it. For digital distribution, the first step is, of course, use of one or more of the digital press release firms we discussed earlier. We touched on the fact that there are both free and paid services. We’ve found it worthwhile to invest the small amount necessary to use a paid service, mainly because of their reputation and the analytics they provide. However, using the right free service will get considerable coverage. As your actual press release is submitted and released, send out a copy to your in-house PR list. The next step which is easy to accomplish is uploading the digital version of the printed press release (with your unique design and headers) to your website and social pages. Ensure there are hyperlinks at all the contact points and key elements of information. For example, if you’re announcing a new service, link back to the detail on your website. Once these are up, send out a tweet, Facebook post, LinkedIn message, and any other type of social media notification. The next few steps are somewhat dependent on your company size and resources. Ideally, you have someone who is focused on your social media and has completed the above steps. You should then have a list of blogs and forums that you continually follow and post to. These include blogs in your industry, user groups, trade associations, etc. You or your designated person will then visit these blogs, make a brief comment about the news you’re announcing, and insert a link to the press release on your website. While this is underway, encourage your other team members to use the press release as another incentive to communicate. Your sales people can call prospects and customers, your HR department may want to communicate with key prospects, your financial people bankers and investors, and your purchasing people should update your key vendors, especially with particularly important news. Not every press release will be appropriate for each contact. You’ll be surprised, however, by how many people appreciate the effort and how effective this form of marketing is in generating additional traffic and website visits. In future posts we’ll provide you with some examples of killer press releases and how they were used to achieve specific marketing objectives.