If you thought press releases were just for pitching the media, think again.
With the advent of the Internet, the old-fashioned press release has usefulness beyond simply getting media attention. There are three other reasons you should consider.
1. Search Engine Optimization
It’s a well established fact that most people begin their research of companies, products and services by using search engines, mainly Google. A press release published on your website that’s written with search engines in mind (i.e. keyword-optimized) can help improve your returns. (Bizzuka has a press release component built into our CMS to make this task easier.)
2. Social Media Outreach
There is no reason you shouldn’t use social media as a channel for press release syndication. The value in doing so is that it puts your content where people gather, making it easier to find and easy to share.
Here are some suggestions for how to go about it:
Submit releases to social networks where you maintain a presence. Include a link back to your site in order to drive traffic.
Use social media release services. In addition to the services already mentioned, one that is especially designed for use with social media is Pitch Engine.
Incorporate multi-media in the form of video, audio, images and Powerpoint slide decks. Thanks to sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr, social media has become highly visual in orientation. Adding these elements can increase the probability that people will share the content more than if it’s just text.
3. Direct to the Consumer
Best-selling author David Meerman Scott says that we are no longer beholden to media gatekeepers. Thanks to syndication via Google News, Yahoo! News, search engines, blogs and RSS feeds, content can now go directly to the audiences we want to reach with our message.
Some Advice About Pitching the Media
By presenting this options, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m anti-traditional media. To the contrary, there is great value in paying homage to members of local and trade press outlets.
Here are four tips for reaching out to media sources:
1. Keep a short list of preferred media contacts. This should include local and regional newspaper and business publications, as well as industry-related trade pubs.
It’s also a good idea to compile a list of the leading bloggers in your industry and include them in releases. However, bloggers can be a persnickety bunch sometimes, so you often have to go the extra mile to curry their favor.
2. Personalize your pitch. Don’t send releases via a mass email, especially one using BCC. If you have a hand-selected list of outlets, send releases to each one individually, along with a personal note. Media people get pitched constantly, so ensure yours stands out. A personal note is a good way to aid your cause.
3. Follow up with a phone call. I was once a part of a technology start up that hired a public relations firm to help get trade journalists interested in our product. I was impressed with the fact that, in addition to the personal approach taken by the firm, every journalist received a phone call soon after an email was sent.
4. Build relationships with members of the media. Take time to get to know the journalists and bloggers on your list more personally. That could include connecting with them on social networks (journalists love Twitter). Make it a point to read, share and comment on their content.
Strategic communications consultant, Amy Stanton-Hagerstrom, says that the most important rule is to know your audience. “Your news release is a vehicle to tell a story, so make sure you write a compelling headline and summary lead that will capture reporters’ attention while delivering the facts. If you know your audience (your reporters), you will know how to write a release that makes their job easy by delivering relevant, concrete information that will appeal to their readers and good, meaningful quotes,” she states.
If pitching bloggers is on your agenda, make sure you become intimately familiar with the topics they cover. Don’t send a release to a blogger who does not specifically write about your industry. (Like I said, bloggers can be persnickety!)
Bottom line: Journalists are people too, so treat them with respect.
My aim in this post is to expand your thinking about ways to use a press release other than how it’s been done in the past.
Utilizing search engines, social media and going direct to the consumer are my top picks, but you may some ideas of your own. If so, leave a comment. If you’re a member of the media, please feel free to share your thoughts as well.
PS: If you’re challenged about how to write good press releases, PRWeb offers a resource that can help.