Most small-to-medium sized businesses don’t think much about press and publicity. They operate under the belief that it’s for larger businesses. The truth is that larger businesses would never have gotten where they are if they hadn’t had press and publicity when they were smaller.
The web has changed the rules and now you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to benefit from press and publicity. In fact, a few strategic steps can allow you to enjoy two major benefits from one well-crafted press release.
The Evolution of the Press Release
In the days before the Internet was in every household, a press release was produced when a company had a major announcement such as the opening of a new location or a new product offering. The news release was crafted using industry jargon and sent to a handful of reporters and editors who were already well versed in the industry because they covered the niche market. Due to the familiarity of the topic on the part of the journalist, very little background information was needed. Reporters scanned the press releases thinking, “What’s the news?” Then finding a statement like, “ABC Company just released a high-tech gizmo with new scalable architecture” they quickly understood the purpose and could assess whether or not the news was actually “news worthy.”
Foundational Change of Purpose
The web has now changed the purpose of the news release. This is because instead of faxing or mailing press releases to a handful of interested reporters and editors, press releases are now submitted via distribution services such as PRWeb, PR Newswire, or Business Wire. This means that news releases are now distributed literally all over the web and picked up by search engines. This means that press releases are not only read by reporters and editors, they are now being read directly by your buyers!
Two Benefits From One Press Release
- Your press release may strike the interest of a news organization or trade magazine and the resulting article or newscast can be great publicity.
- Your buyers have access to your releases which gives you yet another method of reaching out to them.
So, What Is “News?”
The old rule of thumb that dictated when you submitted a press release is that you should wait until you had big news to share. The new rules is, basically, don’t wait! Don’t wait until big news is happening; submit press releases on a regular basis. In fact, it is recommended that you include press release creation and distribution as a regular part of your editorial calendar. You might be wondering now about what you would write about if you don’t have a major announcement. Here are a few ideas:
- Your company won an award.
- You added a new product feature.
- You have interesting information to share.
- You have a new take on an old problem.
- You have something interesting to add to a currently trending topic in the news.
Crafting Your Press Release
Now that your news releases are being read by media personnel and your buyers, it is more important than ever to craft the message to demonstrate how your news can solve a problem. You can no longer use industry jargon expecting readers to be able to understand it and immediately apply it to their lives. Write it from the end users perspective. Put enough background detail so that they understand who you are and how you can help them, but not too much so that they get bored. Get to the heart of the press release as soon as you can and make it compelling enough so that they want to click through to your website to learn more about you.
Press Releases for the Journalists
Here are a few basic rules for pitching your press releases to journalists:
- Before you pitch, read the publication or watch the TV show you’ll be pitching to.
- Once you determine that the publication or TV show is appropriate, research to find the best reporter, editor, etc. to send the release to.
- Once you identify the reporter, craft an individualized pitch letter.
- Do not send attachments in an email unless you are specifically asked, it will be deleted. Put the press release and pitch letter in the body of the email.
- Don’t tell the journalist what your product is or what event you are holding. Tell them how the product or event will solve customer’s problems or connect it to a trending topic in the news.
- News releases sent to reporters in subject areas they do not cover are considered spam and will be deleted.
- Non-targeted, broadcast pitches are considered spam and will be deleted.
- If a reporter contacts you, respond immediately. If you don’t, they will move on to the next available subject matter expert.
Press Releases for Buyers
- Write press releases with keyword rich copy.
- Place links in your releases that take customers to landing pages or your website.
- Don’t just send news releases when big news is happening; find good reasons to send them all of the time.
- Optimize news releases so they can be found in search engines.
- Add social media tags.
- Drive people into the sales process with news releases.
Press Releases Are Critical Marketing Tools
If done well, press releases can be one of your most effective online and direct marketing tools at your disposal. Just remember, this isn’t your grandfather’s press release. The advent of the web has caused the purpose of the press release to do a major shift and you should shift right along with it.