Press releases have traditionally been used to alert print media such as newspapers, magazines, and the like of new story ideas. But print media outlets are losing ground in a world of web-based news. So press releases must be on the way out too, right?
Not quite. Even though the reasoning above seems logical, many marketers still swear by the press release to break news… both online and off.
There are two kinds of press releases: the first conveys information about new company developments and is objectively newsworthy, the second recasts existing information in a new light to function as marketing material. For both kinds, the question remains: what exactly do you do with a press release these days?
Below are four places to put a press release and tips make sure you’re using each type correctly to achieve the best results.
1. Your Website
Every press release you write belongs on your site, be it newsworthy or not. Consider adding a tab for press releases on your “About Us” page or an equivalent section. Not only does an archive of press releases provide a timeline that helps visitors see how your company has grown, it also functions as original content that can help improve SEO.
You can even use press releases on your website to announce creative marketing campaigns. Consider making a video in which someone demonstrates new software features, or launch a webinar that shows how your software’s intuitive interface helps streamline usage. Either way, the info — be it hot off the press or something reheated — belongs on your web site.
2. Your Emails
When deciding whether to send a press release via email, make sure to differentiate what you send your existing customers from what you send to your prospective customers.
Existing customers should only receive newsworthy information. Sending them timely updates about your company may encourage them to upgrade to a more robust software package if you offer tiered licensing plans. Similarly, emailing press releases about new features and functionality can keep them abreast of impending updates that they can expect to see in their hosted software solution. The best way to email press releases to existing customers is to customize the email message, and then, within the body of the email, include a link to the online press release. Even better- if you’ve already received coverage from third party media outlets on this release- link out to that news article in your email. Customers will be more impressed by the unbiased, third-party coverage than by you tooting your own horn.
Prospective customers should also receive press releases with newsworthy information, but the subject line and even the wording should be tweaked so that the email is ultimately geared towards driving conversions. It’s wise to re-write the press release content for email format — i.e. make it scan-able, personalize the salutation and signature, and only link the most important call to action(s). Just copy/pasting a press release into an email is not going to do much to sell your product to prospects. You can even consider including a special offer for first-time buyers in such emails to increase the likelihood that they will act on the news they receive.
Prospects can also receive your not-so-newsworthy press releases since they are ultimately the intended audience for such marketing materials. Make sure press releases intended for marketing emphasize the benefit, just like traditional marketing content, even though their format somewhat disguises their underlying purpose.
3. “Earned Media”
Remember that earned media is classified as such because you have to work for it by capturing the attention of the media outlet. Therefore, if you’re pitching a press release in order to earn free media coverage, you should stick to newsworthy press releases since they are inherently more striking to prospective publishers of your content.
That said, if you’re trying to reach a specific vertical or niche market, sometimes a marketing press release can also be considered newsworthy to industry readers. If you want a not-so-newsworthy press release to earn media space, consider submitting carefully targeted messages to vertical publications. Often, the publishers will be glad to have free content that’s relevant to their readers.
4. Paid Media
If you pay for ad space, you can put whatever content you want in it (within reason, of course). Your message could consist of a newsworthy company update or one whose primary purpose is marketing ,but either way, make sure that your spending is worth it. Consider that a newsworthy release is likely going to get you more free media space than a marketing release, so when in doubt, use your paid media placements to promote news that you doubt will get much attention otherwise.
Research the publication and learn about its readership to get the most bang for your buck. How many people read it? What industries do they work in? Are they decision-makers? Doing your homework will help you identify worthwhile places to spend your marketing dollars and help you tailor your message so that when you do put down money for media space, it counts.
Hopefully, the ideas above have given you some guidance on how to use a classic marketing technique in a new way so that it remains relevant and powerful. Are there other places where press releases work wonders that I didn’t mention?