I will argue that press releases are an essential part of a good marketing and public relations strategy. But it occurred to me: what do journalists and reporters think of them? Are they accomplishing what we want them to (getting the attention of the media and making them clamor to write about our brands)? So I asked a selection of journalists what they thought of press releases. Their responses make it pretty clear where many businesses are missing the mark, and lay a clear plan for how we can improve. So here are the things you’re doing wrong with press releases…and how to do better.
1. You’re Not Targeting Us Well Enough
I heard this again and again: journalists are sick of companies sending press releases that don’t relate to the beats they cover.
“If I’m a reporter in Miami and we cover all hard news, why would I care about a man in Kansas who just wrote a book that has nothing to do with my market?” says former TV reporter turned media relations specialist Christina Nicholson. Learn a lesson from this and make sure you only send press releases to journalists who cover your industry (and your geographic area).
I’ve blogged a lot about press releases here, so I thought I’d condense a list of some of the most useful posts. Whether you’re writing your first press release or want some help connecting with the media, you’ll find help here.
First, let’s start with a retrospective. If you’ve only just started using PR, you’ll be shocked to know that we once mailed — as in snail mail — our press releases to the media! None of this instant publish stuff back then.
Not convinced you need press releases? This post will sway you. Press releases remain one of the most effective ways to spread the word about your brand. Read more.
You’ve tried social media. You’ve written blog posts. You’re generating a modest amount of traffic back to your company’s website, but you want more.
Have You Considered Press Releases?
They’re great for creating backlinks to your site, boosting SEO (though there is debate on that), and generally creating interest in your company.
You Don’t Need Big Guns if You’re Armed Properly
You might think only giant corporations use press releases. While they’re a part of most big companies’ marketing and PR strategies, press releases aren’t restricted to brands with bigger budgets and branding than yours. Many small businesses aren’t using press releases to drive traffic, and therein lies the benefit to you. If your competitors aren’t reading this post, you’re one step ahead of them.
I’m happy to announce that I’ve updated my DIY Press Releases book with new information and resources for the Kindle. And the best part? It’s just $2.99.
(If you don’t have a Kindle, did you know you can download a Kindle Reader app for Chrome, iPad and your Android phone? I love the app! I can read my books from any of my devices and pick up where I left off.)
Here’s more about the Kindle version of DIY Press Releases:
You know the value of a press release, but you don’t have the budget to hire a PR firm. This book teaches you step-by-step how to write great press releases. BONUS: You’ll receive valuable resources, links to blogs and examples of actual press releases to make you into your own PR consultant!
There are numerous ways in which you can get your business’s brand noticed and boost sales; search engine optimization techniques, viral videos, content writing and social media marketing. Online PR is a great method to attract journalists to write about your company, your products and its services. But as beneficial as press releases are for marketing, they can also backfire if you do not deliver them appropriately.
A successful piece of content will be engaging, relevant and interactive. Commercial content is deemed negative in the eyes of journalism but newsworthy releases will achieve results and by publishing them to vast audiences via press release distribution sites, you extend the coverage considerably.
When PR Stunts Go Wrong
However, there are some memorable online PR stunts that have backfired and rather than causing a buzz around the brand, it has caused controversy and uproar. One of the biggest stunts was when Microsoft published Amy Winehouse’s album for sale right after she died and they advertised it all over social media sites like Twitter. The backlash was immense and industry experts accused the company of trying to cash in on the singer’s unfortunate death.
If you’ve ever wondered if there was a best time to send a press release, you’d be right. Although experts argue about when exactly that is, here’s what I’ve discovered in my own experience.
I’ve been using what I call the Tuesday to Thursday rule for years when it comes to distributing and pitching press releases and sending emails. Essentially, people are bombarded with emails on Monday (why do we get so many work-related emails on the weekend??) and on Friday their minds are elsewhere, if not their bodies. So studies have proven that the best time to interact is Tuesdays through Thursdays.
Despite the fuss that press releases are dead press releases, perhaps more appropriately titled news releases, remain a steadfast and effective tool in the marketer’s tool kit. There is one simple reason: in a Web-based world, online news releases afford the opportunity to create your own audience and reach your target market directly.
Certainly news releases have changed, in many ways the modern news release is like a standalone landing page, with quotes, multimedia and additional resources and links to relevant information. If the news distribution service you use archives your release indefinitely, then your release can continue to gain traffic even years after being initially published. To take advantage of this opportunity here are five tips to optimize your news release for new media: