For many, the term press release brings to mind newspaper blurbs buried in the middle of the newsprint next to grocery coupons and help wanted ads. Today’s electronic, Internet driven world has changed the look, feel, and effectiveness of these once hit-or-miss marketing tools. Online channels provide an opportunity to generate widespread buzz about your products and brands. As part of the master plan for your publicity campaign, press releases can be used to generate excitement and attention around your services or products. E-releases are quickly and easily shared, provide content for your website, blog and social media pages, and are an effective yet affordable means of self-promotion.
The purpose of press releases has not changed. They are still an effort to engage the attention of journalists and editors with the goal of prompting contact that may lead to an interview or magazine feature. Press releases remain a way to build credibility in your field so long as you use verifiable facts and figures with links to support your claims. They also provide your organization with an archive of the events and activities that are part of the company’s public record. The foundation of the content has not changed either – details of a product release, an event announcement, website launch, or other newsworthy item. What has changed are the expectations of the reader thereby changing the format and feel of the pieces.
Truly, the purpose of a press release is to kindle a reader’s interest in a minimal amount of time. The title should be engaging but contain keywords that accurately communicate the newsworthy topic. The first line should answer the five W questions (who, what, where, why, when) as well as how. Journalists will appreciate a concise, first paragraph that is to the point and quantifies with data any relevant statistics. Quotes that move beyond shallow superlatives provide a human element and content immediately useable by journalists. Press releases are not a time for shameless promotion of your business or product. They should be a grammatically flawless presentation of information that avoids business jargon and leaves the reader wanting more. Russell Working reminds us that, “nobody cares.” Your press release needs to tell the reader why he should care and what value-added return he can expect.
The Internet provides a platform through which press releases can harness the power of social media and online channels to reach new audiences. (Miranda Tan, MyPRGenie) An organization can quickly boost its visibility with regular press releases and, through the use of keywords, increase SEO. As with any online piece, keywords and phrases that resonate with your targeted audience are an essential way to help prospective customers and investors discover your business and learn more about the services and products you offer. They should, however, be used strategically to avoid stuffing your press release. Embedded links are a way to provide access to information that doesn’t fit into your release but, as with keywords, you should be sure to educate yourself on Google parameters to avoid penalties. You can boost interest by including video or other multimedia in your press release. Embedded media can increase views anywhere from 1.8 times to 9.7 times more than text only pieces. Calls to Action and contact information round out the “must haves,” bringing to the reader a next step as well as a means to take it.
Beyond a basic marketing tool, your press releases can serve other purposes for your organization. They can help you manage your online image and shape your brand. They provide a platform from which you can help clarify the organizational perspective of any controversial story that may surface at your company. In general, press releases provide a proactive opportunity to share news, influence public perception, and generate traffic to your store, website and social media outlets.
A single press release can reach thousands of readers at one time. While it is not a guaranteed marketing tool, it is a quick and easy way to get free publicity. It allows you an additional channel to promote something significant occurring within your business. Headline, opening sentence, body, contact information – don’t be tempted to include background information about your company or trivial details that convolute the message. Keep it concise and exciting, yet factual and, above all, newsworthy. Whether you are looking to build brand awareness, share company milestones, or develop your organizational story, professionally crafted press releases are a powerful tool to add to your marketing kit.
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