With Cision’s recent acquisition of PR Newswire, many are wondering whether industry consolidation will change the practice of PR. Is the press release now dead? We don’t think so. Press releases are still a very valuable tool in a company’s integrated marketing to drive awareness and leads. We have some clients where we receive at least one inbound call per month from seeing a press release online, asking for a sales rep to call them.
Here’s our take on what’s changed and tips to refresh your approach for press releases in 2016:
Purpose of a press release - A decade ago, the primary goal of a press release was to communicate to reporters and this document controlled the conversation. Now in the digital era, the press release competes with the always-on digital platforms. Today, companies use press releases to share their news not only with press but also with everyone. In addition, press releases provide the facts without the sometimes noisy commentary. Reporters are bombarded with pitches and news daily and rely on this form of content to get the facts in front of them immediately when writing a story.
Our tip: Keep a steady stream of interesting, newsworthy releases flowing. This help show momentum that a company is delivering on its business strategies, success with customers and partners, and will help position itself as a leader in its respective industry.
Content of a release - Press releases of the past focused exclusively on the written word, relaying the messages and news of a company. Today, press releases include well-placed quality links, digital content, images and persuasive calls to action.
Our tip: Write great headlines with relevant keywords to drive SEO. Ensure your releases meet Google’s demand for high-quality content. When writing your release, make sure your focus on the news, quickly get to the “why” your news is important and highlight the benefits you are bringing to your target audience. Content should now be designed to drive interaction from target audiences, so include interesting, digital content that consumers will want to share and comment on.
Distribution channels and shareability - In the old days when a press release was finalized, it was sent exclusively to a wire firm such as Marketwired or PR Newswire to ensure it is shared with a large network of reporters. After a few weeks, press releases were then filed away in newsrooms or disappeared off websites. Now, there are a myriad of additional networks thanks to the Internet where people can read these releases or easily find a company's information through an online search.
Our tip: Find all relevant social networks (not just Twitter), share your releases and use relevant hashtags. Also, make sure you include your dateline as today’s press releases have great staying power and can be discoverable for many years to come. To increase engagement, share with videos, pictures and other forms of multimedia people like to share.
Drive leads - Before, press releases were unable to leverage the connections we can today from the Internet. Today, press releases help marketers increase web site traffic from strategic keyword placement. They help drive referral traffic across news outlets and provide companies with the ability to create new content, increasing a web site’s ability to more frequently index and be seen as a Google authority. With marketing automation and content marketing strategies, press releases provide fresh content to fill the funnel.
Our tip: A press release that is optimized for search engines using keywords will draw prospects in. Use the press release as core content and package it up for blogs posts, bylined articles, white apers and e-books.
Some things never change – Interest journalists to write about you! A press release still provides content and facts that can be sourced for journalists and bloggers to drive the story you want to increase awareness for your company.
Our tip: The press does not just cover news, especially if its not earth shattering and affecting a large population of consumers. Employ a proactive PR outreach strategy to help put your news in front of relevant journalists, bring your news in context and increase its interest. And make sure you have PR professionals helping you drive the PR coverage you want and need for your business.
So keep those press releases coming in 2016!!