As marketing continues its inexorable shift to inbound, the humble press release has often been held up as an example of an out of date concept pandering to a dwindling pack of newshounds.
However as a recent article points out, in the online magazine the Chief Content Officer – published by the excellent Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute – the press release is still a content marketer’s workhorse.
With a little careful rehabilitation The Press Release can still form part of your content marketing toolkit.
Steve Farnsworth of Jolt Digital Media says, “Most press releases aren’t read by the media, they’re read by the people. Your readers are going to be your stakeholders and you’ll reach them more directly that way than through the media.”
So as with other content marketing formats there is a shift towards creating channels of distribution that connect directly with your target audience, which in the world of B2B is your core buyer persona.
As with other content such as blogs, press releases can become a powerful source of reference as they become searched upon, liked, forwarded and commented upon.
In the same way as your blog or email should always include a call to action, that drives the buyer to a high value piece of content such as an eBook, whitepaper, or even a simple infographic, so should the press release.
In this way the press release can be used to drive traffic and aquire contacts and leads.
How To Rehabilitate Your Press Release
1) Tell a story.
This can be tough in such a short format; short compelling copy is hard to write.
So rather than drivel on about a new product’s features and benefits, include a quote from the head of product development about how this new product release meets the shifting needs of buyers, or solves a problem in a new way – demonstrate some thought leadership.
Perhaps include a quote from a customer who had a problem that you solved. Wield the editor’s pen with gusto, and delete corporate speak and gobbledygook.
Excise words like “innovative,” “best practice,” “global presence,” “leading provider” – when was the last time you read a good story that included that vocabulary?
2) Build other communication formats into your press releases.
Take advantage of the divergence of communication tools at our disposal.
Perhaps add a Youtube video clip of a customer talking about a successful outcome to a project in which you were involved.
Use images and infographics to summarise and explain complicated ideas or large amounts of data.
Check out this excellent example from the Commonwealth Bank, who release a business confidence index each quarter. The have done a great job or displaying dry and complex data in a clear and informative way.
Use links that provide access to more detailed information. This is the most simple form of call to action and can drive traffic to your site and potentially leads into the top of your funnel.
3) Build interactivity.
Don’t neglect to add a comments section to your online version of your press release (or a link to a comments section if you are sending it via email). Ensure comments are always answered promptly.
Add social media icons for easy forwarding and #hashtags.
4) Measure what works – and react
Use the power of today’s marketing automation platforms to measure the success of your press releases. Ensure they are hosted on your main site and subject to the same scrutiny from your measurement tools that you blogs, emails and landing pages also face.
Track your press release specific traffic. Did people find your press release via referral links from other sites, organically or direct? Did they arrive from a social media site like LinkedIn? Which calls to action are most clicked on? Of those that generated clicks how many went on to download an offer (such as an eBook or similar) and become a genuine lead?
Analyse your data and do something about it. Having data is one thing, analysing it and making a decision to take action and make a change is quite another. But through this analysis your press releases will become rehabilitated and form an essential part of your digital content toolkit.