In this age of 24/7 news consumption, it would be easy to write off the press release as an archaic marketing strategy. But press releases continue to evolve and are tapping into the strengths offered by data-driven online marketing and public relations.
According to Cision’s 2019 Global State of the Media report, 65% of journalists are changing the way they evaluate stories because of the availability of audience metrics. Journalists continue to look to PR professionals for content specific to their audience, and this relationship has only become more valuable.
Consumers also have direct access to press releases, through online distributors. Whether the journalist or consumer is the intended target audience, the key focus for PR pros is to distribute a press release that is well-written, and clearly promotes a brand, product, service or idea significant to a specific audience.
Here are five tactics that leverage the benefits of a press release to a brand’s comms and marketing strategy.
1. Establish a relationship with the media.
Journalists find themselves with fewer resources, and their partnership with PR professionals is a valued resource. When looking for content from brands, 71% of journalists look to press releases and news announcements as their primary source.
A well-written, relevant press release shows you’re proactive and have done your research. Media professionals don’t have time to sift through hundreds of irrelevant pitches and press releases that have nothing to do with their niche.
Sending a pitch is another option. Think of a pitch as a teaser to pique a journalist’s interest. Provide just enough information about what’s going on with your brand to grab the journalist’s attention. Pitches work well for product updates or to introduce an employee as a media expert for a particular topic. Keep it short, preferably in a bullet list, and send via email.
On the other hand, a press release is a factual account of something newsworthy. Your press release needs to provide the full story, including the who, what, where, when and why. It’s important to make clear why your news matters. Press releases work well for personnel announcements, new openings and product launches. Writing a clear, concise press release goes a long way and will help to establish a trusted relationship with journalists.
The media needs timely, relevant pitches. Journalists need information before the news happens — not after or during — so make sure to have information ready for a quick turnaround.
The benefit of an established relationship with a journalist? Over time, they will reach out for a story idea or expert quote.
2. Promote business credibility.
The media and consumers view press releases as a trusted source of data and information. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust, an eight-country study, shows the majority of consumers across multiple demographics say brand trust is essential to buying.
Consistently distributing accurate press releases allows you to build credibility over time with journalists, as well as existing and potential customers. It is especially useful for start-ups and growing small businesses to get positive word out about themselves.
In addition to publicizing important company information, the press release can be used to mitigate an internal crisis or negative external press. By providing credible facts without spin, you can clarify internal conflict to reestablish a positive brand image and public perception.
3. Build SEO traffic.
A well-written press release utilizing SEO best practices for search algorithms allows search engines to find, match, index and rank your press release. With 63,000 searches per second, having a high-ranking press release on Google and other search engines provides enhanced exposure to current and future customers. Releases posting on PRNewswire.com see twice as many page views as the nearest competitor.
Search algorithms are looking for well-written content that naturally incorporates keywords and links, so make sure to focus on using natural language and providing high-quality links in your press releases. Proper keyword usage, quality links and consistent distribution allow you to develop authority in an industry.
Google and other search engines are looking for and ranking content from authoritative sources. So post often a variety of content, including press releases, to establish your brand’s expertise.
4. Increase customer engagement.
Online news distributors and social media are giving consumers access to a brand’s press release.
Most companies use the same tried and true social sites and brand channels to communicate with customers. Distributing a well-crafted press release provides the opportunity to rank high in search, catch the attention of current and potential customers and leads to direct engagement and sharing on social channels. You have the opportunity to reach an untapped audience that you may never have considered before.
While you’re at it, directly promote your press release on your social media channels with multimedia. Customers and the media are more likely to share multimedia via social platforms than text-only.
According to Hootsuite, tweets with video get 10x more engagement, which includes likes, retweets and comments. So, make sure to include multimedia, such as photos, videos and infographics that add value to your press release and increase engagement with consumers and the media.
5. Build a content portfolio.
Stay connected to journalists and customers and keep them engaged with your brand by continually creating relevant, timely content. The more consistent you are with posting content, the more likely your brand will rank higher in search.
A press release doesn’t have to stand alone. Press releases are fact-based and include data, so let each fact become a new piece of content. Expand the press release’s lifecycle by repurposing it as a blog post, an infographic, a social post or expand into an e-book or whitepaper.
Repurposing a press release is a quick, cost-efficient way to create new content. For example, turning a press release into a blog article takes less time to construct than researching and writing an entirely new piece. You’re providing the same information, but by communicating it differently, it’s accessible to new audiences.
While the media industry has evolved drastically over the past decade, the press release hasn’t become obsolete. It has merely evolved along with marketing and communication tools. Content is king, and relevancy is essential. So give the people what they want: customized press releases with the end consumer in mind.
If you are interested in more of what journalists want from PR professionals, read the full Cision 2019 Global State of the Media Report.