Using Press Releases as a Marketing Tool

Traditionally, press releases were used as the prime communication tool between PR staff, public relations firms, and the news media. But with the advent of online news sites such as Google News, the “rules of engagement” have been expanded. Their massive ability to store and distribute an abundance of press release content through RSS feeds it easier to leverage press releases as a direct-to-consumer communication tool and an effective vehicle for driving targeted traffic back to a website or landing page through incoming links.

However, as powerful as press releases are and as far-reaching as news search opportunities, your releases won’t deliver what they’re capable of unless you take steps to ensure they receive maximum exposure. With that in mind, here are some specific tips you should be mindful of:

  1. Make Sure Your News is Newsworthy — No matter how well-written or optimised your press release is, there’s no cure for boring news. Try to focus on one specific topic that will appeal to a particular population segment. Also, don’t provide too much information or try to cram in too many keywords. It will only dilute the message for both news search engines and readers alike.

  2. Think in Terms of an Inverted Funnel — The first paragraph of your release should be tightly written and focus on the “Five W’s” (Who, What, When, Where, Why) so your reader has all the essential information up front. You can begin to embellish and expand your content as you “funnel down” into extraneous information.

  3. Distribute the Release to Online Distribution Services — There are a number of free distribution sites on the Web where you can post your press releases. Some offer a tiered service ranging from free to pay-per-post, but their free services are quite adequate in most cases.

  4. Give the Reader a Call To Action — A press release directed toward consumers should accomplish more than just a news announcement. It needs to direct the reader to take a specific action. This could come in a link that leads the reader to a “bait piece” such as a white paper download, free trial, special offer, podcast, webinar, audio/video access, special report, or newsletter.

  5. Create a Landing Page — A link in your press release leading to a landing page is a powerful way to convert visitors into prospects. The landing page should be designed to complement the information you provided in the release, incorporate a strong call-to-action, and be an integral component in bringing your visitor further along the sales funnel.

  6. Use Media Contacts for Greater Exposure — If possible, develop a list of media contacts and email them the release directly, along with a short cover letter stating why you think the news would be of interest to them. The caveat here, of course, is to ensure that the news is compatible with the contact’s sphere of influence. Do your homework first and know beforehand what type of news each of your contacts would welcome.

  7. Convert Your Press Release to a Blog Post — Converting your press release to a blog post and submitting it to relevant social media sites offers you even more exposure. It’s important, however, to understand the subtle differences between the two. A press release is more time-sensitive and related to a particular event or piece of information by focusing on the “5 W’s” mentioned above. It’s also expressly intended for news media. Blog posts, like articles, are more oriented towards expressing views and opinions or describing ideas in a broader range of subjects and styles. Therefore, not every type of release would lend itself to a blog post-conversion. Also, be sure that what you’re submitting is compatible with the social media network you’re promoting it to.

Final words

Above all, have fun when writing and submitting your press releases! There’s no better feeling than having a perfect stranger reach out to compliment you on your release or post an excerpt from it onto another site or blog.