Rumors of the death of press release have been widely, falsely and ignorantly exaggerated.
Well written, high quality, newsworthy press releases definitely deserve a place in the small business marketing and promotions arsenal. Perhaps they're boring or inconvenient to some bleeding edge techies, but if you're a small business owner somewhere between New York City and the Colorado River, press releases can be effective in generating local media coverage while raising your visibility and credibility along the way. Let's explore:
1. Gets You in the Story
OK, in a perfect world, the media would be stumbling over themselves to hear your story. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. However, you can still get in the story by being creative, consistent and always adding value and insight. Tie your press release or news announcement to something going on nationally, or regionally/locally if the story is big enough. Remember, this is more than just piggy-backing. You need to have great content that is relatable, relevant and (somewhat) real. Events (read "stunts") don't have to be real or organic to have a big impact but they are typically reserved for larger companies. Press releases that add a twist or new fact to the larger story, deepen its understanding or meaning or add some unique local flavor are all contenders for local media coverage.
It may not be the New York Times, but what if you or your business were quoted in your local daily or burgeoning hyper-local blog on a monthly basis? Would that possibly increase your visibility, and potentially, your sales?
2. Moves the Needle of Recognition in the Newsroom or the Basement
As you know, today, mainstream news organizations compete with bloggers and content syndicates for eyeballs and attention spans. That's good news for press release purveyors who target effectively, craft creatively and pitch correctly. This is not the era to deploy the scatter-shot approach. Ten years ago, a misdirected release or pitch ended up in the garbage can. Now, that same approach could get you blasted on the blogosphere. So, taking the time to build the right list of real contacts is required. Of course, it also pays huge dividends.
Consistent, targeted, newsworthy releases will help get you in the story, as mentioned above, but they'll also help get you on the radar in the newsroom (in the case of the mainstream media) or the basement (in not quite the case of the blogosphere). You want to become known as the go-to source on your specific topic with valuable information or insightful analysis who's easily accessible and quotable at any moment.
Issue crappy releases, always send reporters to voicemail or make it difficult for them to get what they need from you and you'll quickly fall of their radar.
Targeted, high, quality, well written press releases are the key to good coverage and good contacts.
Did I mention the cost? $0 or close to it. This is not advertising, where you're investing hundreds or thousands of dollars every time you want to try a new idea or go in a different direction. As long as you're staying relevant, targeting your efforts and developing a reputation for delivering high quality on a consistent basis, you'll have a string of successes (and clippings) from the local media.
There are a growing number of social media press release services that include the ability to add embedded video, tags, resource links and other digital content to online press releases. The additional content rounds out the story and provides necessary context and background information to interested writers, all while affording some nice Google juice for your business or brand.
Are press releases dead? Absolutely not. Reporters we talk to every week rely on them for stories in the paper, on TV, the radio and the web. The proof is, literally, all around you.
Don't think your brand or business could benefit from a series of top-notch press releases? Perhaps it's time to think again.