At Schwartz Communications’ breakfast roundtable on content marketing last week, attendees were asked to rank which channels they used to get the news out about their company. Plenty of people use “blogs,” “Twitter,” “Facebook,” or “LinkedIn” but “press release” barely registered.

That led one attendee to ask why. Her employer, a B2B electronics manufacturer, regularly uses press releases that have been optimized for search engines. They get decent readership, she said, as well as some media mentions. From the tone of her voice, she was wondering if she was crazy for still issuing press releases or everyone else was crazy for avoiding them.

I thought I had killed off the press release earlier this year with my post pointing out there’s fewer and fewer official “press” folks to distribute news to, and that they’re more and more likely to hear your news over the Web before you “release” it. No “press,” no “release” means no need for a “press release,” right?

OK, maybe not for everyone. You’ll always have important news to share with the world and if you want to call it a “press release,” go for it. Just remember the aim is to share news with the world, not just “release” it to the “press.”  So what should you do differently?

Don’t just do a press release and share it over the syndication services. Reuse the content in the form of Tweets, blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc

 Do search-engine optimize both the press release and the spin-off content, based on an analysis of the keywords your target audience searches for.

 Don’t write about what you think is exciting. Write instead about what’s in it for the reader (whether that’s a reporter, customer, industry analyst, or investor.) Include a benefit statement for that target reader in the first paragraph of every press release.  For example:

Backing up its promise to aggressively comply with new financial regulations, Goliath Universal Bank today announced it has already met 2014 requirements established by this summer’s financial regulatory overhaul…

Bringing iSCSI capabilities to the small business network-attached storage market for the first time, PackRat Storage today announced…

Adding HP products to the existing IBM and HP offerings it can provide customers, Joe’s Regional Geek Services today announced it has become an HP Silver Solutions Partner…

And drop the useless quotes. “We are very pleased to have Amalgamated Stores choose us as their exclusive supplier of paper towels for their five trillion retail outlets worldwide.” Of course you’re pleased, the quote says nothing and will drive readers away lest you follow up with something equally dull.

Whether you call your news a “press release,” a “blog post” “mutterings from around the water cooler” or just “content” is less important than how you write it. Focus on what the reader wants to know, rather than what’s  exciting to you from inside the organizational glass bubble. Then reuse it, share it, repeat it and search-optimize the heck out of it.  

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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