In today’s economy, your dollar needs to go further and your tactics need to work better. News releases are an important part of this challenge. But with all the talk about social media releases, search engine optimization, blogger outreach and shrinking newsrooms — whew, this list could get exhausting — it sometimes seems like public relations people are being pulled in too many directions and that press releases are less relevant. In reality, well executed news releases are more effective than ever, spreading both further and wider than ever before.
In addition to the traditional media, your release can now move across the Web on social media sites and search engines and land directly in front of journalists, bloggers and even consumers. So how can you effectively reach these three target audiences with a single release? Here are a few tips:
- E-mail it! Journalists prefer to receive news releases via e-mail. Like the rest of us, they organize their lives in their inbox, so reach them where they work. (I would advise you to target wisely, but you already know that.)
- Fill it! Journalists have less time to do more work and bloggers are driven to create loads of content with virtually no lead time. Make it easy for them to cover your story quickly and efficiently by including all the info they might need to craft a blog or article. Include links (But no attachments! No one likes an e-mail that clogs up their inbox.) to images, backgrounders, bios, rules and regulations, contacts, video and audio, etc. Since Web content is now in high demand, make sure you add embed codes that recipients can grab and load on their own sites; and consider being adventurous by adding creative Web content when appropriate.
- Brand it! News releases are no longer just a B-to-B tool. They land directly in front of the consumers you want to reach. Make sure your release is well branded, reflects your marketing initiatives, and looks good on all systems through the preview pane even with images blocked. (Honestly, a good looking release will stand out from newsroom clutter and impress bloggers so all three audiences will appreciate this. Just don’t go over the top and send a release that looks like an ad, or worse, has uninvited noise or animation.) Be sure to include any elements consumers will find useful like recipes, how-to tips or discounts.
- Share it! Social media components can also be added to your release to improve its online presence and make it more viral. Most effectively, social media bookmarks enable recipients to simply click a link and spread your news onto Twitter, Facebook, Digg and other social media sites and news aggregators. Sphere links are also handy — they enable recipients to see related content on the Web.
- Optimize it! Search engine optimize your release so it’s easier to find through search engines. Do a little research on potential keywords. Once you’ve decided which words to use, place them up high in the release and then get your release on the Web. (There are loads of free or inexpensive ways to do this.) Keep in mind that search is a competitive space so don’t expect a page-one ranking — using releases to optimize your Web site, however, can render real results.
So to sum up, all you have to do to ensure your next release works better than ever is make journalists happy (by e-mailing targeted and system-friendly digital releases loaded with images, video, links and more); take advantage of new media (by incorporating social media elements such as bookmarks and blogs and make sure the writing, organization and digital data is blogger-friendly with easy to grab video and images, etc.); and, make a good impression on consumers (by following your organization’s branding guidelines and optimizing your release for the Web via SEO and social media components). Whew! Easy! Right?
By Malayna Williams is a managing partner at PWR New Media, experts in interactive digital communications. Malayna has worked in the digital communications field, focused primarily on the execution of digital press releases, for five years. She works with clients ranging from associations to CPG firms to some of the country’s largest and most innovative public relations firms.
Join Williams for her teleseminar, “Digital Media and Today’s Electronic News Release: Make it Easy for Journalists to Pick Up Your Story,” on Tuesday, July 16, 2009, at 3 p.m. EDT!