Marketing TECHniques: The How and Why of Press Releases

Photo: Anita O'Malley is CEO of Leadarati Photo Credit: Courtesy Leadarati
Anita O’Malley is CEO of Leadarati | Courtesy Leadarati

Featuring best marketing practices for today’s tech companies.

Today, almost everyone in business is familiar with a press release. Let’s talk about why and how using this online news distribution tool is a key way to build your online brand and supplement your marketing strategy.

For this article, I interviewed Stephanie Young, a copywriter with over 20 years of experience helping businesses refine their message and enhance their communications. An expert in PR, Stephanie strongly believes that a compelling and newsworthy press release offers powerful support for a company’s sales strategy.

 Q. Can you tell us what a press release looks like?

A press release is a page-long story that succinctly delivers your company news in roughly 250 words or less. It should, at a minimum, include your logo, your website and links to your social media platforms. News outlets prefer a standardized journalistic format such as AP style.

To place a press release on the wire means it is delivered to editors at newspapers, trade publications, magazines, TV and radio stations, in an industry or geography of your choice. It also gets its own permanent URL. Here’s an example of one:

A week or two after a release goes live, you’ll get a results dashboard from the wire service detailing reads, impressions, publishing locations and more.

Q. Can you share some examples of news that a business would use for a press release?

Most businesses have tremendous opportunity for press coverage and don’t even realize it. You don’t need to wait for that new product launch, industry award or company acquisition to announce news. Look for some less obvious happenings, such as a company milestone or anniversary, a new product/service or even a partner certification.

Are you planning or attending an event or charity sponsorship? That’s news, too. Even a new hire or something noteworthy an employee did or accomplished outside of the office can be made into a press release.

Q. You’re a proponent of using press releases to drive business opportunity. Why? 

A press release program is a necessary component to a well-rounded marketing strategy, and here’s why: First, a press release is an economical way to get your company’s name in front of hundreds of thousands of eyes, known as impressions, for a broader brand reach. It’s also an ideal way to showcase who you are, what you do and even why they might need your services.

With instant distribution to media in any geography you choose, the press release can also drive viewers to your website and establish your business as an industry leader. I’ve seen companies who consistently draw more than 300,000 impressions from one release. It’s impressive.

To get even more mileage from your release, you can publish it to your website, add a link to company email signatures, include it in your corporate blog and/or post it across your social channels.

Q. What are some perceived barriers to getting started with a press release program? 

For starters, many businesses don’t really know what a press release is or what it’s used for. But with a better understanding of its purpose—that is, a communication directed at select media to announce something newsworthy—businesses can begin to envision where it fits into the overall marketing strategy.

Another barrier is the belief that your company has nothing newsworthy to share. As mentioned above, there’s usually something going on with any business that can be considered news.

Last, and the concern heard most often, is simply not knowing where to begin—how to write a release, where to distribute it and so on. This is where outsourcing to an experienced PR writer comes in handy.

Q. Where’s the best place to start?

Begin by identifying your newsworthy stories. (Think outside the box). Next, take stock of your current resources. Does anyone on your marketing or communications teams have the skillset to launch a basic press release program? If not, outsource to an agency or copywriter that has specific experience writing press releases.

Q. What’s your favorite amusement park ride?

I wish I could say Kingda Ka or El Toro, but for me, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean in Disney World.

[Leadarati helps IT firms drive value and increase opportunities through social, digital and online communications. Follow Anita O’Malley on Twitter @Leadarati ]



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