In the book “Newsjacking,” author David Meerman Scott recounts the story of how Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua (a marketing automation company), capitalized on one of their rivals’ acquisitions. Payne noticed that their competitor’s acquisition of Market2Lead received very little press. Sensing an opportunity, he quickly crafted his own angle on the story.
Payne’s story was titled “Oracle Joins The Party.” It pointed out how important the acquisition was for the industry and the potential for lead management software. When media outlets caught up with the takeover by Oracle, they already had well written story – with quotes ready for immediate use.
And just like that, Payne’s own company was being mentioned everywhere that the takeover was announced, including major media outlets like Business Week, PC World, Infoworld, and more. As a result of the media attention, Eloqua ended up closing more than $1 million in new business. This example demonstrates the power of releasing your own well-timed spin on an existing story. But let’s dig a little deeper:
The Benefits of Issuing Press Releases
Issuing press releases can create a number of substantial benefits for your business. The most obvious is the exposure to new audiences. People are more likely to read editorial content than advertisements, so having your business mentioned in the media is great for building brand recognition.
Issuing press releases will help fast track you to being cited in the media. It helps to establish your position as an expert in your industry. Press releases will also help you develop relationships with reporters and editors. After a while, you can become a go-to source for information and comments on a particular subject. These relationships can lead to opportunities for television and radio appearances, which further increase credibility in your industry.
Press releases can also be great trust builders. Even if the press release is in your original wording, it will be viewed as more credible simply because it appears on third-party website. People are much more accepting of what they read on a news website versus what they read on a personal or company site. Press releases can even help improve the visibility of your website through powerful back links from distribution on media websites (which is great for SEO).
How Often to Issue Press Releases
I recommend to my coaching clients that they issue a new press release at least twice a month. Like any marketing strategy, consistency is key if you want to see good results. Some business owners struggle with this idea of a twice-a-month schedule because they don’t think that they have enough “newsworthy” content to announce. But with a little brainstorming, identifying topics to cover in your press releases isn’t as hard as you might imagine.
Here are just a handful of ideas:
- A new product or service
- Work your business has done in the community
- An upcoming event, speech or conference
- How a customer has made innovative use of your product
- An award you or your business won
- A controversial opinion on a popular topic
How to Craft a Press Release That Works
When writing your press release, you want to take care of as much of the work as possible. Write a captivating headline that can be used without much editing required. The purpose of a press release isn’t to act as a sale piece for your product.Instead, write a press release in the same style and format a reporter would – this means crafting an interesting story that a media outlet could use straight away.
A good press release starts with a compelling headline, followed by a short paragraph of no more than two sentences (called the “lead”). This should draw the reader into the rest of story. The second paragraph should sum up why your press release is valuable as a news story. Follow this with a compelling quote that demonstrates your expert knowledge on the subject.
The next few paragraphs should include additional information, as well as another quote that journalists will easily be able to use. Then cap it off with a concluding statement. Keep your press releases to a single page and provide your name, contact details, website URL and a brief description of you and your business.
Issuing Your Press Release
There are two forms of distribution: online and offline. Both have enormous benefits.
- Offline Press Releases: I’m a fan of faxing and emailing press releases to a select, very targeted group of reporters. Start with creating a list of local reporters within a 50-mile radius of your business. Follow them on Twitter. Be familiar with their work. Make an effort to establish a relationship with them. Starting with local press will progressively lead to national press.
- Online Press Releases: There are a number of premium press release websites available. I believe you get what you pay for, and haven’t found free press release distribution services to be overly effective, so I don’t recommend them.
Some of the best press release sites to use include PRNewswire, PRWeb, BusinessWire and MarketWire.
A twice-monthly press release schedule is relatively inexpensive compared to many other advertising methods, and it only takes one well-timed story like Joe Payne’s to deliver a huge amount of exposure for your business.
What are you going to write your next press release about?