There are many differing opinions today on the value of a news release.
Some even say they’re obsolete, done in by technology. Don’t believe everything you hear. As an agency, you still have to get the message out for your clients, especially when you have some great news to share. And if and when trouble comes up, it’s best to stay on top of the story and shape the narrative.
There’s a right way to do it, of course.
So, where does the press release fit into today's world? What can companies do to optimize the full potential of a press release? And can traditional and non-traditional media co-exist?
When developed properly and with a clear goal in mind, press releases can deliver a great amount of value. They are not for every occasion, so here are some ways to decide if your announcement should be disseminated by press release.
Is your news, newsworthy?
The harsh truth is, sometimes what you think is newsworthy, isn’t. So first and foremost, companies need to ask themselves if their news requires a release and why.
Here are a few instances where a press release may be appropriate:
- A grand opening or re-open
- A product launch or re-brand
- Winning a major award
- Donating a large amount to a charity or important initiative
- A business acquisition or a major milestone
- A change in ownership/management or other material changes to a company or business
In addition to those instances, almost everyone will agree that news releases are still useful communications tools that media and analysts and financial reporters reference often.
Know the Audience
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, press releases can be an excellent tool to reach your audience - when disseminated properly.
Similar to every marketing tactic, it’s important to know your audience. Here are some important questions you should ask yourself when distributing a release on a newswire.
- Who would be interested in knowing this information? The public, journalists, or both?
- If it’s journalists, what publications will I select when disseminating my release?
- Am I looking to inform a local, national, or international audience or publications?
The news wire is just a vehicle, it is still dependent on you to strategize who will get the release and where it will be disseminated. This leads us to our next point; location.
Location, Location, Location
Once you decide on a target audience, you must decide where your news is most relevant. Two factors will play a role here; where your target audience is located and where your business is located.
For example, if you’re announcing the launch of a new restaurant opening and the business is located in Ontario, you may wish to select a local audience to distribute to and target trade publications, such as hospitality, food and drink, travel, lifestyle, and retail.
If you’re looking for your company to receive a greater international presence, you have the option to circulate your press release to a larger across the globe. Just remember, stay relevant; if your audience isn’t valuable to an international audience, your press release will most likely be discarded or ignored.
Learn to Optimize Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
There are many elements involved in SEO. In terms of press releases, two are of the utmost importance: keywords and hyperlinks.
Before publishing, you must determine what terms your audience will be searching for. If you’re using the proper keywords, there’s a very high likelihood that your audience will fall upon your release.
To determine what keywords will maximize the potential of your release, there are several search tools and programs available. The most popular being Google’s Ads Keyword Planner or Google Analytics. These tools help find new keywords that are most relevant to your business and also pre-existing keywords that your audience is already using to find and click on your website.
Once you’re ready to publish, you need to decide what keywords and phrases should be hyperlinked. Also known as natural anchor text, hyperlinks can be added to a word or phrase in the press release, directing readers to a company website or previous press release.
Hyperlinks can enhance your press release by providing useful information to the reader. But keep in mind, quality over quantity - hyperlinks are only beneficial when you’re using links that are useful to your audience.
Press Releases Cannot Exist in a Vacuum
If you do decide to issue a press release, we recommend thinking of other ways to expand your reach. This might include a blog post on your website, social media integration, paid advertising with appropriate publications or sending the announcement out organically to your media contacts who might find it interesting. Whatever you decide, a press release should be done strategically thinking about the intended audience and what you are hoping to get out of it.
The worst possible thing is to not have a real measurement system in place. Getting covered in Yahoo Finance and 400 places who took your press release verbatim is NOT a win. Today, there are great tools out there that will help you measure how impactful your release was and how it helped to meet your business objectives.
If you want some help with your press release or just have some questions about how this all works. There are excellent resources available online but also great agencies that will jump in and ensure its written and distributed exactly as you like (with real data and measurements to back it up).