News flash: Press releases aren’t the outdated rotary phones of marketing you may think they are. While it’s true we no longer rely solely on PRs to let journalists know about an event or appearance, we’ve found a new use for these handy pieces of communicatory collateral.
Learning how press releases support your content marketing strategy can help you get more bang for your buck out of every blog, social post and white paper, and that’s something worth talking about.
Combining PR and Marketing
Whether you’re a new startup, a global Fortune 500 company or something in between, press releases will work for you on some level because they revolve around a story. And everyone has a story.
While it’s true that journalists are still probably going to pay more attention to big companies than small ones, a great press release (built around an equally great story) can help you gain traction as journalists pick up your release and pass it on. And that’s an important point — though you’ll see press releases pulling double duty in your online newsroom or as extra collateral for your social media pages (more on that in a moment), your primary audience is still journalists rather than end users. Keeping that in mind as you create and distribute could go a long way toward helping you shape content that resonates with the people who have the power to pass on your news.
But how does PR support content marketing? Skilled PR teams and professionals craft press releases that they distribute to journalists, journalists and bloggers that they can use as inspiration to write articles about.
As you’re designing your next marketing program, consider if you could build in a PR campaign to support it. If you’re able to get your story picked up by journalists in significant and industry relevant publications, that can get a lot more eyes on your content as well as some powerful backlinks.
You can create press releases with a customer-centric bent and use it to tell a tale your audience wants to hear:
- Announce your newest celebrity endorsement or an appearance by a local sports star
- Discuss how your upcoming fundraiser will benefit neighborhood initiatives
- Share why your small business block party is going to be kid-friendly
- Highlight what problems your new ebook will help solve
Use Press Releases to Support Your Content Strategy Via an Online Newsroom
As the owner of Redhead Marketing & PR, Hilary Reiter has a plethora of experience in both content marketing and public relations. She advises clients to include press releases in the newsroom of their website as “this helps them keep their content fresh to enhance organic SEO.”
Combine those PRs with in-house announcements, messages from the founder and other time-sensitive tidbits, and you’ll maintain a steady flow of information without being repetitive or sacrificing cohesion.
In addition to keeping your site’s content fresh, a newsroom adds a sense of legitimacy to any company’s site which can help build trust with your audience.
Press Releases Can Help Drive Traffic
Reiter’s multipronged approach to press releases also includes a dash of social media strategy. After all, your content is useless if nobody’s reading it, and with two-thirds of adults on Facebook, most on a daily basis, social platforms are an invaluable resource for anyone hoping to build readership.
“We advise them to link their press releases from social media to drive traffic to the site,” says Reiter. “Distributing press releases to media to get 3rd party coverage and credibility results in greater awareness as well as referral links that drive traffic to your website.”
Keri Lindenmuth, marketing manager at KDG, uses weekly press releases to fuel his company’s content marketing strategy and stay ahead of the competition. “To find a topic for our press release, we first look at our keyword rankings. If there is a keyword that seems to be struggling or a keyword that our competitors are catching up on, we’ll put out a press release concentrating on that keyword and link back to our website.”
Follow Keri’s advice and you’ll usually garner the added benefit of publications writing about that keyword and linking back to your site which can help rankings even further with powerful contextual backlinks.
Establish and Expand Your Authority
Most content creators have two primary goals: creating pieces that are SEO-driven and those that capitalize on thought leadership. The value of SEO is indisputable, but thought leadership is far more underutilized. By becoming an authority in your field, you insert yourself into the public conscious as the go-to source for industry trends, new ideas, and interesting takes on existing concepts. People build entire businesses on the back of their authority, and according to Michelle Calcote King, founder of PR and content marketing agency Reputation Ink, press releases can help get the word out in a big way.
“If [the content] is thought leadership-driven,” says Calcote King, “the press release can announce important content pieces that you want your target audience to be aware of (i.e. announcing an e-book, research report, etc.). The fact that you’ve created a resource for your audience can be news. You can also announce speeches, industry involvement, etc. — anything that will build a reputation for being a thought leader in your space.”
Anyone can hold a seminar on personal finance or self-publish a book on flipping houses, but only someone with a sound content marketing strategy that incorporates press releases will get maximum exposure when time in the spotlight matters most.
Getting Your Press Releases to Journalists and Influencers
Once you get the hang of writing press releases, you have to know where to send them. You can distribute the PRs yourself via social media, as part of your email marketing plan (a great way to flesh out your newsletters), or on your website, or you can hire a professional press release company. Many PR pros build media contact lists as well, and pitch those contacts to write stories about their latest press release (often offering early access to the press release to help them get a jump on competing publications).
News wire distribution agencies know which publications are best suited for the topic at hand and they likely have relationships and contacts you don’t.
Reiter recommends services such as PRWeb to help boost online visibility while minimizing the burden on your in-house resources. Lindenmuth favors multiple distribution points. “EINPresswire is a paid platform, but it is perhaps the best for building backlinks across the web. It submits your press release to hundreds of news outlets. PRLog is a free service that also lets you include links back to your website. Using both sites together, and distributing a press release weekly, ensures that fresh, new content about your site is always on the web, which does wonders for SEO.”
Distributing press releases is a specialty job, and sometimes it’s best to have specialty help.
As with most things in marketing, writing content alone won’t guarantee success. By using press releases to support your overall content marketing strategy, you help your brand gain visibility, build authority, improve search rankings and reach journalists who act as your conduit to a new, larger audience. Focus on careful integration and look at your press releases from the audience’s point of view and you may soon see just how relevant PRs continue to be.
Need help mastering the art of the press release? Hire a professional press release writer and get your story the attention it deserves.