Unlike many promotional methods within the digital marketing space, the humble press release has been around long before the internet – I even remember being taught how to create one in school 12-15 years ago. In its most basic form, it packages news into a digestible format to feed out to journalists, bloggers and anyone who could potentially echo your message.
One common trait of the press release is the ‘mass scaling effect’. Up scaling your outreach method to reach more people can be a great way to amplify news, but at the same time you risk isolating your entire audience by doing so. The value of personalisation has been proven time and time again in outreach case studies – and I don’t just mean starting your message with “Hello (insert name here)”.
Taking time to engage with your target as in individual is much more effective. However, all too often I see press releases with endless undisclosed (sometimes even disclosed) recipients with nothing more than a generic blurb to draw the reader in.
Back in March I attended LinkLove, an annual search conference hosted by Distilled. Claire Stokoe gave a great talk about her approach to infographic marketing (you can check out the slides from that presentation here). One point she mentioned really stuck in my mind; make sure your content targets at least three or more different niches and spreads its reach as far as possible.
Although this is clearly best practice and common sense, the hustle and bustle of marketing jargon, brand message and technical requirements can often push the most obvious requirements out of the picture. After all, if you don’t appeal to your potential audience then you’re only really servicing yourself. Press releases are quick and cost effective to produce, which is why I feel they often end up shoved to the bottom of the pile. They’re usually spat out as a last resort hoping that it ends up duplicated on some generic news site.
What I felt was so good about Claire’s advice is that it applies to practically everything; from big budget flashing-lights content, editorials and blog posts like the one you’re reading now.
Applying this theory to press releases is simple; produce a separate document for each niche you wish to target, tailoring the title information, quotes and any accompanying media to appeal to curiosity. By doing this you can not only expand your list of potential contacts but almost guarantee it gets better coverage.
Here are some examples on how you might approach this:
Technical vs general writers
…OR tech heads who understand jargon of their niche vs general sites where people dabble.
EXAMPLE: Take a press release for a brand new phone. An electronics publication would likely be more interested in the inner workings of the device itself. Therefore you could include quotes from the engineering team alongside images of the circuit board. A consumer focused phone site would care more about what the product is capable of so you’d include screenshots from the phone itself and quotes from the software team.
Direct audience vs applicable
…OR those with a direct interest vs those who cover general topics
EXAMPLE: You’re sending out information regarding a new museum. History sites would want to know in more detail about the artefacts held with some expert opinion from a historian. Local newspaper reporters would be more interested in location, what it offers for the community/tourist industry and comment from the company operating said museum.
Local vs national
…OR news that’s relevant to the whole country, but has local specifics.
EXAMPLE: You’re an organisation offering a national service that’s soon to be going through changes. National news coverage would be more interested in how it affects everyone so include a general view with quotes from someone higher up like a CEO. Local news sources would care more about the effect on their community, which services in their area are effected and comment from a local authority.
Local vs local
…OR leading on, if you have local news that applies to multiple areas, tailor it to appeal.
EXAMPLE: When we published some location specific survey results earlier this year we contacted many local news sources. We’d never had spoken with many of these before due to geographic constraints. By tailoring each press release to specific locations, with information and quotes relating to familiar and relevant places we had a much higher success rate. If we’d sent out one press release listing all the locations it’s likely our message wouldn’t have travelled as far.
Site types vs audiences
…OR what do you want out of the press release? Is the site home to potential customers – does it need tailoring to encourage a call to action?
EXAMPLE: Are your target market hanging around, reading and contributing to the website you’re contacting? Include prices, how to purchase and tell the writer why their audience need to hear about your news. Or perhaps your press release is solely about brand building, therefore is it worth including your social links rather than your website?
These scenarios are just a snippet of potential ways to think outside of the box when it comes to press releases. Here at OKO Digital we can help your business find that essential “human interest” angle to capture and embrace all your target audiences by asking three simple questions…
• Who would this appeal to?
• How can we make it appeal to more people?
• What websites are these people reading and interacting with online?
Putting that extra few yards of effort into crafting your press releases is a great and cost effective way to make your message travel a few miles further.
Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.