Understand the Press Release Payoff

press_releasesI have to admit, I have had a good couple of days this week. I have been working with a client looking to break into government computing, and one of their sales executives was presenting at the Government 2.5 conferences this week. In our weekly client call Monday morning, I piped up in my best Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland voice, “Hey boys and girls, let’s put out a press release!”

Okay, I know a press release on a brief pseudo sales pitch at a niche conference isn’t strictly speaking news. But it does offer a chance to create a market presence in a new niche with a new message. Let’s face it, press releases aren’t just for press any more, and they haven’t been for some time. The press release has become the quintessential marketing device for some companies looking to capture the imagination of a well-targeted market segment, and raise their Google rankings in the bargain. It’s a good tool to make a market statement in a format that gets better exposure than a lot of web content. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to write a news release about every new sales idea that comes along; even Web news still has some standards.

I thought this particular opportunity warranted a news release because it would create a number of new opportunites, including (in no particular order):

  • An opportunity to outline features and benefits as they suit a new market.
  • An opportunity to develop a new set of key words and search phrases to help drive new Web traffic in a new market context to promote SEO.
  • An opportunity to reach out once more to our core press and analyst group to remind them that the client is not letting moss grow under their feet but they are aggressively tapping a new market.
  • An opportunity to refresh the social media channel and tell Twitter and Facebook followers what we have been up to.
  • In general, an opportunity to feed the Web!

The release itself was relatively simple to write, and since it was largely internal approvals were a breeze. So within 48 hours we had it on the wire, and distributed it to a few select editors tracking related topics.

And we got a payoff! An editor responded to my e-mail indicating he was working on a similar story on a related technology in a different market: “This looks intriguing. Do you have clients with similar issues in my area of interest?” Or course we do. The interview is pending.

So press releases pay off in a number of ways, and very few of them have anything to do with actual press. With the birth of the Web, the rules have changed.  You need to understanding how and when to apply the format to promote brand and market awareness.

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