By Heidi Cohen published September 29, 2010

5 Ways to Maximize the Impact of Press Releases Using Content Marketing Techniques

Contrary to current thinking, the press release is alive and supports marketing and communications objectives. As keyword-rich content supporting search optimization, the press release—especially in its social media format—is a very effective marketing tool for attracting mainstream and trade media, consumer and public attention. But, to be most effective, press releases must contain more than the plain vanilla fodder of executive changes and regulatory announcements.

5 Ideas to Turn Your Press Release Into a Media Magnet

Here are five suggestions to move your organization’s PR beyond the ho-hum, must-disclose information usually contained in a press release. These suggestions will also help provide additional entranceways into your firm’s online presence, and help promote the thought leadership of more spokespeople – opening up other media possibilities and a greater number of touchpoints between your organization and its customers.

Leverage the interest in current events to create a hook for your company
When choosing a story that already has or is gaining a high level of  public awareness, find an unusual hook specific to your company or industry to get your information visibility.

For example, a local health club could have connected with the Old Spice YouTube campaign with an article like “21 Tips to Be In Shape Like Old Spice Spokesperson, Isaiah Mustafa.” Ask yourself, what can our firm contribute to the discussion where we have a special perspective? Think in terms of giving advice, not promoting your product and/or services.

Use a survey
Gather publishable data that the market will find interesting.  Charles Schwab’s 2010 Family & Money Survey found that twenty-somethings were more interested in financial fitness than physical fitness following the financial meltdown. Remember you’re looking for a way to get people’s attention related to a topic they’re interested in. Your offering shouldn’t be the main focus of the survey!

Extend holiday-related promotions
Develop PR campaigns around promotionally-driven events like back-to-school, Halloween and Thanksgiving. For example, you could write a press release on “5 Reasons Helping Your Child Get Organized for School Improves Grades” and link to a shopping list on your website or specific back-to-school products. Your goal is to provide useful information to customers, which also relates to your products. Alternatively, you could help create an event, like “Social Media Day ” developed and promoted by Mashable.

Incorporate a promotion into your press release
A great example that illustrates this point is from Southwest Airlines: it generated $1.5 million in sales from four press releases. When you use this form of promotion, create special promotion codes to track your results. Also, be very clear about the timing on your pricing. Consider that this type of promotion might go viral, so you must have sufficient product or your prospects will feel cheated.

Put the spotlight on your customers
Take a page from American Express, which features customers who use their product in their Open advertising and Lion Brand Yarn, which features a customer project each month in their blog. For a press release, think about how to incorporate your product and something of benefit to prospective customers. For example, Lion Brand Yarn could provide a link to a pattern in their press release and give a discount on the materials. Remember to get permission and a release for using customers’ photographs. Many customers are thrilled to get the attention.

3 Content Marketing Tips

As with any marketing strategy, it’s critical to get the furthest reach and measure the results when you can. Here are three suggestions to consider for your press releases.

Include links to specific pages on your website
Make sure that your landing pages directly relate to the press release.

Optimize your press release for search and social media
Use appropriate keywords in your release and post a copy of your press release on your website.

Incorporate trackable promotion codes where appropriate
The aim is to be able to monitor where readers come from and what actions they take as a result of your press release.

As with any marketing or PR tactic, using a press release alone won’t ensure success. It requires careful integration with other aspects of your marketing mix. It helps to have spokespeople who are available to expand on the ideas in your press release. Of course, incorporate trackable links back to your website to drive actionable sales leads or purchases that come from your campaign.

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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  • Mark McClure

    Thanks for that SWP Press Release Case Study link – very helpful.