New School Press Release Tactics

New School Press Release Tactics.

The recent PR Newswire webinar on New School Press Release Tactics was packed with great tactics and insights for innovative ways and new approaches for driving media coverage and generating business outcomes using press releases.

We’ve captured some highlights in this post, and if you missed the session, you’ll find a link to the full replay of the webinar at the bottom of this page.  Joining us on the call were:

Our own Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik) vice president of content marketing, was the moderator.

New-School Media Coverage

Monaghan began the discussion by presenting the first case study, which was a press release they did for their client Vibes. Their goal with the press release was to position Vibes’ executives as thought leaders for retail marketers. InkHouse wanted to use data to insert Vibes’ point of view into the discussion about showrooming, which at the time was a hot topic in the press and retail segment.

The results they saw after putting the release over the wire included having media placements in 50+ top-tier outlets including Time and the Wall St. Journal, and the WSJ piece drove the top traffic day of the year.  They had zero coverage before putting the release over the wire, and had a 373 percent bump in coverage over the previous quarter. In addition, the press release had long-term news value – Monaghan noted they are still seeing reporters covering this story today.

There are several reasons why this particular case worked successfully.

  • Timeliness: It was a timely topic and putting out the release before the hype of the holiday season helped immensely.
  • Research-driven content: Also, in the release they included research-driven content; a contrarian point of view; practical strategies for combating showrooming.
  • Using a narrative headline:  The narrative of the headline helped, because they chose to lead with the topic vs. company name. When reporters would search for “showrooming,” they would find the press release.
  • Clear, fact-based writing:  The press release featured easy-to-understand content (i.e., no jargon) and was fact-based.

Building thought leadership

Blog traffic increases KCSA generated by using press releases to promote posts.

Blog traffic increases KCSA generated by using press releases to promote posts.

Donohue provided the second case study, which is on KCSA’s approach building thought leadership for the agency.  They realized they had an opportunity, as the agency generated a great amount of content that they weren’t leveraging.   To get started, the KCSA created a new section on their blog called “Diary of an IPO,” which included the expertise of KCSA’s CEO Jeff Corbin about investor relations. He had just released a new edition of his book, Investor Relations: the Art of Communicating Value, adding a section about investor relations and social media.  To develop that conversation, the agency capitalized on the Facebook IPO, which was underway at the same time.

To promote the new blog section and develop search visibility for Corbin and the agency, KCSA selected  blog posts from “Diary of an IPO” and distributed short abstracts, with links to the full blog post, in the form of press releases, distributing them via PR Newswire’s online press release distribution network.   The message was less like a traditional press release, and was instead more conversational in tone.  KCSA used this tactic repeatedly, capitalizing when was breaking news, and they wanted to again include Corbin’s message into the larger conversation.

Using press releases to drive discovery of blog posts, KCSA has seen blog traffic grow significantly, including a 77% increase in visitors and a 93% increase in page views.

Press releases & the digital marketing funnel

The digital marketing funnel, as described by Fathom.

The digital marketing funnel, as described by Fathom.

Before diving into her case studies, Pflaum first provided a new perspective on how press releases fit into the digital marketing funnel. The teams at Fathom are always looking for ways to loop people through the funnel and convert them into customers.  In their experience, the Fathom team has found find that press releases can really fit into any aspect of the funnel — acquire, convert, and nurture.

At Fathom, the main objective of the press release is to gain online visibility, and they focus the messages on their target audiences.  However, as you’ll see from the three examples Pflaum provided, the applications of press releases – and the outcomes they help achieve – are very different.

Example 1: A Missouri Law Firm (marketing funnel phase: acquire)

The legal search space is difficult to break into and expensive to show up in paid results. The goal of the press releases Fathom issued for this particular client was to help gain online visibility for and drive more traffic to their website.  Using press releases, the team promoted content that was emotional and engaging.  Over the course of this year, the press releases have driven about 500 visitors to the client web site this year, accounting for 1% of their total visitors.  More importantly, the visitors who arrive via press releases are engaged:  the visitors stay on the web site more than a full minute longer (on average) than the site’s usual visitors.

Example 2: ConsumerCrafts (marketing funnel phase: convert)

ConsumerCrafts, an online craft store, needed to increase sales. Fathom used press releases as part of a campaign that promoted Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, as well as other promotions.  In addition to increasing web site traffic, the client also benefitted from a corresponding increase in social interactions.  They’ve even been able to directly attribute revenue to specific press releases.

Example 3: A health care screening company  (marketing funnel phase: nurture)

This Fathom client needed convince customers who had shown interest and were conducting research prior to a purchase that health screenings are a good investment, and overcome negative information was at the top of the search engine results page. Using press releases to promote positive branded content, such as blog posts, earned media and new research, the Fathom team was able to build the visibility and authority of positive websites, profiles and articles to outrank negative articles in the SERPs.

How SEO tactics make press releases convert

The final example was presented by Jive Software’s Jason Khoury.   Jive needed to increase traffic to web sites and app downloads, and they were looking at their press releases as potential sources of visibility for these efforts.   Khoury first explained that the primary goal of press releases should be to drive awareness and education.  However, once someone is reading the message, there is real opportunity to inspire them to take another step, or in marketing lingo, to “convert.”

According to Khoury, the first job was shifting SEO from afterthought to forefront when creating headlines and subheads on their press releases.   Additionally, the Jive team realized it needed to abandon the old-school approach of simply putting a link to the company web site at the bottom of the press release.   New-school tactics Khoury advocates include:

Put a variety of links that serve as calls to action at various points in the release.

SEO terms need to be a key part of the initial story, which means you need to think about where you are putting the keywords while developing the content, namely the headline, subhead and lead paragraph.

Add tracking codes the links you embed in press releases, to connect the content to your company’s to marketing automation systems (meaning the embedded links will have backend code within them.)

Khoury also strongly recommended working closely with your demand generation/SEO marketing counterparts to review the keywords, but he also cautioned against going overboard, warning the audience to not overload the press release with keywords.

Using these tactics, the Jive team has seen a 200% increase in traffic to the web sites they highlight in press releases.

In addition to the slide deck at the top of this post, we also archived the webinar, in which you can hear the presenters discuss their tactical approaches and the results generated in more detail.  We invite you to view the webinar here:New School Press Release Tactics 

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources, and Sarah Skerik, our VP of content marketing.  To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.