News releases provide a way to build awareness for your company or organization. They are an important component of an integrated marketing and communications campaign but they are not advertising. How do they differ from ads? One major difference is that media publish information from news releases at no charge, unlike paid ads, and readers know this. Having your news mentioned within a newspaper, magazine or online article elevates its credibility, since it’s been judged important enough to publish by an objective third party.
“Newsworthy or not?
A newsworthy story has at least one (and probably more) of the following elements:
Timelines – The story contains NEW information (even if it’s about an older product or service).
Impact – The story affects the media’s readers, viewers or listeners.
Uniqueness – The story is different from similar stories and offers a different perspective or new information.
Conflict – The story resolves or involves problems or issues.
Proximity – The story describes events that impact the environment of the targeted readers, viewers or listeners, geographically or otherwise.
Celebrity – The story involves or quotes a famous person such as a politician, business/opinion leader or entertainer.
News releases are best at informing your audience and telling a story about your organization, where advertising can make a compelling sales message. Advertising can make news releases more effective by creating additional brand awareness. Repeated mentions of your company on both the news and advertising sides will further elevate your profile and generate additional new leads over time.
Journalists, customers and prospects are leery of news releases that read like advertisements and are obviously selling something. You run the risk of alienating editors and reporters, and having any future release seen as suspect if you don’t use an objective news-writing style when writing your news releases. With your news releases, make sure there is something truly newsworthy about your announcement.
News releases about a product that has been around awhile without substantial change or “new
news” can only negatively affect your credibility. However, if you have an older product that has been significantly changed or has a new feature or application that is news, then journalists and readers will welcome this information.
Make your online news releases “viral”
The Internet has expanded the impact of the news release with a unique “viral” component that improves the chances that your news will be read by qualified customers and prospects in the form you want. When you provide news and information that your target audience requests and wants to read – information that will enhance their knowledge and help them do their jobs – they’ll be more likely to share your news with their colleagues and co-workers. That’s what triggers the viral component of news releases in the online environment.
In just the past few years, the overall dynamics and the way news and information are shared have changed dramatically because of the Internet. In his latest book World Wide Rave, David Meerman Scott, also author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, writes, “Promote your organization and its products and services by delivering great online information tied directly to your products, services, and ideas (that’s tied to, not touting). Success comes from the fact that people want to share this content with their friends, colleagues, and family members.”
With vertical sites like ThomasNet News® (http://news.thomasnet.com), the news release now reaches customers and prospects directly, bypassing the journalists. RSS feeds, e-newsletters and social media can easily spread your company’s news to your target audiences. Today, most readers of your news release are your target audience. The Internet has provided a channel that circumvents the mainstream media who were the “gatekeepers” of the past – determining what constituted the news and what they would publish to their readers.
This is why news releases are such an important part of your online strategy. When prospective customers search for information, whether they’re searching within ThomasNet News® or through Google, Google News, Yahoo, Yahoo News, Topix.net, MSN or other search sites and news portals, your news release can appear prominently in search results if it includes keywords and phrases prospective customers often associate with your products and services.
When news releases are carefully written with relevant information – including detailed product or service descriptions and keywords and phrases relevant to your target audience – your news can be easily found and, most likely, read by prospective customers. By doing this, you’re allowing your news releases to reach prospects beyond just those that come to your site—and it also allows your news releases to “live” and remain searchable on the Internet far beyond their publishing date.
In the American Express OPEN Forum, Barbara Krause writes,
“Today your release needs to be optimized for the web... Over 80% of online purchases start with a web search (Forrester Research), and online search is the number one source for journalists to obtain additional story information (Bennett & Company). Using search engine optimization (SEO), you can help ensure your news release is easily found by customers, reporters and the robots that crawl the web to deliver search results.”
How to ‘optimize’ your news releases for better results
To optimize your news release, Krause advises:
1. Identify the search terms that will lead customers and reporters to you. Include these phrases (usually two- to four-words long) in your news release.
2. Use key words in the headline and body of your news release – preferably in the first 63 characters of your headline.
3. Hyperlink key words and phrases to your company’s website (“but don’t overdo it”).
4. Use multimedia and link to a YouTube video or Flash demonstration of your product.
Your news releases should also be posted at your website
Often, news releases are the only content that is added from month to month, so be sure to include your news releases on your website. These keyword-rich documents will also help your site to be found on search engines – part of a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Include a live link to your company’s website on all of your news releases
This way, when other search engines pick up your releases, readers can click directly to your site. When applicable, use both a link to your homepage, as well as a link to the page on your site that talks about the product or service in your news. This is called a ‘deep link,’ because it takes a reader directly to the page of interest.
People want to know the information in your news releases
Journalists, customers and prospects view new product and service information as vital content. That is why new product/service news sections of industry websites and trade magazines are among the most highly read and requested information.
People rely on new product news for:
• Ideas on design, development, and manufacturing
• Support of sourcing and procurement choices
• Staying abreast of market changes
• Keeping tabs on what their competitors are doing
According to the ThomasNet Industrial Purchasing Barometer (IPB) survey users shared the importance of this information in performing their jobs:
• 77% of industrial buyers say product news is important to them in their job
• 70% of buyers look online for new industrial product news
• 73% of buyers would like an easy way to have new industrial product news delivered right to their inbox.
Journalists specifically look for well-written product news releases to meet reader demand and generate product news stories in their publications. This is why product and service news releases should be an important part of your marketing and communications mix.