News releases (direct-to-consumer releases) or press releases…what works best for your small business?
Have you ever written or paid someone to write a press release for your small business? Once it was written and distributed to journalists – did you get the results you were looking for? Are any of your customers or potential customers aware of your new product or service because of it? If the answer is no, then maybe you should try a different approach to writing and releasing your small business’s news.
The traditional press release
Press releases date back to the early 1900s, and although the internet has changed the way we distribute news, the overall process of writing and releasing a press release (the type of news, format, distribution, etc.) has mostly stayed the same up to today.
The press release was a way for businesses to spread the word to their customers about their news. They used the media to do this, exclusively releasing this news to journalists or editors. The news had to be significant enough for them to cover it.
When the internet came along, it allowed a company to reach its customers directly. As the internet evolved, it produced more options for companies to engage with their customers, specifically through their website, social media, and email.
Now you can write a press release for your small business, then release it exclusively to your customers, and if the press or journalists pick up on it, even better for your small business. There is no need to rely exclusively on the press to get the word out about your news.
Popularized in David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, news releases, also known as direct-to-consumer releases, are a way for businesses to reach their audience directly. It’s an integral part of an overall content marketing strategy that solves your customer’s problems and brands your small business as a leader and expert in your industry.
Want an in-depth, comprehensive overview of content marketing that solves problems? Click below.
What’s the difference between a press release and a news release?
Press release basics:
- Press releases are only for very important and specific news about a company
- Can be written in a particular format using technical jargon that journalists and reporters understand
- A press release is pitched and distributed to a member of the media (journalists, reporters, editors, etc.)
- They have the decision to share it with the media (newspapers, radio, television, websites, social media, etc.) or not
- If you’re lucky and they do decide to share it, they may edit it, submit as is, or elaborate on it
News release basics:
- News releases don’t have to be about big important news instead, they can be about customer stories and ideas for customer problems
- Written in a format using the language of your customers and keyword focused
- Optimized for search engines
- Include links that drive customers back to your website and blog content
- Incorporate offers with specific calls-to-action
- Distribute your news release by posting on your website, social media, and news release distribution services
- Track the metrics
When do you write a news release for a small business?
An absolute must in any small business is to solve your customer’s problems. So start there:
- A series of videos, blog posts, or an ebook that will be beneficial to your customers
- Stories from your customers
- Different ways your customers are using your products or services
- A new market your products or services are serving
- New catalog or buyer guides for your products or services
Other news release ideas:
- Your company is involved with a charity or social cause
- When your company wins any type of award
- Acquire a new customer
- An upcoming sale (but they don’t usually do as well so be careful)
Written in a format using the language of your customers and keyword focused
- Format the news release using a press release template
- Use jargon your customers understand and use themselves
- Do keyword research and focus on keywords and phrases your customers are searching for
- Add photos
- Optimize for search engines
Include links that drive customers back to your website and blog content
- Use links in your news release that point back to landing pages on your website that can start the sales process for a customer
- You can also link back to blog content or a series of content that is relevant to the press release
- If your press release does get picked up by the media, including links in your news release gives your small business’s website, powerful backlinks that increase your search engine ranking.
Incorporate offers with specific calls-to-action
Along with the links, you need to have specific calls-to-action strategically placed throughout your news release that get your customers to do what you want them to do. Here are a few examples:
- Learn more about what our new service can do for you by going to…
- Get this free ______ at….
- Sign up here to get your free trial of ______
- For more information on this new_____ visit…..
Distribute your news release
Now your press release is done, and you’re ready to publish it. It’s a given that you will post it on your website and spread the word through your social media, but what about reaching out to bloggers in your industry? Local bloggers and bloggers in your niche market may be more open to your news release. Make a list of them and reach out.
Instead of the traditional way of writing a press release for your small business and then trying to pitch it to journalists, try using a news distribution service to get it out on the web. There is usually a small fee for using these services, but by doing it this way, you will get your news release out to hundreds of websites. This also helps your news release get indexed by Google, and people who follow your industry will be alerted as well.
Here are few popular news distribution services:
Track the results
After, your news release has gone out track the metrics and find out where your traffic is coming from. This will give you great insight into where your customers are going on the web for their information.
Make news releases part of your overall content marketing strategy
To get the full benefits of releasing your news to your customers, you need to make it part of your overall content marketing strategy. So first, you will need to create a content marketing strategy for your small business.
Here’s a basic five-step process for doing that:
- Goal: Establish the goal you are after – sales, subscribers, shares, new customers, etc.
- Buyer Persona/ Avatar: Who is your customer? Are there multiple types of customers? Create a buyer persona/ avatar
- Content: Create content that addresses and solves your buyer persona/ avatar’s problem
- Organize and schedule: Create an editorial calendar for your content
- Social Media/ Email: Get the word out using your social media, news releases, and email list
Should you write a press release for a small business?
Sometimes and depending on the news and your industry, you will need to pitch journalists with your press releases. They are valuable in getting the word out. But if you are planning on building a content strategy to solve your customer’s problems and become an industry leader, talk to your customer directly by writing a news release. If you do a good enough job, hopefully, a journalist will cover it, and it will be like writing a press release for your small business.
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