For better or worse, press releases are a staple of every public relations toolkit. Used incorrectly, they can be the bane of an editor’s inbox: when the “news” isn’t really newsworthy, when companies take a shotgun approach to the media list, and when media outlets are bombarded with irrelevant information (does the New York Times really care about your software company’s latest technology partnership?).
Used properly, however, a press release is a powerful communications tool that can help create sales opportunities, drive revenues and much more – all of which is underscored by several client examples from the past few months.
Just before this month’s NRF (National Retail Federation) show, for example, one of our retail technology clients, an NRF exhibitor, received a call from a midsized apparel retailer, requesting a meeting at the show. The impetus? The retailer had just seen a press release announcing that another retailer (one of our client’s customers) had received a major industry award for successfully implementing our client’s software. If our client’s software could provide a competitive advantage, this retailer didn’t want to be left out in the cold. The press release opened a door, the meeting went well, and sales discussions are continuing.
In a similar vein, this fall we announced that a well-known consumer electronics brand had tapped another of our clients for a major technology initiative – and within a few days, our client received an inquiry from another brand looking for a similar solution. That inquiry has led to ongoing sales meetings, and at this point, a deal looks probable. If so, the revenue from that one customer will likely cover the cost of our PR services for many years to come.
Two clients, two press releases, two potential new customers for our clients. Not bad as anecdotal examples from the past three months – but there are many more reasons why the press release continues to demonstrate its value as part of every well-rounded PR program. Here are a few:
SEO – When released on a news distribution circuit (Ketner Group typically uses BusinessWire), press releases can generate numerous links that improve Search Engine Optimization and drive traffic to your website. Last year, for example, one of our clients was the first to introduce software for a particular type of compliance testing – and at one point, 7 of the top 10 results for this term directed users to our client’s site. Nearly every one of the links was from a press release. (This is just one of the many ways that PR can help boost SEO effectiveness – but that’s a topic for a future Kblog post.)
Continuing coverage – Press releases alert editors to important information about your company – new products, executive hires, strategic partnerships, customer announcements. And in turn, this can lead to feature stories, case studies and other high-value articles (for an example, check out: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/111909-nonprofit-supercomputing.html).
Market momentum – Companies that continually announce compelling news and build strong, trusted relationships with media and analysts – generate market momentum. PR is inherently more credible than paid media placement, allowing companies to build positions of thought leadership and brand equity, rise above the fierce noise of competition, and gain market share. And at the end of the day, that’s the goal of every PR professional – and the underlying motive for the most effective press releases and PR campaigns.< >