Content distribution and promotion can be intimidating. Figuring out your brand’s objectives and analyzing vendors can be a complex job. That’s where press release and content distribution providers come in. There are many marketplace options from which to choose, and they vary widely in what they offer and how well they can help achieve your objectives.
It’s important to have a clear idea of what you need before you get too far into the buying process – and well before you start comparing vendors. Otherwise you may focus on products and providers that miss the mark, instead of identifying avenues that will help you achieve your marketing and communications goals.
Let this be your guide to asking the right questions so that you can pick the content distribution and promotion provider that will work best for your brand.
Q: What is the desired outcome of your communications campaign?
Earned Media Pickup: Third party coverage reinforces and authenticates the story your brand is trying to tell. Choose a content distribution service that has a proven track record with media and a history of providing valuable news and information. Make sure the provider offers direct delivery into editorial systems and newsrooms of major media organizations. Ideally a service should also connect brands and industry experts together with journalists so they can write compelling stories together
Online Visibility: Your content distribution service should enable your brand to reach the websites that matter most to you. However, it’s not just about the numbers, but rather, are you targeting the right placements? Big name sites such as Yahoo!, MarketWatch, Business Journals, etc., attract a large viewership and increase the chance that people will see your content, while niche sites reach highly engaged information seekers. Also consider who else you want to reach: blogs, broadcast media, news and information services, newspapers, portals, trade publications and investor sites.
Conversion and New Audience Acquisition: You probably have content promotion in your own channels – website, blog, social – well thought out, but is that enough when your goal is to acquire new prospects and contacts? Sharing your story across multiple channels – including press release distribution – can get your message in front of additional professionals and consumers. Your ideal content promotion partner will have a network, content and targeting options that will help your story be discovered – and be acted on – by the audiences you seek.
Brand Engagement: How does your service enable you to share your content on social channels? Not only should there be social sharing tools built right into the pages hosting your news releases, but many services also offer brands an opportunity to engage with a broader audience through curated social media feeds.
Compliance & Shareholder Confidence: Meet regulatory requirements by delivering to all disclosure points simultaneously and securely through your service. This is a must for publicly traded companies who need to deliver news directly to financial information institutions and systems. Your provider should also have a rigorous vetting process and maintain strict guidelines and security procedures.
PR Newswire ranks #1 with journalists and bloggers as the most trusted news source1 and has 35,000 active PR Newswire for Journalists community members.
Q: Who is your intended audience?
Pinpoint Your Geographical, Industry-Specific and Demographic Goals
Local, regional and national markets: Whether you want to gain targeted attention across a wide spectrum with a national audience or target your message through a narrow, local lens, your content distribution service should offer a solution to match your requirements.
Target specific industries: If you want to target a niche, industry-specific market, consider the targeting capabilities that a service provides. You should be able to specify that you want to reach journalists in a certain sector or send your news releases to online websites that cover industry-specific markets.
Increase search visibility, conversion rates and web traffic: Boost your brand’s discoverability and maximize results for your campaigns. The content distribution service’s own website is key to getting your content to show up in search engines. Make sure that the site has a high page rank, is search-engine optimized and receives a good amount of visitors.
Multicultural markets: You’ve readied your message to reach your target audiences– but you know there are more specific targets to pursue. Your service should offer a diverse collection of distribution options that reach specific ethnic audiences, including Hispanic, African American, North American Chinese and Native American.
International: Can your service look beyond the borders to meet your brand’s international communications needs such as local language distribution and reaching key influential outlets by country and industry? Professional translations should also be offered as many media outlets will only recognize news written in their native language. Your service should be a knowledgeable partner to help you navigate these international waters.
Culture and demographics: Meet your brand’s needs by promoting your press releases to specific demographic segments, by selecting a content distribution vendor that can target by ethnicity, age, gender, lifestyle and religion.
Content Distribution Boosts Results
A recent case study demonstrated a brand’s content distribution results through PR Newswire: increased revenue, brand awareness and 260% more website traffic delivery than all other paid marketing sources combined, including PPC, digital and other advertising revenues.2
Q: What features are important to you?
Customizable, Interactive Content: Customizable content options that wow – it’s more than just rendering hyperlinks these days. Is your news release available in a web ready HTML file that’s easy for websites to read? Can you include subheadlines, bullets, anchor text, and bolding to make your message visually interesting?
Multimedia: Can you embed photos and videos and reach distribution points to tell a highly compelling story in a visually engaging way? Make your story stand out and build deeper connections with your audiences by promoting multimedia content – videos, photos, infographics and audio clips – proven to increase views by 1.4X with images and 2.8X with videos*.
Additional Services: From media monitoring and targeting platforms, video production and strategic media placement, through media rooms, IR sites and international distribution – make sure your vendor has the capabilities to support your brand’s current marketing and communications programs and future strategic needs as you grow.
Q: What are your service level expectations?
Professional Editorial Guidance: Consider the credentials of the team that will help you polish your news release. Are they degreed professionals with industry experience? Some questions to ask:
Do staff proofread and evaluate the content under standardized quality guidelines?
Do they offer advice on search optimization and best practices?
Can they provide in-depth content analysis and feedback?
User Experience: The service should offer a secure, online easyto- use submission process. Consider whether a secure online portal and account management tools are offered to help you optimize the release process. For example, can you preview and approve a copy of your content before it goes out? Can you schedule your press release for a specific time?
Hours: If your brand needs assistance outside of normal business hours, consider a service that stays open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Crisis communicators can attest to the value of having an always-available staff on hand.
PR Newswire’s expert Customer Content Specialists are available around the clock to offer editorial guidance and assistance – including during a crisis.
Q: How can you evaluate success?
Reporting: You want a service that can help you measure the success of your brand’s content promotion and distribution efforts. Analytics should be part of the package, providing actionable information and valuable ROI to help you gain insights and parse data by release and account performance. See where your content appeared online, how many views it received and what organizations are interested. Uncover the audience that viewed your content and track engagement with click-throughs, shares, tweets and downloads. Export data and analyze your success so that you can gain insights on current performance data and plan future campaigns.
As you enter the decision-making process, have a clear goal in mind when choosing between services. Determine what you want your desired outcome to be – it could be earned media pickup, online visibility, brand engagement, audience acquisition, or a combination. Articulating your goals at the start will provide a framework for evaluating press release and content distribution services.
ABOUT THE EXPERT: ANNEMARIA NICHOLSON
Annemaria Nicholson is the Senior Manager of Content at Cision where she drives the overall content strategy and multichannel promotion for North America. Her innovative content programs helped the PR Newswire brand place as a finalist at the 2016 Content Marketing Institute Awards. Annemaria leads a team of content marketers focused on a revenue-first, customer-centric integrated approach, optimizing a mix of paid, earned and owned channels to engage and inspire audiences. Follow her @Annemaria_N or connect via LinkedIn.
PR NEWSWIRE SOLUTIONS
PR Newswire’s portfolio of services and solutions helps communicators of all stripes achieve their communications goals – from building awareness with new audiences and gaining media pickup, to managing reputation and inspiring investor confidence – by sharing, targeting, tracking and enhancing your unique content to make the most of your investment. Our offerings include:
Content Distribution & Promotion – Drive conversions, acquire new audiences and generate earned media pickup by sharing your news and content via our industry leading, multichannel content syndication network. Share your message broadly with US and international audiences, or target by region, industry or demographics.
Multimedia Distribution – Engage consumers, investors and the media with the rich, compelling content that they are all hungry for: videos, photos, infographics, images.
SocialPost – Boost the visibility and discoverability of your news in social media channels by leveraging our curated Twitter newsfeeds.
Online Member Center – Your gateway to the industry’s largest content distribution network, with features that help you enhance, target and evaluate your message. Access includes Media Studio, where you can upload and manage multimedia, and Visibility Reports, where you can monitor distribution, traffic, audience information and engagement results.
1. 2013 analysis by a leading professional services firm
* PR Newswire analysis of 2015 press releases