Social media has reinvented the press release.
What began as a gradual evolution has resulted in a topdown makeover for greater reach, utility and impact.
PR professionals now regularly leverage press releases on social channels. There is plenty of technique involved—and continuing to emerge—as communicators learn and refine their approaches based on the powerful feedback loop social media provides.
The upshot is that press releases bring the imprimatur of their brands to bear in entirely different ways with new social skills. They can help growth-stage companies and their PR firms achieve critical business objectives cost effectively.
REMEMBER THE OLD-SCHOOL, STANDARD-ISSUE PRESS RELEASE?
Flash forward to the new press release:
It doesn’t look the same. Best practice in the social era involves embedding photos, videos and infographics—all of which can increase interest and sharing in social media.
It doesn’t sound the same. PR professionals have rewritten the press release style guide for social uptake, emphasizing tweetable headlines and quotes, better storytelling and more conversational language over jargon or terminology understood mainly by industry insiders.
Its range of subjects has expanded. Press releases now highlight “owned media,” such as white papers, executive blogs and other content marketing pieces—right in the mix with more classic announcements of products, promotions and results.
Its audience has changed. The ratio of clients, prospects,consumers and investors continues to grow relative to journalists— a good thing in a changing information landscape in which more audiences are open to more sources in addition to “traditional” media.
Its “shelf life” has increased. PR professionals socialize various angles of their press release over time, across different networks and channels.
It has a new sense of purpose. No longer only a tool to get media coverage— though clearly this is still important—the press release today also supports goals such as increasing brand exposure, capturing leads and driving traffic to the company web site.
Social means strategic
Simply put, social media has made today’s press release more strategic—especially for companies and their agencies trying to create a brand, make a mark and build a customer base.
You can use social media as a way to find, listen to and better understand your audiences, paving the way for targeted, pitch-perfect messaging.
Using these insights, you can shape and grow your ideal audiences, reaching out more frequently (and cost effectively) to trigger a wider range of responses.
Think beyond the episodic practice of issuing releases only in the best of times (winning an industry award) or the worst of times (crisis management). Planned strategically, in combination with content marketing and social media programs, press releases can help you to remain a relevant resource and consistent voice, and keep your brand in front of your audiences.
Five tactics for socializing your press release
The challenge is to get it right. Participating interactively in the right social channels for your business and your goals sets you up to be current—on industry issues, consumer buzz or top influencers. From there, the benefits can begin to mount in an ongoing dialogue that can take place in your own or influencers’ feeds, in discussion groups, around Twitter hashtag streams and elsewhere. Harres highlights five ways press releases fit into that continuous conversation:
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
This underpinning of any effective communication strategy is supercharged in social media, which acts as a direct feedback loop on your brand, as audiences “like,” comment and retweet and as you digitally track trends and sentiments in your market. Listening as a continuous process enables refining and adjusting your press release strategy.
2. GO BEYOND THE HEADLINE
Write your press release so that the CEO quote, significant details and links to further information are also tweetable— and post them over time in your audiences’ favorite social channels.
3. WRITE FOR YOUR AUDIENCE
Listening also reveals the current vernacular of your buyers and other audiences. Using their keywords in your press releases will extend their reach and impact, given the predominance of web search and social search, while keeping your social presence more natural and conversational.
4. HONE YOUR HEADLINE
The pressure on headline writing is higher than ever. You need to present your information-overloaded audiences with a message of note and impact. In social terms, that also means clearly teeing up the story in about 100 characters or less for Twitter. You should also consider that search engines will cut off your headline at around 60 characters.
5. DELIGHT YOUR AUDIENCE
Make your release compelling to your audiences, including need-to-know business insights or captivating consumer tips and, especially, visuals—all readily sharable via embedded click-to-tweet buttons.
Social media is a growing sphere for resource-constrained businesses to master. An increasing number of tools are available to help you do so intelligently and with the greatest impact—across devices and platforms—while targeting audiences’ preferred social networks.
PR Newswire can also help a growing firm achieve its communication goals. Sharing a “social ready” release (engaging headline, tweetable quote, prominent share icons, embedded click-to-tweet buttons and rich media) through our extensive content distribution network starts to drive engagement and inspire interaction. Adding SocialPostTM spreads your news to followers of PR Newswire’s industry-specific Twitter accounts.
Making a measurable impact in social circles
Companies and their PR firms want results from their communication efforts and are keen to track them, which is another of the press release’s growing strengths in the social era.
Social media empowers whole new levels of measurement of individual releases, the conversations around and overall perceptions of your brand. Now, not only can you know how many people have viewed a release, but social measures including clicks-to-tweet, sharing, comments and traffic back to your web site can help you understand and engage your audiences on a deeper level.
In an increasingly social world, with measurable results, the modern press release can get you in front of the right audiences with messages they care about. Once you get their attention, keep it. Smooth out any spikiness in your brand presence in social media with a press release strategy that mixes company news and alerts about your compelling new content—on an ongoing basis.
Sharing a “social ready” release (engaging headline, tweetable quote, prominent share icons, embedded click-to-tweet buttons and rich media) through PR Newswire’s extensive content distribution network starts to drive engagement and inspire interaction.
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