The beauty of content marketing is that every piece of content you create is a potential touch point with your audience—an opportunity to engage them, drive them to your website, and convert them into paying customers. Yet to do so, you need more than just great content. You also have to have a strategy in place for how you are going to distribute that content so that it reaches the right people.
Many marketers underestimate the importance of this piece of the content marketing puzzle. Whether that’s because they focus a disproportionate amount of their time on creating great content or because they incorrectly assume that their audience will automatically reach them through inbound tactics, the result is often the same: Their content doesn’t have the desired impact. Fortunately, making even a small investment of time into understanding how to effectively deliver your content through, for example, the use of news releases and social media, can help ensure that your target audiences discover your content.
Amplifying Messages with a Distribution Strategy
Content distribution is just as important a part of content marketing as the actual content creation. In fact, executing a thoughtful distribution strategy can do a lot more than just amplify your messages and give your content a critical boost straight out of the gate. A good distribution strategy will also allow you to sustain the visibility of those messages over time and propel them—and your brand—deeper into the market so that you reach new audiences.
Developing and executing a content distribution strategy is also important because it can help you from both a search and social sharing perspective. After all, people are more likely to share content that you have actively distributed socially yourself. That sharing generates positive signals that search engines not only detect but could also reward with better rankings, which in turn can lead to more organic search traffic and even more social sharing.
The Role that News Releases Can Play in a Successful Distribution Strategy
One possible solution is to use news releases, which are a helpful tool for distributing key messages about your content to a variety of audiences, including journalists, influencers, consumers, investors, analysts, and prospects. When using news releases, you can go after broad audiences by syndicating them on a combination of leading news and industry websites. You can also go after specific individuals by, for example, developing targeted media lists. As a result, news releases can be a very powerful component of your content distribution strategy.
Yet if you think simply issuing a news release is the answer to all of your content distribution woes, you’re mistaken. The reality is that you’re competing against lots of other content and as such you not only need to make sure that your news releases stand out, but that you’re also supporting them and your overall content distribution strategy appropriately.
Let's first turn our attention to what it means to create a great news release by pointing out some simple best practices that you should always follow. For example, when creating a news release to support your content you need to:
Know your audience
It’s important to get sharply focused and think about whom specifically you want to read your news releases so that you can customize the headlines and messages they contain appropriately. Consider your target audience carefully (maybe it’s leading journalists or maybe it’s "mommy" bloggers), what their pain points are, what specific information they are going to be most interested in, and what tone you need to use to best convey that information. The better you understand your audience, the easier it will be for you to create a news release that resonates with them.
Always have a hook
We are living in the content era, a time when there’s so much content competing for our attention that most of us decide what we are and aren't going to consume in just a second or two. That’s why it’s so important that you make sure that your news releases only contain the most interesting and newsworthy messages about your content so that you grab your audience's attention and get them to read your release and click through to your content.
Keep it simple and specific
As important as it is to have a hook, you also can’t afford to overcomplicate or overburden your news releases with too many messages. Doing so will only water them down and make them less effective. A better approach is to focus on delivering a single specific message to your audience. If you have multiple messages or are targeting multiple audiences, then you may need to create multiple news releases to ensure that you’re communicating well.
Include multimedia assets
Another way to aid in the distribution of your content is to create a variety of smaller related content assets that link to them and then distribute those assets over time. For example, you might consider creating compelling images such as diagrams that show, for example, how a process works, charts that make numbers such as earnings easy to understand, or infographics that help you bring data to life. Another very useful multimedia asset to consider is video, which is perhaps the most effective way to engage your audience. All of these assets can either be embedded into your news releases or housed on separate microsites built to support your content distribution campaign. Although creating them is an extra step, doing so can have a dramatic effect in terms of increasing the visibility of your releases. In fact, according to PR Newswire research, you can increase the visibility of your news releases by 92 percent by adding just a single visual asset. Add in more than one multimedia asset, and the visibility of your release can increase by over 550 percent.
Think about your call(s)-to-action
The whole purpose of issuing a news release is to get your target audience to take some kind of action, which in this case is going to be to check out and share your content. To ensure that happens, you need to have clear calls to action (CTAs). However, to get the best result, limit yourself to just one or two CTAs, both of which should appear toward the top of your release within the first two paragraphs. Don't distract your audience from these CTA by including others, such as unnecessary links to your company’s homepage or other destinations that they don’t actually need to visit.
Social Media Brings another Dimension to Your Distribution Strategy
Both your news release and your overall content distribution strategy will be more successful if they are complemented appropriately through social media. The trick to using it successfully is making sure that you focus your efforts in the right places to get the best result. So, while LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest are all social channels worth considering, factor in each of their respective merits relative to the content that you are trying to promote when making your selection. Content that contains a lot of compelling images, for example, will likely resonate well on Pinterest, while content that is more B2B or career-focused will perform better on LinkedIn.
If you’re interested in garnering earned media, Twitter—one of the most popular platforms among journalists—should absolutely be a part of your social distribution strategy. In addition to tweeting your news releases yourself, make sure that your headline and quotes are a "tweetable" 140 characters or less. You could also consider embedding tweets into your news releases to help stimulate social sharing.
Bringing It All Together with an Actionable Plan
Imagine for minute that you’ve just finished writing a research report about cloud computing that you now need to distribute to a variety of journalists to get some media coverage. In addition to publishing your report to your company’s website, what might an effective content distribution strategy entail?
Here are four relatively simple steps to follow that collectively comprise a very powerful action plan:
Before you launch the report, create some high-value assets to support it such as an infographic that visually conveys some of the data in your report, or a slide deck that captures the key findings. When doing so, make sure that each asset has a clear CTA that drives people back to the report.
When you’re ready to launch the report, send out a news release with your best message so that you can attract journalists’ attention and get some earned media. Your best message might be a key finding, a compelling stat, or a bold assertion. In the process, make sure to embed a link to those high-value assets in the release, which will make it easier for journalists to communicate your messages to others.
Promote the report, the release, and the supporting content assets socially with their own tweets and LinkedIn shares over time, making sure that each one is interesting, unique, and provides value. Assuming your content isn’t time sensitive, this promotion should continue periodically for weeks or even months after the report is published.
Amplify your content further by utilizing other distribution channels, too. For example, you could post that infographic you created on Visual.ly or your slide deck to SlideShare. These sites get millions of visitors every month and will help get your content some additional exposure.
It’s important to note that you don’t want to just take a rinse-andrepeat approach with your strategy by using the same messages over and over. Instead, surface and distribute the right messages to the right audiences and tailor your message to the medium. In other words, the way you communicate to an audience of journalists on Twitter should be different than how you communicate to consumers on Facebook or industry thought leaders on LinkedIn.
Strategic Partnerships Offer a Way Forward
If you are spending time and money to create great content, you should also be doing so to ensure that you’re aggressively distributing and promoting that content. Those who do stand to reap a variety of benefits that extend well beyond just increased page views and could result in a variety of earned media opportunities, including requests for reprints, interviews, and more. Conversely, anyone who doesn’t actively market their content, and relies solely on inbound tactics instead, is at risk of missing the boat.
Fortunately, PR Newswire can help. It not only allows for the distribution of the multimedia news releases that are so important for differentiating yourself in today’s market, it also has a vast network to support your distribution of them, including online, print, and broadcast media outlets, influential journalists and bloggers, Twitter feeds, mobile partners and more than 9,500 websites in its global syndication network. With those capabilities, it becomes much easier to ensure that your news releases will help get your content in front of the right people.
Content distribution is an essential part of content marketing, and one that you want to make sure you’ve got the tools and resources in place to do well.
The key takeaway from all of this is simple. Content marketing is about more than just creating and publishing great content. To ensure that it not only gets consumed, but also garners the earned media that’s often essential to increase brand awareness and demonstrate credibility, you’ve also got to actively market your content.
The question is how do you do so as efficiently and effectively as possible?
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For more than 60 years, PR Newswire has helped PR, corporate and marketing communications, and investor relations professionals 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 their messages to make the most of their communications campaigns and content investments.