It’s no secret that the PR industry is undergoing a fundamental change and PR professionals are under greater pressure to evolve themselves and their techniques in order to maintain their competitive edge. With the proliferation of the Internet and the Social Web, traditional tools used to communicate are facing a similar dilemma. Are social media news releases (SMNRs) more effective than traditional press releases? Some argue that press releases are dead!
According to a recent study by HubSpot, an Internet marketing firm, when comparing the results of social media releases and traditional releases, the traditional release format performed much better than SMNRs as they are less syndicated and were not as effective in terms of getting out your message across a broader target audience.
To better understand what other PR professionals think and whether they agreed with this notion of press releases being more effective than SMNRs, I took this question to a colleague and friend of mine, Carol Hanko of Lois Paul and Partners. She recalled a conversation with a very large client of hers who uses both. Their client experienced significant Web traffic spikes when they used the social media templates (and she’s seen this on a consistent basis) than traditional releases.
What do you say? From a real world experience, I have to say we’re one of those companies that has taken a hybrid approach to levering our communication tools. We use both for several reasons: for the media to communicate our news and releases, increase our SEO, and engage the buyer personas. We use a social media template to distribute our news around campaign announcements, product announcements and webinar announcements, etc. and embed social media links to our various channels that are relevant to the news itself such as YouTube channel, etc. to generate Web traffic and search engine optimization.
However, when we package corporate level announcements, we tend to go the traditional route with either BusinessWire or MarketWire. Since using our social media templates across PRWeb, we’ve had tremendous success. Our Web traffic increased significantly and our ability to reach key bloggers and influential online business publications have been exceptional. What we’ve found to be great with SMNRs is the ability to embedd multi-media components such as your corporate blog, Facebook, whitepapers, podcasts, or YouTube channel to get it in the hands of the right people and the audience (media, analysts, industry bloggers, and buyer personas). What’s important for companies that are still grappling with this is that they need to understand who their target audience is and what they want to accomplish with their news.
Brian Solis, a leading social media expert and blogger, wrote a blog on this recently, stating that press releases are finally tasting reinvention as it transforms to chase the new channels of influence as well as adapt to the rapidly shifting behavior of content discovery, consumption and sharing. Whether you decide to do the traditional route, take good advice on how to evolve your press releases while experimenting with new tools to see what they generate for you.
A few tips to evolve your techniques. Why? Let’s face it, with your communication tools, you’re hoping to do a few things – reach the reporters and analysts, gain traffic on your Web, target key online pubs and blogs as well as your target buyers. Whatever the reason may be, one simple rule applies whether it’s SMNRs or news releases – KISS – keep it simple stupid.
- Keep it simple stupid – tell the story in the headline and support it in the subtitle. Take the opportunity to tell a story. The top line message should be right at the top so reporters don’t have to read your entire gobbly gook to understand what you’re trying to communicate. They can get the story at a first glance.
- Link it – let’s face it. Everything is on the Web today so if you have Webinars, product news, landing pages, etc., link it so you create a single resource page under SMNR or news release. Also, if you have a great blog post on this, link it.
- Enrich your multi-media channels – your communication tool is designed to reach a broad audience so why not take advantage of this across various news outlets by promoting your multi-media channels. For example, take a look at one of our SMNR and embed videos, ebooks, whitepapers, or podcast at the bottom to enrich it further: The Salvation Army Protects The Integrity Of Data And Global Brand With Lumension’s Data Protection Solution.
- Embed, Embed, Embed – if you have a YouTube channel, one great thing about SMNR is that you can embed videos (on your YouTube channel) directly to your release or at the bottom so readers can automatically click on the video to view the content. This is a great way to build YouTube views but also create awareness around your multi-media channels.
- SEO – again, today it’s all about the Web and driving traffic to your Website is becoming a top priority of many businesses today, including mine. The tool is not only for lead generation, it’s about integrating its value across the entire marketing function (advertising, PR, social media, lead generation, etc.) and mapping it to the company’s business goals. Work with your marketing folks to understand key search terms and include these terms in your external content tohelp optimize Web searches – key terms that are relevant to the news you’re putting out there. Not to mention, include these key search terms across media pitches to remain consistent.
As Carol puts it, this is an ongoing debate but the verdict is still out. In my point of view, it’s about understanding the full benefits of what SMNRs can offer versus a traditional release and taking a hybrid approach to test out what works best for you.
For more on social media templates, go to: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/—816994.html
Yes folks, the verdict is still out! Not sure if we will get this answered anytime soon, but I strongly urge you to look into taking a hybrid approach and determine the results for yourself. What do you think?