Friday, December 10, 2010

PR 2.0 - Use Social Media to Boost Readership of News Releases

Headline: Press Releases are Dead ... Again

Reality: Press Releases have evolved, and - as "news releases" - are alive-and-well on the Internet. News releases can work for you - especially if you support the releases with a full-court press of social media outreach support.

Press releases - a combination of news story and press pitch - weren't "new" when Ivy Lee was creating what evolved into the PR 1.0 that reigned supreme for nearly a century. Done well, they have long served to alert reporters, editors, producers and show bookers about stories and sources. It was widely reported in the '90s that a full 80% of all newspaper articles were based on or supported by press releases and the PR people who wrote them.

In the century that press releases have been useful PR tools, their demise has been pronounced more times than I can count. Every time the pundits gather solemnly for the Press Release memorial service, some innovative in-the-field PR pro figured out a new way to use them to get the word out for clients or employers.

As I noted in my premiere blog-post here, while there remains some utility for "press releases" designed to interest reporters, editors and other media gatekeepers, the real future for releases lies in the hands of PR pros who have transformed media-focused "press releases" into consumer-oriented "news releases." When a release is placed online via a wire service, it can be found by consumers directly, via key-word searches. Those "news releases" should be written for the reader, not the media gatekeeper (though if you can accomplish both, you've really got something!). However, under the New Rules PR 2.0. approach, this is just the beginning.

Here's how to promote a news release and get the most out of it - starting with the best of the traditional, then moving on to the New Rules techniques:

1. Develop something you want to say that will make sense to the consumers you are trying to reach. Remember David Meerman Scott's advice - tell what your readers what they want to know, not what you want to tell them.

2. Write it tight, interesting journalistic style. Avoid hackneyed "press release" style - don't write to please the clients, write to engage your readers. Blogs are often personally stylistic - and that's appropriate ... for blogs. But both "press" releases and "news" releases benefit from being ready for publication - that journalistic style I mentioned.

3. Place this news release for consumers via one of the major wire services - make sure the service you choose has agreements that guarantee placement on major Internet news aggregators (see my first blog in this series - - for details on this). Use the keyword function to attract readers seeking your information.

4. Reinforce this placement by posting your release on free-placement sites. A current list is available - drop me a note at These free placements reach people and also assist with SEO.

These are the conventional press/news release placement strategies, and while "traditional," they still work. But this is just the start. Now it's time to unleash the social networking opportunities now available.

a. Post the release on your Facebook page, then advise all your "friends" that it's available. Invite them to check it out AND invite them to tell their own friends.

b. Mention the release on all the discussions you follow on Linkedin - this also applies to more "traditional" online discussion forums and list-serv discussion groups.

c. Tweet it - send the URL to the release online to all your followers, and encourage them to retweet it to their own followers.

d. Blog it - write a blog about the content of the release (don't "blog" the release itself, but the subject matter) using the more personal and stylistic format available to blogs

e. Promote the blog -tweet it, mention it on Facebook and Linkedin - repost the blog on your Facebook site ... in short, use all the same tools you used to promote the release to promote the blog covering the release's topic

In short, unleash the power of the social network/social media to promote the concept and content of the release, as well as the release itself. In this way, you are going to reach important target audiences with your message, even if your release isn't picked up by the media. Getting your release picked up by the media is the topic for another blog.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advice to a Student - Using New Rules 2.0 to Find a Job

A graduate student recently asked me for some advice - all the entry-level jobs seemed taken, and he was concerned lest he lose out and join the ranks of the chronically-unemployed. I suggested he use the PR New Rules 2.0 approach to help him out ... blending innovative "traditional" with the best of the New Rules 2.0. Here's what I advised him:

1. Freelance - offer your services to tight-staffed organizations that need skilled temps during overflow periods (how to reach out to them using 2.0 rules is below)

2. Volunteer - work for non-profits with the proviso that you're allowed to present your work to top management and/or the board - get seen. I once hired a guy (I had 300 applicants and he'd gotten lost in shuffle) after I saw him volunteering working the media at a non-profit luncheon meeting. The key to this is to find groups that will allow you to work at above-entry-level and to position yourself for visibility (some NFP staffers want to hide the volunteers and take credit for themselves, and working there is a waste of career-building time)

3. Intern - while you're still a student, get internships that will allow you to function at more-than-entry level and build both your portfolio and network

4. Use New Rules of PR to create a social media persona that will attract attention to you. Read David Meerman Scott's 2nd Edition New Rules of PR and Marketing and anything recent by Seth Godin to get a better handle on how to do this. But here are a few keys:

4a. Create a concept or position in which you believe you can both add value and legitimately make a name for yourself.

4b. Create an email sig-file that captures who you are in the context of this environment/niche.

4c. Find something specific - perhaps something in the news - to bring your self-conception into sharp focus

4d. Write something on this and get it published - a 3rd-party ezine is ideal, but your own blog is OK, too

UPDATE: Crisis PR Management Guru Jonathan Bernstein ( Start a blog in which you demonstrate your competence in your market niche, and add to it on a very regular basis. Learn how to optimize that blog for search engines.

4e. Tweet it and Facebook it and promote it in every way you can (posting to email list-servs comes to mind) to get the blog out there, to get it commented on, to get it retweeted and spread around.

4f. Pitch gatekeepers to the jobs you want, using the above as leverage and a reason for them to consider you.

4g. Do the interview and blow it out of the water

4h. Follow-up. You may want to blog about it and tweet about it (but be careful - this will get back to the employer. You may want to contact your references and have them contact the prospective employers directly. I once hired a candidate (I was with a lobbying organization, Tennessee Hospital Association) who had her Congressman (whom she'd staffed for) write her an unsolicited letter of praise. Since we were in the business of courting Congressmen like him, and since she was already in the Top-3, that all but nailed it that she'd get the job.

Note, I'm in the process of doing #4 myself - tweeting (@nedbarnett) everyday providing PR Pro tips on how PR works, and blogging here (something I'll be doing more of). I'm carving out a niche for myself in the realm of bridging the apparent and perceived (but not real) gap between traditional PR/Marketing and New-Rules PR & Marketing.

Beware the expert who doesn't practice what he preaches - but in this case, I'm doing exactly what I'm advising. So find yourself a niche and make yourself an expert in your own right.

FYI - My next blog-post will be on how I used both traditional PR/media relations and New Rules social networking - including steps indicated here - to land a series of five interviews on Neil Cavuto's program.

Let me know what you think ...

Friday, November 26, 2010

News Releases - The New "Online Advertising"

Note - this blog has been edited for clarity based on reader comments - thanks, Andy!

I've been reviewing David Meerman Scott's excellent 2nd (2010) edition of his seminal "The New Rules of Marketing & PR" and was impressed by his view that while "press releases" should continue to target news media gatekeepers (editors, producers, reporters), "news releases" should be targeted to information (or product/service) users, rather than to the traditional news media gatekeepers. He makes that distinction in naming, and I think it's helpful in understanding, how the role of these releases has changed.

This role--change is at the heart of what I call "PR-Marketing 2.0," and in this (as in most marketing and PR concepts), David and I are of one accord. For more than five years now, I've been encouraging clients to embrace the use of "news releases" as a way of getting "the word" posted on the many news websites - those that (under contract) republish releases placed via BusinessWire and other wire services - sites such as Yahoo, Marketwire and a host of other news (and news release) aggregators.

Some media will occasionally pick up a well-written wire-distributed press release - one which contains real news, and turn it into an article, or use it to justify an interview-based feature. However, I find I get more placement success by emailing specific editors, reporters and producers directly - or by picking up the phone and pitching them. But wire-distributed news releases do get picked up and used by those online news aggregators, and when people key-word search, they will find those news releases.

After reading David's insights, I had one of my own. News releases placed over one of the major wire services - the ones that, via contract, feed content to the big online news sites - are nothing short of a new online advertising medium. Without quite intending to, these wire services have become a fee-based way of getting your news out, through the Internet, to news-reporting places where potential clients or customers can find that news.

Here's what I mean. In traditional advertising, your ad-buy guarantees that your message (in print or broadcast form) is placed in a certain medium, generally at a specific time and often in a specific location. However, in traditional PR, you were not buying a message placement - instead, you were buying a means of reaching out to a news media gatekeeper, asking for coverage and using the news value of the release as justification. If you used a wire service such as BusinessWire, you were increasing your odds of being picked up, but you were not buying placement.

Today, when you place a release on BusinessWire or one of it's competitors, you are buying the placement of your message - not only in a direct feed to reporters and editors, but also in a direct feed to Yahoo Business and Marketwire and all the other sites that contractually place releases provided by the wire service. You are, in essence, buying an ad on Yahoo and all the other sites.

For as little as $300 on BusinessWire (and less on some of their competitors), you get a very controlled, up-to-400-word message placed in some very prestigious and well-traveled websites. So if you're following David's recommendation to put out news releases on the Web to reach consumers directly, then - when you use one of the wire services - you are, in essence, buying a guaranteed placement in specified locations and at specified times. In short, advertising. A different kind of advertising (more like an advertorial than a traditional print ad), but still an ad.

When you compare the relatively nominal costs of a BusinessWire placement to the relatively astronomical costs of an advertisement in any mainstream medium, this becomes a huge bargain. One ad on an ABC/CNN/Fox News program costs thousands of dollars and is here and gone in 15 or 30 seconds. But, a much longer message placed via BusinessWire lives on up to 150 news-aggregator websites for 30 days, 90 days or an infinite number of days, there to be found by any Google, Bing or other key-word search.

In the world of PR-Marketing 2.0, a traditional low-cost PR distribution tactic has evolved into an incredibly cost-effective targeted-consumer advertising tactic, making use of the way that press release distribution wire services ensure that their clients generate coverage through their news-feed contracts with Yahoo and hundreds of other other online news aggregators.

I'll be interested in your take on this new "advertising medium" and how it can be made to work for you, your clients or your employers. Thanks.

Ned Barnett - ned (at) barnettmarcom (dot) com -

Thanks for the inspiration: David Meerman Scott -