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.

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