Most of the team at SPROUT Content started out in public relations, and we’ve witnessed first-hand how content marketing has influenced the evolution of the press release. Press releases used to be the “go-to tactic” for announcing game changing news, product launches, events and any other information a company wanted to get out to the world. They were sent to pique journalists’ interest and achieve “free” media coverage, with the hope of getting in front of the right target market. With content marketing, the purpose of the press release shifts from soley being a news generator to being a tool for attracting website traffic, increasing search engine rankings and communicating directly to consumers.
Of course, technology plays a big role in this shift too. Instead of emailing, faxing or (gasp!) mailing information directly to editors, companies can now simply distribute information though online channels like blogs and social media. This new way of reaching target markets lets companies self-publish not only press releases, but valuable content like whitepapers, e-books, videos and articles. As companies become their own distributors and publishers, traditional newswire services have more competition, and they are reacting to the shift.
We recently spoke with PR Newswire about a new press release distribution service they are offering called iReach. It’s their “low-cost online press release distribution platform” intended to let companies easily share news through social networks and sites like Yahoo!, MSN and AOL. Before iReach, PR Newswire focused on the traditional PR model of getting news in front of journalist. This new service moves away from the traditional journalist outreach to embrace using releases for SEO, link-building and reaching consumers directly.
While content marketing has changed the role of the press release and distribution channels are to shifting keep up, press releases are still important. Here's why:
Bite-sized news is only a nibble
Twitter creates great snippets, but it doesn't offer full news coverage alone. It's not possible to fit a full product release or other business news into 140 characters. Bite-sized micro-blogging can entice the reader and provide easily quotable snippets for other news articles, but linking to a press release gives the whole story.
Sometimes casual isn’t the right attire
Regardless of Facebook's incredible reach and sharing power, it is a less formal mode of communication that inspires most businesses to take on a more casual tone. While an informal status update can be used as an intro for news info, it's not enough on its own. Facebook is a wonderful way to send a tease, link to a full press release, or ask people to voice their opinion on news that has been released.
There is only one Wall Street Journal
No matter how transparent or large your brand, releasing information on a company blog rarely has the same impact as a headline news story in a major news source like the Wall Street Journal or New York Times. Although companies can be self-publishers, and many journalists watch major company blogs, getting your news releases into the hands of the big media outlets is still necessary for important breaking news.
Are you using new distribution methods for your press releases? Let us know what you're doing and what you've found most successful.