Audiences are continuing to fragment. The explosion in TV channels, radio stations and magazines, combined with Tivo, the Web, and iTunes has made it possible for everyone to live the long tail dream. To create for themselves a hyper-targeted reality where they watch, listen and read precisely the things that reflect their personalized tastes and world view.
Nearly every marketing tactic of note in the last 10 years has shared one common core concept…targeting.
- Search engine optimization
- Paid search engine advertising (PPC)
- Email marketing (segmentation is all the rage)
- Behaviorally targeted banner ads
- Addressable TV ads via set-top boxes and Tivo
- Personal URLs (PURLS) and massively customized direct mail
But yet, the public relations industry continues to rely on a keystone that is inherently untargeted…the press release.
Social Media Killed the Press Release
If you accept that targeted marketing is effective marketing, why do you continue to send the exact same press release to dozens (hundreds) of reporters? Why are you using “wires” that are the PR equivalent of spam email? Are PR professionals unable to devote the time necessary to change, or do they just not know any better?
There is a better way. It’s based on quality and relationships, not quantity. It requires “putting the public back in public relations” (as Brian Solis passionately and forthrightly states in his new book)
Cold Turkey. 6 Steps to Breaking Your Press Release Addiction
1. Recognize You Have a Problem
Admission is always the first step toward recovery. Understand that press releases generally don’t work, are expensive, and that you can and should do something to change.
2. Change Your Timelines
One of the historical advantages of press releases is that you could build a distribution list (or use those curated by the wires) and deliver your information to all recipients quickly. But, if those recipients have either been fired (see the Papercuts blog for the latest tally of reporter layoffs in the U.S. – 8,484 at time of writing), or do not care enough about your subject to read your release, why bother?
Thus, I propose this rule of thumb. Unless it’s breaking news, give yourself and your PR team at least 60 days to get something rolling. No more of this weekly press release nonsense.
3. No Release Before Relationship
The reason you’ll need at least 60 days, is that I suggest you never pitch a journalist (or blogger) without first making contact. And not just a “hey, I have a GREAT story for you” email, but rather communication that demonstrates that you actually understand and care about the writer’s work. A thoughtful blog comment. An introductory tweet.
And then, NO BULK COMMUNICATIONS. If you think a journalist/blogger would be interested in your pitch, approach them individually. Think who, not how many.
4. Think Multi-Media
Narrative is dying. Articles are getting shorter, and include more related content – including photos and videos. If your story doesn’t have strong, succinct visuals (and preferably video that can be easily embedded) you’re at a disadvantage. Use PitchEngine to easily aggregate your story and related multi-media into one, easy-to-distribute location.
5. Be Search Smart
If you aggregate your content on PitchEngine or elsewhere, and when you succeed in getting a journalist/blogger to cover your story, it’s about a 99% certainty that it will be picked up by search engines.
This is the public relations equivalent of a security camera in a retail store. If people know they are being recorded, they are unlikely to shoplift. But even though we all know that Google is the most important reporter in the world, many (most) public relations efforts are not using keyword research and optimized word choice to maximize search results.
Get yourself a Wordtracker account. Teach yourself how to use it. When you talk about your story angle, use the precise search terms you would like included – those that have maximum SEO benefit to you and your client.
6. Track Success
Because your content is likely to be passed around (either by you or by others once journalists/reporters write your story), give yourself a fighting chance at measuring success. use a tracking URL like one from BudURL to determine how often your content has been clicked. Use Google Alerts or tracking from a social media monitor to find all the retweets and secondary and tertiary blog coverage. With a little digging, you can create reports that show the full impact of your “PR without a press release” initiative.
Are you ready to repent?
(photo by Jamesdale10)