Tag Archives: Press Release

7 ways PR can drive new sales for brands

Driving_BMWMove over sales jockeys and marketing mavens, PR can teach you a thing or two about how to drive new sales. Just because it’s a challenge to measure and doesn’t have a lead gen quota attached to it, doesn’t mean PR isn’t softening up the market and delivering some ripe leads into the sales funnel.

Here are some ways I have seen PR impact a company’s sales, all the while improving a brand awareness, likability and influence.

Press releases: many businesses think press releases are only used to send out to media outlets and share through distribution services like PRweb.com. One IT services company sent a press release to its customers and prospects informing them of a new service offering and it generated three new projects. While press releases are not technically a sales tool they can act as an indirect sales pitch by triggering interest for a new product or service among customers and prospects.

Media placements: getting the media to cover you in hyper-local news outlets or picked up in trade publications can reach a very motivated audience with your call-to-action, be it for an upcomoing holiday, new product launch or big event happening in your city – think SXSW, X Games Austin or F1.

Product reviews: a review of a product, restaurant or new mobile app can create incredible demand resulting in more sales or downloads.

Listicles: get your restaurant, app, winery, etc. on a “Top 10” list in any number of online sites ranging from hyperlocal versions of Thrillist and Easter or national ones like Mashable and Inc. Even the Austin Business Journal gets in on the action with its annual Fast 50, which celebrates the 50 fastest growing private companies in Austin. Listicles are becoming increasingly popular among media outlets – the media’s equivalent to junk food – because they are relatively simple to do and drive website traffic.

Social network: customers are paying attention to brands online through the big three social networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Newer ones like Instagram and Pinterest are catching up fast. Even newer ones like SnapChat and WhatsApp are on the cusp of connecting brands to customers. Each platform is a way to engage with customers and prospects representing many different demographics. Any media coverage you receive should be shared (liberally) in hopes of cementing your reputation in the eyes of your followers and driving more revenue.

Reality TV: cable TV shows have become the new frontier of media outreach with shows on the Food Network, HGTV and Discovery helping small businesses, chefs, interior designers, fitness coaches become famous overnight. Austin’s reputation as a hotbed of innovation and population growth makes it a desirable location for reality TV. Pay attention to casting calls online and you may just find yourself featured in a show about food, cars or tattoos.

Expert: becoming known as an expert or thought leader in a field of business can often lead to inquiries from customers; it’s easier to get over the “know-like-trust” hurdle when you are a recognized leader, speaker or columnist in your field.

Search engine leads and rankings: placements in a variety of online media will not only result in more website clicks they will also help increase your organic search engine rankings through hyperlinks in an article. This happens because search engine algorithms like Google’s value hyperlinks that point back to a website, especially from websites that are both highly-trafficked and relevant to your website content in some way or another. And higher rankings translate into more business.

Landing page & embedded links: whenever possible drive visits to your online assets, whether it is a homepage or a unique landing page created for the PR campaign. This helps you measure a campaign’s effectiveness plus you can embed marketing call-to-actions that you would otherwise not be able to highlight in a press release or expect to see a reporter endorse in an article.

Want to add your observations to the list or politely disagree? The comment section is all ears!

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

When to use a Media Alert?

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With all that is written about PR and the media these days, one surprisingly effective PR communication device rarely gets attention: media alerts.

Part of the reason for the lack of attention is because press releases have grown in popularity as an SEO (search engine optimization) tool for companies seeking to improve their search engine rankings.

Media alerts truly are virtuous for their single-minded focus. They exist to inform media outlets of an organization’s plan to hold an event:

  • Press conferences
  • Demos at a tradeshows
  • Award ceremonies
  • Grand openings of entertainment venues like water parks, music halls, or theaters
  • Annual fundraisers benefitting charities like Susan G. Komen or Salvation Army

The format of a media alert is extremely formulaic – much more than a press release – and is limited to communicating the what, where, when, why & how of the event. In fact, the layout of a media alert should literally show each of those items in bold with a brief explanation indented to the right.

Not unlike this:

Media Alert
August 10, 2014

Fun Kart Lanes to Hold VIP & Media Day in Advance of Grand Opening

What:​ Fun Kart Lanes is holding a VIP & Media Day before its official grand opening on August 10. Media professionals and select guests will be able to get behind the wheel of a professional kart and live the dream of being an Indy driver while racing around Fun Kart Lanes’ half-mile winding track.

Who: We expect several community leaders to attend our VIP & Media Day including Mayor Dianne Sawyer, Congressman Samuel L. Jackson, State Senator George Lopez and Chamber of Commerce president Rick Grimes.

When: 12:00 – 4:00 PM Saturday, August 10

Where: 1001 Speedway Boulevard, Anytown

Why: Fun Kart Lanes gives a real-life feeling of what it’s like to be a professional driver in the IndyCar series in a safe, controlled kart. Fun Kart Lanes will also offer driving lessons for young, aspiring drivers with dreams to break into the IndyCar world.

How: Media are invited to experience and cover the exclusive event and are encouraged to arrive up to one hour in advance in order to set up equipment, arrange interview times with Fun kart Lanes Founder & CEO, Tom Brady, and take pictures of the karts.

Media Contact:
Serena Williams
serena@funkartlanes.com
(123) 456-7890

Some media alerts may start with an introductory paragraph or two then segue into the who, what, where, when… Some also drop the ‘how’ and keep it limited to the 5-w’s.

No matter what you decide works best for your organization, media alerts are a powerful PR tool when used for the right event call-to-actions.

Want to share how a media alert helped your organization grab some great publicity? Share your ideas below!

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

What are good topics for press releases?

IMG_0441Many small and emerging growth businesses get a kind of writer’s block when it comes to communicating their latest accomplishments in press releases. What to write about, when to share it, who in the media to approach, how much to share — all are questions that can befuddle even the most ambitious business owner or marketing manager.

Keep in mind that, historically speaking, a press release is nothing more than a formulaic communication device used when making an announcement to the public through the media.

The Internet, however, has since flipped that concept on its head. What that means for business is that there are many more topics than ever before that can become the subject of a press release.

In the past, the audience for a press release was limited to mainstream media. On occasion shareholders or other stakeholders might read them. Rarely would they reach the hands of a wider audience.

Today, press releases have so many more possibilities. The crux is how to recognize a trigger event when it happens so that you can write a press release and share it with an appropriate audience.

My list below should give you some guidance:

Company founding: when your company is founded, it’s an opportunity to share it with the local business news, especially if it involves leasing real estate and hiring employees.

Product launch: announcing a new product or service line merits a press release every time. A press release will explain to both media and customers alike what the product or service is, when it’s launching, what the price is, how to find it, etc. Maybe it’s about a spring clothing line, a sales enablement tool for enterprises or a new organic cold brew coffee beverage available at Whole Foods. You will want to communicate the key facts as succinctly as possible to interested media and customers.

New employee: say you just hired a VP or C-level employee, you will be wise to issue a release to the local business reporters (and possibly trade journalists) as it represents a significant hire for any company.

Tech startup funding: no matter whether it’s a relatively small Angel investment or a larger Series A or B round of funding, you should always accompany the event with a press release targeting relevant tech media outlets.

Awards: what if you win an industry award like an ADDY or something from an industry trade group like the National Association of Home Builders? You have a reason to do a little bragging! A press release is the place to brag to media in hopes of getting some coverage that can help grow your reputation and sales funnel to boot. Just don’t come off too self-congratulatory or a reporter may get turned off.

Milestones: akin to an award, this allows you to tell the world about your latest accomplishment in the form of milestones like years in business, number of customers served, etc. Think of McDonald’s and the number of burgers sold, which the company stopped counting at 99 billion back in 1999, by the way.

Mergers, acquisitions or strategic partnerships: these can be big news for a community or a vertical industry and so should be communicated in a press release. The terms of the deal – acquisition price, share price, ownership percentages – need to be related to the business or trade press. A community business reporter wants to know how many jobs could be gained or lost as a result of the transaction. A trade blogger wants to talk about what the combined enterprise means for the industry as a whole – higher prices, lower prices, more investment in R&D, etc.

Real estate: when you expand into a larger office or operational facility it’s usually cause for a press release explaining what is causing the growth. Be ready to cite specifics of the real estate deal: square-feet of new space versus old space, rent, number of employees, and possibly even revenue numbers or growth rates.

Charitable contribution: large monetary gifts from businesses tend to get in the news, if only in the pictures section where an oversized check is handed over to a nonprofit executive director. If you have an award ceremony and the amount donated is substantial, then consider writing a media alert or press release announcing the gift and details of the event.

Charitable fundraisers: speaking of charitable contributions, a nonprofit holding its annual fundraiser is certainly wise to consider a press release when it comes to informing the local media about the who, what, where, when and why of the event.

Capital improvements: I’m not talking about a trip to Lowe’s for a can of paint and some new furniture. If your company is about to make a 7-figure investment in adding new plant capacity or other improvements, then pick up the laptop and start writing. Any local news departments will be curious to learn what the changes will mean for the local economy in the form of jobs, more traffic, higher tax revenues, etc.

Grants: say you won a major government grant from the CDC to study a new drug therapy for treating Ebola. Because of how complicated the research project probably is, a press release is a smart way to communicate the details without handing out a dissertation. A press release also allows you to include a couple quotes that can be used in case a full-on interview is not possible.

Educating customers: sometimes a press release is a great way to educate the customer about a new offering or recent success story and doing it in the form of a press release that you email out or post on your blog is a clever way to drive inquiries.

Search engine optimization: SEO became a huge driver in the recent proliferation of press release distribution websites like PRWeb and PRLeap. If you don’t have earth-shattering news to share yet want to improve your search engine rankings, press releases can be part of an overall strategy to effect a positive change in your Google or Yahoo ranking. Just be sure your press releases are still a source of good, quality content or readers may begin to view your content with a certain amount of skepticism – i.e., that you are trying to sell them something or pushing an SEO agenda as opposed to providing facts and relevant news. That, and Google tends to look askance at what it calls keyword stuffing in press releases; Hell hath no fury like Google’s penalties for what it considers black hat SEO.

Expansion: is your business expanding into a new territory? If you’re staffing up a team in the UK or Hong Kong, then a press release will inform the local media in both your city of origin and newest location about your hiring plans and expected impact on the local economy.

Software upgrade: is your tech startup about to release a major mobile software update, or issue a new app upgrade that helps companies with cybersecurity? A press release will help you capture all the new updates in a way that bloggers at TechCrunch, Mashable and VentureBeat can easily digest and incorporate into an article.

As you can see from above, the topics for a press release are as varied as your creative mind can reach.

The key is to know what your goals for the press release are. Is it for getting some prized publicity, to educate your customers or investors, to improve your search engine rankings or any combination of the above?

Once you know your target audience and communication goals, you can then create a press release that addresses the task at hand.

Got some ideas to add? Feel free to add them below!

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Austin PR and marketing agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

How many words should there be in a press release title?

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The title of a press release is the most important element of a press release. Why? Because it’s the most effective way to hook a busy reporter in hopes of gaining some serious publicity for your business or nonprofit.

Knowing how important a title is, it should not come as a surprise that it often takes as much or more time to create an effective title than any other part of the press release, including the body.

So how many words should you have in the title of your next press release?

Here are some of the factors to help determine the appropriate number:

  • Pound for pound: the title carries most of the weight of your release. A good title can communicate as much as 70% of your press release.
  • Set the hook: the effectiveness of your title allows you to hook a busy reporter or editor, getting you one step closer to the publicity you seek.
  • SEO: a press release title can help your search engine optimization goals, and the length of a title for search engine indexing purposes need only be 60 characters long.
  • Readability: a long title can certainly include more information but it may discourage readers from reading it, which is the goal of a title.
  • KISS: the general rule-of-thumb in coming up with a strong title is to keep it simple, with shorter words for the idea to get across quickly.
  • Action verbs: it’s always easier to eliminate fat by using action verbs, which are stronger at capturing a reader’s attention.
  • Technical jargon: try not to get too technical in your title if you plan to reach out to media professionals outside of niche trade journals.

So now that we have established some of the factors playing into how long a press release title should be, you are no doubt wondering what IS the ideal length of a title.

Funny thing is, there is no one right answer. I like to say that the ideal length of a press release title is the absolute fewest words it takes to communicate your core message.

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to keep your title to one line, which effectively limits it to fewer than 10-14 words, depending upon the number of characters in each word. Ideally, a title will not exceed 10-12 words and 80 characters with spaces. That does not always work, however, as some announcements are simply too hard to capture in so little space. Fear not, a long title will still work as long as you add enough hard-hitting content on that first line to hook the reader.

The point made above about how search engines index titles up to a maximum of 60 characters means that if you plan to use a keyword in the title – and you should – then you need to place the keyword inside the first 60 characters. Failing to do so would be to miss out on an effective way to improve your website’s search engine rankings.

Last Tip: When coming up with your ideal title, write up to five different versions of it to see which one does the best job in the least amount of space. Don’t forget to run it by your colleagues before deciding on a winner.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR & marketing agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

Anatomy of a Press Release

A press release is a written communication piece typically between 1-2 pages in length that consists of a straight-forward portrayal of information about a company, event, or person. It is a formulaic communication between an organization and the news media, as well as stake holders such as customers, shareholders, volunteers, etc. The ultimate goal of a press release is to influence the perception of the organization by the public.

What follows is a description of the parts that make up a press release. By understanding the “anatomy” of a press release, you will be better able to write them and persuade interested parties to take action.

press release parts

As you can see from the graphic, an inverted pyramid best describes how much time you should spend on each part of your press release! In other words, spend more time on the headline as it is what sets the “hook” in your reader; the PR contact info and Boilerplate should take the least amount of time.

  • Headline: This is where you will really capture the reader’s attention. Use action verbs, relate it to a trending news story, and use keywords to make sure your release is helping your SEO strategy.
  • Sub-Headline: The headline and sub-headline should tell 80% of the story. Use the sub-headline to provide a supporting fact that grabs attention, but make sure to save the most important fact for the actual headline.
  • Intro Paragraph: This is where you continue to hook the reader and add some quick info – it’s a summary of your whole press release. Mention the company name immediately. Be specific and keep the intro to two sentences over no more than 3-4 lines. Be sure to either embed (anchor text) or use a direct URL that links back to your website’s home page or to an appropriate landing page.
  • Main Body: The part where you really flesh out your intro paragraph and add on key facts. Keep the each paragraph short, no more than 4-5 lines if possible, for readability. For best results, include a quote from a company or nonprofit representative, as well as one from 3rd party if applicable. Also, include a call-to-action at the end of the body to prompt readers to act. Include a URL for about every 100 words so your releases are not seen by the search engines (and readers) as thinly veiled SEO vehicles.
  • About Us (“Boilerplate”): A quick about us section that just gives the reader a short summary of what your company is about. Be short and brief, no more than 5-6 lines. This part should focus on an overall description of your business from a strategic perspective. Don’t overdo it on the fact, though. Keep it high-level. Another URL for your company is appropriate here.
  • PR Contact Info: This is where you provide all of the contact information and links for journalists or readers to use to contact you. Without this, you will make it a lot harder for a journalist to write about your latest news.

That’s it! A press release stripped down to the bare basics.

With all of that – plus a few hours of blood, sweat, and tears – you will have your very own press release to share with customers, prospects and media outlets. They will be putty in your hands!

Have any other tips you’d like to share about press releases? Post them on our Facebook page or in the comment section below.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded his own PR firm in Austin in 2009 as one of the only PR firms in the country to provide performance-based PR pricing. Dave Manzer PR and Marketing helps startups and emerging growth companies become recognizable brands through innovative, value-driven PR campaigns, PR stunts, blogging and ghost writing. He also launched PR over Coffee to provide small business PR advice so that entrepreneurs and startups could practice “DIY” PR and promote themselves to a much wider audience. For more information about Dave or PR over Coffee, email info(@)PRoverCoffee.com.

5 Surprising Marketing Uses of Press Releases

imgresRemember the famous Florida orange juice commercials that said, “Orange Juice, it’s not just for breakfast anymore?”

Well, we can now say this about the staid, good-old press release: “Press releases, they’re not just for the media anymore!”

True, press releases still help you communicate news announcements to the media in hopes of getting news coverage. But today any small business, whether a tech startup in Austin or a boutique fitness gym Chicago, can use a press release to spread “news” directly to customers and prospects in hopes of getting more business.

Here are five practical marketing uses for press releases that you may not have thought of before:

1. Inform customers of new offerings: It’s always easier to grow revenue from existing customers. Press releases can inform them of how your products and services are helping others. Customers will always want to know more, so why not help them learn more about your products and services by informing them of your new offerings, customer successes and new accomplishments?

2. SEO: Improve search engine rankings through by optimizing your press releases for key words that relate back to your website. In fact, thanks to PRWeb.com, press releases have taken on a brand new life as content marketing tools that deliver highly relevant content while at the same time increasing search engine rankings with back-links to your website.

3. Communicate a call-to-action: A call-to-action can immediately elicit a response to a promotion. Many consumers who may be turned off by advertising may react differently if the same promotion is part of a “news announcement” that describes the offer in less “salesy” terminology.

4. Win new business: Got some new prospects you want to close? Consider sending press releases to them to inform them of your latest news as part of an overall drip marketing campaign. People are naturally nosy, so sending “breaking news” is a side-door way to pique their interest in what you are doing. In other words, you’re selling to them without actually looking like you’re trying to sell to them.

5. Social Media content: Add share buttons to press releases so they can be shared to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. Social media is now an indispensable part of the marketing function, so utilize it in all possible ways. Allowing your press release to be shared on these platforms will help you gain a larger following and more views, ultimately resulting in more website traffic and new business.

Have a question or other tips you want to share? Leave them on our Facebook page or in the comment section below.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009 as one of the only PR agencies in the country to provide performance-based PR pricing. In 2010, Dave launched PR over Coffee to provide small business PR advice so that entrepreneurs and startups could practice “DIY” PR and promote themselves directly to media outlets. For more information about Dave or PR over Coffee, email info(@)PRoverCoffee.com.

 

Press Release Tips for Small Businesses from Business Wire

Press Releases for Small BusinessesAs a small business owner, it can be hard to step outside your world and think about how you are going to get covered in the local, or even national, news media.

If your budget won’t allow you to hire a public relations firm, then the task can seem even more daunting. What media outlets should you target? What message about your business should you communicate? Should you use the Wire to distribute your press release or just a simple Internet distribution website?

Not to worry! Erica Schuckies of Business Wire provided us with a list of tips below on how to create and use press releases to promote your business to the media and public.

Newsworthy Topic: Ask yourself what is happening at your business that may be newsworthy? Avoid marketing slogans and sales pitches in favor of substantive messages tied to trending news or events that you have planned.

Headline: Arguably the most important part of your press release. This allows you to set the hook and get journalists to read the release.

Timely:  If there is a recent event or happening at the company, tell the story as it relates to the present time. What is happening in your industry that your business is contributing to? What relevant expertise can you communicate that will make your business part of the bigger picture. Timeliness can make the difference between beings ignored or picked up and written about.

Readability: Write your press release in an inverted pyramid style; the most important information should be in the first paragraph to help journalists determine if your release is worth a closer read.

Links: Don’t forget to link back to your website or landing page. The average link-to-text ratio in a press release should be about 1 link for every 100-125 words. Make sure to include both anchor text and the full link text, in case the anchor text link does not work.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): To achieve a stronger search engine rankings, chose one to two keyword phrases that you want to center your press release around. Think of important words or phrases that will allow you to be ranked in search engines. Place those keywords in your headline and throughout the body of the press release. Be careful not to stuff your press release; the key is to give it finesse and a natural flow but still remain relevant in search engines. As Erica would say “You want to walk the fine line between writing for the real person and writing for the search engine robots.”

Concise: The longer the press release, the less likely someone will read through it. One option is to create bullet points, which are great ways to get information across in a visually appealing way.

Multimedia: If possible, make it high resolution. This can include logos, photos, videos, graphics, white papers, or sound bites.

Target the Media: It’s important to know the type of reporter you are sending your piece to so it is relevant to them. Otherwise you’re wasting your time and annoying them in the process.

Availability: Journalists are often on a very strict schedule. If one responds back to you, then be prepared to drop what you are doing to accommodate their schedule. Otherwise, you can kiss your opportunity goodbye.

A huge “thanks” goes out to Erica at Business Wire for helping us with this list! If you have any suggestions or want to weigh in on it with your own personal experience, then please feel free to leave a comment below. Or if you want to email Erica about how to get more out of your next press release, then feel free to drop her a line at Erica.Schuckies(@)BusinessWire.com.

If you want to attend one of our meetings or learn about our new Press Release Writing Service, then check out our PR over Coffee website!

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