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Once upon a time, only editors at traditional media outlets read press releases. In today’s digital age, however press releases have morphed into media releases because distribution is broader. Potential customers and other stakeholders can access your media releases via search engines, industry websites, consumer websites, social media, blogs and even on your company website.
As a result, writing a media release means communicating directly with your audience instead of simply trying to attract the interest of an editor or reporter.
Here are the basic rules for an effective media release strategy:
Since you can communicate directly with customers, focus on their needs. Provide potential customers with the information they need – and have a reason – to find your company online. Information to share includes:
Again, don't think about media releases under the old premise of hoping to attract an editor or reporter. A good media release informs current or potential customers and helps them find you; an announcement sharing the news that you just landed a major new customer may cause other potential customers to check you out. The same is true if you win an industry award; while your local newspaper may not be interested, customers may be.
Once you decide what to communicate, how do you craft the ideal release?
If your company won an award, what does that award represent to your customers? Outstanding service? Long-lasting products? Focus not just on what you want to share but on why it is important to your readers – and how they will benefit from the knowledge they gain.
Once your media release is ready, it's time for distribution. The best way to reach the greatest number of potential readers is to distribute using several sources. For example, if you hope to attract the interest of a particular newspaper, by all means send your media release to the appropriate editor – and don’t send it as an attachment. Place it in the body of the email. That way, busy editors will be less likely to delete it.
Then, post the release on your website, and send it to at least one of the online news release services – again, in the body of your message. That way other trade and industry sites might find and post your release, too. What’s more, the search engines will more easily find you.
Here are a few of the largest news release distribution services:
Most online news services require a subscription or a per-release fee. Some will limit your release to a geographic area, but most include distribution to sites like Google News on a worldwide basis. Since you want the most potential readers and customers as possible, make sure you post your releases to a service that is included on major online news sites.
Most importantly, post the release to your own website and social media. Many online news sites do not keep archives of old media releases; your release may only be "live" for a few months. Maintaining the release on your site ensures search engines can always find your content.
In addition, keep a list of social media participants and bloggers that write on topics related to your company and distribute your releases to them. The bottom-line is that today’s media release can garner a much higher return-on-investment because the potential outlets for distribution are so much broader.