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March 20, 2012

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Do you know why nobody is reading your press releases ?

by Tom De Baere

Maybe you do not realize it, but I believe many B2B companies have really bad press releases.

In this post I want to share with you some of the reasons why B2B companies must change the way they write their press releases, and move away from overly polished and egocentric writing styles.

The good news

In my experience, press releases are really a powerful way to put out your news. No matter if you are a small or large company, they are an effective tool to put out your news. Putting real effort in PR and media relations by having personal contact to members of the press usually pays off in terms of media coverage or speaking slots at major events in your industry. What also helps is having a media buying relationship if your industry is small enough.

When I talked to some of the journalist I know, it struck me that most companies are not doing PR in the right way.

The bad news

What they told me confirms what I read earlier in some great books on Marketing and PR, mentioned in one of my previous posts:

  • Nobody actually sees the press release except a handful of reporters, editors and some end-customers on your mailing list. And these reporters and editors get 100’s of press releases per day. Yes, the media will cover your story in their daily news-blast to their subscriber list. And they will put it on their website in the news section. But as with any of us, we are all over-informed and over-loaded with information, that often these e-letters are the first e-mails we delete from our inbox.
  • Usually Press releases today are written in a un-natural language, full with company specific acronyms, and meaningless words like “market leader, innovator, world class…” for which end-users and media have become blind, because everyone is using them.  Jargon is OK for a specialized journalist, but is not understood by more generic media or let alone end-users. See also this post from @dmscott.
  • Reporters and editors of magazines use the web to seek out interesting stories, people and companies. Will they find your company ? Do reporters really set-out with the thought “Let me go to that company website and check out their Press Releases” and see if I can draft a story around it”? Of course not. Journalists talk to end-users, visit events, participate as a moderator at industry organisation events, and follow the news in general. Based on that, they create an editorial calendar of stories they want to make. And based on that editorial calendar, they go on the Internet and search for information they can use in their story. And then they will contact the companies that have interesting on-topic stories to tell.
  • Today your press releases might be sent to media and PR forwarders, and published on your website. On your website these PRs are listed in chronological order, and as such it is hard for end-users or press to find content that is relevant for a certain market, application or generic industry topic. Or a specific product if you will.

Your PR and media relations program are built on what your company wants to say rather than what the buyer wants to hear. And I do not mean the specific news topic that you want to convey, but rather the way you represent the information into these press releases. Usually companies talk about themselves, the functionality of there products, and how good they are. Or maybe you do try to talk about what problems they solve for our customers, but still 80% of the text is about their company.

So what should you do ?

First you need to get convinced of the basic principle that you should not talk about yourself, not even your company or your products, but instead you need get into the head of your buyers and start talking about how your products solve their problems. Make sure that your press release feels as it is written by a person that really tries to provide useful information to its readers, by clearly explaining what problem your are solving, which pains this problem is causing for the markets or applications faced with this problem, and what the benefits are of your solution by quantifying and being concrete about the benefits.

In a later post I will give more practical insight on what I think effective and strong press releases are.

Do you work with a PR agency ?

Talk to them about this idea. Show them this post, or let them read some good books on content marketing. If they are worth your money, they should be able to turn around their writing style, avoid industry specific jargon, focus on customer needs and be concrete and factual about customer benefits.

 

Do you recognize yourself in this ? Do your press releases also look like this ? I would be very much interested in learning how you have changed your press releases and have press release that reach their goal.

That’s it. Thank you for reading.

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003405952166 Romando

    , where do we start? Blogs? Podcasts? Public relations? SEO? Paid sacreh? Viral marketing? The list goes on. To make matters worse, technology is changing and new tools are developing almost every day. In the early chapters, David takes a high altitude look at online marketing options, showing us how they developed, why they’re important, how they work, and why they work. In later Action Plan chapters, he jumps into the trenches and shows us how to actually use the tools and implement programs. Throughout, he uses detailed case studies to illustrate not only the programs but the amazing results they can achieve. But it isn’t just the latest and greatest technologies that are crucially important. Public relations, for example, has been around since Gutenberg but for the first time is practical for a small company. Traditional PR was cost-prohibitive and dependent on unreachable key media contacts. But in the new world your primary audience is no longer just a handful of journalists. Your audience is millions of people with Internet connections and access to sacreh engines and RSS readers. (Chapter 5) Today, public relations may be the single most underutilized tool in the marketing arsenal. Another old technology David brings us up to speed on is the corporate Web site. In fact, the three most important points I got out of The New Rules of Marketing & PR have enormous implications on traditional Web development. Those key points are 1. The most important New Rule is CONTENT. Design is important. Technology is important. But without extraordinary content, you’re doomed. 2. Interruption marketing (think spam and pop-up ads) has given way to consumer-driven marketing. Yippee! The Web is different. Instead of one-way interruption, Web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the precise moment that a buyer needs it. (Chapter 1) 3. The starting point for any New Rule program is to create customer personas. If you’re going to have extraordinary content that motivates buyers to take action, you’d better know your customers inside-out. David explains how these three principles should influence not only your corporate Web site, but every other online program you undertake. Thankfully, David is understandable as well as instructive. One reason I’ve enjoyed his blog for over a year is his conversational, entertaining writing style. He makes learning easy (which is harder to do than you might think). Anyway, his book is just like his blog illuminating and fun. The New Rules of Marketing & PR presents the most complete picture of any book I’ve read. For the marketing specialist, it will fill in the gaps. For the generalist, it will open up a whole new world.