Attracting Prospects through the Online Press Release

by Wiz

One of my “fun things” to do is writing for my college’s alumni association magazine. Every month I keep in touch with as many members of my class as I can, and report on what they’re up to.

To prepare for this I end up reading a lot of press releases. I mean a LOT of them! And for the most part they all follow the same general formula:

  • big announcement
  • brief explanation of the announcement
  • quote by the person featured in the announcement
  • quote by the boss, praising this person
  • brief bio of the person
  • brief, jargon-laden description of the company involved

This de facto formula is a leftover from the days when companies would send their announcements to traditional media outlets, who would then repackage and broadcast them through their channels. The audience for which these press releases were prepared was the media themselves.

Online press release services, however, have changed all that. They still reach the traditional media, but thanks to online search engines they are also seen by many other audiences as well.

For example, I entered the phrase “aircraft fasteners” in a popular search engine. Among the results was a link to this press release about an aircraft fastener manufacturer winning a contract. And sure enough, this press release is written in the old “announcement” style listed earlier.

Less “publicity” – more “lead generation”

The reality is that, for non-media audiences, the old press release format is . . . so . . . boring. It doesn’t really say much, and it certainly offers little value to me.

And therein lies the problem: today’s releases are being found by prospects, customers and clients – yet they’re written in such a way as to essentially be invisible. So how can we change that? How can we use online press releases to engage with our prospects and customers, and bring them into our fold?

We have to write them in a different way. We have to think less about “publicity” and more about “lead generation”. There are many different ways to go about it, but here are three key steps to get you started:

1) Write with your desired audience in mind. Sure, we want all our press releases to be seen by the entire world. We also want our website landing pages to be seen by the world, too. Yet one landing page just won’t resonate with everyone. So we must choose one target audience and design a page that speaks specifically to them. The same is true for press releases. If you’re creating a press release to bring customers and prospects to your site, the content and style must be presented in a way that’s appealing to them. (Note – you can still use the old “tried and true” to reach the media – if that’s what they’re looking for.)

2) As my friend Marc Harty over at Main Topic Media is fond of saying: “Build the story – ditch the announcement.” Since anyone can write a press release, the “big announcement” style is becoming less effective. But people – all people – love stories. Write something with a real story – especially one with a twist, or that ties into a current event – and you’ve got something with a better chance of going viral and gaining extra exposure.

3) Add a call to action. Yeah, I know: press releases aren’t supposed to be “salesy”. What I mean is, be proactive and give your reader a reason to come to your site. Conclude your press release by inviting her to pick up your lead generating device. Describe its benefit to her in compelling terms, so that she’ll raise her hand and say “that’s for me.”

“If you want to attract people, you have to be attractive.” Online press releases, written specifically to appeal to your prospects, are one way to attract more of those prospects directly to you. They are a key component of today’s comprehensive b2b marketing strategy.

Related post:

Secret to B2B success in 2012: Customer loyalty supported by the right messaging

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