Get More Out of PR with Dynamic Press Releases

Published May, 20 2013
Content Marketing

If you’re reading this post, your business likely contracts with a PR agency, or you’re interested in handling more PR activities in-house. Either way, you probably think these efforts could bear more fruit. You’re probably right.

PR agencies can play an important role, but their effectiveness in large part depends on the strength of their collective Rolodex to help you get stories written about your business. Online stories often contain inbound links and are thus valuable for SEO purposes (and indeed have search marketing value even without links). But how do you get those stories written, and how do you ensure the right story is being told to begin with?

Press releases are a big part of spreading the word, but in a world littered with millions of them it’s incredibly difficult to stand out. The surprising thing though is that other than going digital, press releases haven’t changed all that much in pretty much forever. We think that press releases—and perhaps PR in general—are due for a rethink.

As it stands, we see three critical issues with press releases:

1) Press Releases Are Perishable

A press release email blast or PR service submission creates a false sense that news has happened, that the world has taken note and some courtly stenographer has amended the global record and sincerely thanks you for your contribution.

Unfortunately, the reality is the message more than likely just hit someone’s already cartoonishly overstuffed inbox, never to be seen or heard from again. This robs a company of a potentially powerful piece of permanent content on their domain, material that could be indexed, found, shared, linked-to, and otherwise used to tell a story. This story in turn helps establish authority and convert on business goals—all fundamentals of effective cross-functional search marketing.

Why solicit a story via email with no context when you can publish one on your domain and reference it instead? Keep in mind, getting people to your site to convert on Calls to Action (CTAs,  in this case to write a story) is the whole point. Not only that, the courtly stenographer in the sky (i.e. Google) is much more likely to note a post with robust content, inbound links, and social activity.

2) Press Releases Are Static

Standard press releases are typically static emails or pdfs and by definition are one-way blasts touting “newsworthy” information. Since most people’s unconscious response is “who cares?”, PR agencies (the ones that do more than post on PRWeb, anyway) typically cultivate ties with writers so the latter receives relevant leads they assume are noteworthy. In other words, writers are the recipients of a targeted content strategy.

But what if you could bypass the agency, or as an agency what if you could get more, higher-quality stories written? That takes storytelling, which takes content—preferably of the multi-media variety. If you’ve got a new product or service the world needs to know about, consider integrating your PR with dynamic on-site content. By incorporating short videos, testimonials, proof of adoption, links to relevant posts and resources, event pics, and evidence of social traction into a dynamic press release, you have an opportunity to showcase your core value proposition and demonstrate your “WHY” proposition. Why you exist, and why people should care.

3) Press Releases Are Not Conversion-Friendly

Many people write press releases from a strictly SEO perspective, and, although controversial, the approach  still appears to have some merit. Regardless, that narrow mindset is fundamentally wrong-headed. The purpose of a press release should be to elicit positive stories about your business. If your sole goal is to acquire the low-quality links within the release themselves, you’re missing a huge opportunity to earn higher quality links AND referring traffic. But if you do?  You’ve reached the holy grail of search marketing: traffic that’s ready to convert.

The press release of the future will rely on strategic content that synthesizes business functions (business goals, design, SEO, copywriting, tech, etc.) that in most organizations occur—inexplicably—in separate silos. Pivoting to this dynamic approach might take some getting used to, but ultimately you’re actually reducing redundancy and lowering costs by better leveraging your existing resources. Lasting competitive advantage will likely go to the companies that best leverage this cross-functional approach to PR and their business in general.