As a marketer, you’ve got an arsenal full of effective tools to successfully communicate your brand’s message. Some of these materials include whitepapers, videos, social posts, case studies, newsletters… the list goes on. With all of these types of content, you have no shortage of ways in which to connect with your audience, generate leads and delight your customers.
Press releases are also part of your content marketing toolkit, but this type of content is often viewed as somewhat separate from the more marketing-based materials that companies generally use to achieve their goals. For example, press releases are used when an organization has an announcement to make, such as a new product launch or executive hire, while marketing content, like blog posts, is created to showcase thought leadership and expertise, among other things.
Also, the language used when writing press releases is traditionally professional and formal – companies are relaying specific information to a variety of news sources. On the other hand, marketing content can be written in many different voices, depending on the message and audience.
Content comes in many different styles, and the right strategy includes press releases in that arsenal.
There seems to be a notion that these two types of content serve entirely different purposes and should therefore be used separately. But I’m here to say that marketers should take another approach – press releases and blog posts should be used in conjunction with each other to make the most out of your marketing initiatives and objectives.
The balance between promotional and marketing
Gone are the days of the “versus” mentality: Marketers know that there is no one perfect type of content that achieves all goals and solves all woes. Instead, these marketing tools are combined strategically to provide prospects and customers with the information they are looking for and the data that will influence their behavior.
In a blog we published earlier this year, Brafton Content Marketing Strategist Alex Danoff discussed how both content marketing and public relations often incorporate various components of the other. Public relations – of which press releases are the main form of content – is promotional in nature, and while content marketing can fall under the same umbrella, it is most likely used in other ways – providing analysis, showcasing expertise and moving prospects throughout the buyer’s journey.
But, as Alex stated, companies need learn how to find the correct balance between being too promotional (and potentially turning customers off from purchasing from your business) and providing the resources necessary to move them along the buyer’s journey.
“… A content strategy that is overly promotional is unlikely to succeed,” he said. “The company has to produce content that meets its audience in the middle by answering questions and explaining why its product and services is best for them.”
Content writing and PR can support each other perfectly when you strike the right balance.
Combining press releases and blogs for ultimate results
Again, it’s all about determining the right balance between public relations and content marketing for your organization’s goals. To start, toss out the “press releases vs. blog posts” line of thinking, and start planning for how you can use both to bring in results.
Below, let’s look at several scenarios in which you can use press releases and blogs together to boost traffic, generate more leads and improve your organization’s branding efforts.
“Press releases and blog posts should be used in conjunction with each other to make the most out of your marketing initiatives and objectives.”
New product or service launch
Your business has been hard at work for months, and now it’s finally ready – a new product or service offering. It’s time to celebrate! But it’s also time to spread the news.
Draft up a press release and include all the nitty-gritty details – such as the name, how long it has been in development, the reason for the new offering and information about your company. You can even put in data pertaining to your past products and services, and get thoughts from your executive board on their expectations.
And just like with blog posts, when writing press releases, you’ll want to write to your audience – which, in this case, is journalists. As MarketingProfs outlined, you’ll need to “speak the language” of the journalists you’re sending the release to. This means your copy needs to be to the point, answer the five W’s (who, what, where when and why) and avoid jargon.
Jargon is the definition of gibberish if you try to incorporate it into a press release.
Send the completed release to news publications (especially those within your industry, for maximum exposure) and post it under your site’s news section.
After that, be sure to keep track of how the product or service is performing. Use this data to create blog posts centered around this information as well as inform your readers. What does the product or service offer to prospects? How does it solve their issue? How does it differ from older products or services?
Also think about the questions that your audience has – how can you best provide the answer?
This is the information your potential and existing customers are searching for. Tailor the content to speak directly to them – you can be more conversational in blog posts to create a connection with your readers, as recommended by entrepreneur and KISSmetrics co-founder Neil Patel. In an interview with Inc.com contributor Glenn Leibowitz, Patel offered some of his tips for creating engaging blogs.
“People often fall asleep when reading blog posts because they are poorly written,” Patel stated. “If you use the words ‘You’ and ‘I,’ it makes it more like a conversation than a professor that lectures to you and makes you fall asleep in school.”
Your business has experienced a setback that may result in bad publicity. This type of situation is one in which public relations would seem to be more useful, but content marketing also serves a purpose.
Start with a press release – address the incident, offer a solution and/or action plan, and include quotes from your executives. For this type of release, focus on the subject line, as suggested by MarketingProfs. Make the message clear in the beginning – delaying your point will turn off readers and could result in lower visibility. Provide a media contact at your company – having the name and contact info listed in the release is not just a “nice to have” feature, but it shows readers your organization is committed to solving the problem and answers any questions that may arise.
After that, create a blog post, perhaps a guest blog from the CEO, that again addresses the situation and outlines a solution. This type of content can be more personal and targeted – it can speak directly to your customers to reassure them that your business is dealing with the incident. Post it on your website, send it via email to your customers or both. You want to make sure the public is aware that the business is handling the issue and is working on a solution.
Rave customer review
On the other hand, good news is also something that press releases are often used for, but blog posts are just as beneficial.
Perhaps a Fortune 100 company has chosen your B2B organization’s product or service over your competitors’, or an existing customer has just celebrated their 10-year relationship with your company. Create a press release that includes quotes from your executives as well as those from your customer’s business. Promote your products and services, and be sure to highlight why they were chosen by your customer’s organization.
Next, create a blog post that outlines the same information but instead tells a story. Tailor it to both your audience and that of your customer’s. You can even feature their CEO in a guest blog. Whatever route you take, don’t hesitate to share the good news with other publications and your readers.
Hiring a new executive
Your company has recently added to its executive board – this new hire brings years of experience and has an extensive industry background that will certainly add to your company’s expertise.
Draft a press release to showcase the new exec. Be sure to include his or her background and highlight examples of past results he or she brought in for previous employers. Also, use a few quotes, both from the new hire and other executives.
For a blog post, consider creating an interview-style piece that gets a bit more personal. Where is the exec originally from? Where did he or she attend school? Any hobbies/special interests? What is he or she most excited about with working for your company? This format allows the new hire to provide more details than what is listed in the press release and puts them in a more entertaining light that can appeal to your customers.
Viewing press releases and blog posts as separate tools is not a bad thing – they are different in many ways and serve different purposes. But it’s all about striking that right balance that works for your organization. So get rid of the thought that press releases and blogs can’t work together to bring in results – it will only hurt you in the end.