I see it all the time. The business owner dying to blast out a press release in hopes they’ll garner instant name recognition, boost sagging sales and be seen “everywhere”.
Some even have dreams of their perfectly crafted release catching the eye of Today Show staff or another similar huge name. Ummm… okay. Love the enthusiasm – keep that – but let’s back up and chat about why press releases are pretty dead and what you need to do instead.
First off, when you’re a relatively unknown business, it’s a unicorn being struck by lightning miracle to have a press release catch the eye of a big name outlet or platform. I’m sorry to kill that dream for you but it simply doesn’t happen. Big names have so many people vying for their attention, it’s unlikely they will ever even know your press release existed.
Secondly, (I risk making the press release companies really mad but it must be said) as awesome as it would be if it were true, the reality is that press releases rarely boost sales. Yes, you read that correctly. Press releases, in and of themselves, do not boost sales. While it’s true you might see a small uptick in sales, you’re not going to go from a sales slump to a supply and demand crisis from sending a release. This is because press releases are, largely, “white noise” in today’s competitive voices. People no longer hone in on them to learn about products and services. To actually increase sales, more action is needed. I’ll explain in the next section.
Well, now that I’ve forced you to abandon any unrealistic expectations, you’re ready to hear what a well-crafted press release can do and why you might still consider sending one.
At UpMyInfluence.com, we recommend and send press releases for one main reason only: To obtain the media logos for businesses that need them. It’s a means for small businesses and entrepreneurs to begin building their “as seen in/on” list, to gain some visibility and authority fast. There are hundreds of sites designed to automatically post the press releases they receive, resulting in a large number of placements for a very short period of time.
Let’s break down what I just said.
Authority: a press release can be a jump start to building authority. In today’s marketplace, customers want to know that companies can be trusted. Sending a press release gains a measure of credibility by yielding media logos from the outlets who post the release.
Now, before you balk at the fact that it seems disingenuous to get media logos for “as seen in/on” lists this way, I’ll clarify two things. One, all media exposure is due to a company first pitching themselves out there. You have to. Journalists will never beat a path to the door of an unknown. All outreach has to start somewhere. And two, outlets are not required to post press releases. They choose to grant the exposure, similar to if you were to reach out directly and an outlet agreed to do a story about you. The largest difference is that most press release companies can guarantee you’ll get placed, due to the relationships they have with journalists and outlets.
Time value and visibility: press releases can be good for SEO-boosting visibility. However, know that the visibility itself is fairly short-lived. Your press release will live out on the interweb for a long time but very quickly be buried by other releases and news. A well-crafted release that provides enormous value to the reader may gain some additional traction by being reposted after the initial release. This is what all press release senders hope for. However, it’s not guaranteed this will happen. You should view any additional traction as a bonus, not a certainty.
That said, to help increase traffic and get more eyes on your press release, you absolutely must share it out on social media. Keep the story going. If you don’t, you’ll see very little traction or engagement for your dollars. Let me add a “but” to this statement though: You need to have some media connections you can tap into, as well as a decent social media following, beforehand. You’ll need them to help you increase engagement. If you do not have either, you need to build those things first, long before you send a press release. I’ll address how to foster a relationship with both media and your own audience momentarily.
All of the above is why, unless you’re a big name the media wants to talk about, sending out more than one press release is likely wasting your marketing dollars. Once you’ve sent one, you may struggle to get any new media logos or additional traction with subsequent releases.
So if press releases are pretty dead and you should only send one… what do you need to do? How can you get more exposure?
Instead of dumping marketing dollars into more press releases, businesses need to move with what actually works in 2019. You absolutely need to foster a relationship with both journalists and your own audience. And if you do not have any relationships with media and do not yet have your own audience (via email lists, social media, YouTube, etc.) – you must build those before ever sending a release. Read on to learn how.
Over the past few years, media has changed drastically in how they seek and obtain stories. Most pay little/no heed to press releases anymore. Instead, media want (and need) businesses and experts who will serve their media audiences. They need those who will give of their knowledge and time to help educate and inform people in the vast arena of experiences and pursuits. Businesses and experts who make themselves available and serve media will naturally build credibility, authority, brand awareness, visibility and SEO. All things that press releases once did, long ago.
Likewise, consumers hate being sold to. Everything you do, whether directly to your own audience or through media must be centered around serving audiences. Give value and people will listen. You must show what’s in it for them before you can get anything out of it for you.
Providing value to audiences is what will actually spark the increase in sales and authority you originally hoped a press release would provide. Learn to craft articles, conversations and stories that engage, inspire, educate, and provoke to action. Use platforms like helpareporter.com/ to find media opportunities to serve. When you are quoted or interviewed, share out those placements on your social media, thanking and tagging the journalist or influencer. Helping them gain traction for their story will, in turn, grant you additional exposure. They, in turn, are more likely after building a relationship with you to help drive traffic to your press release. Then, after months of hard work and a genuine desire to serve, you might be featured one day on the Today Show.
About the Author
Josh Elledge is U.S. Navy veteran and launched UpMyInfluence.com to help entrepreneurs attract the perfect audiences and grow their brands without the crazy costs associated with traditional PR companies.
Josh is a weekly TV consumer expert in Orlando, writes a syndicated newspaper column to 1.1 million readers, and regularly appears on more than 75 TV stations across the country. All told, Josh has appeared in the media more than 2000 times.