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How to Maximize Your Press Release Reach

DATE PUBLISHED: October 18, 2013

In the 1989 film, "Field of Dreams," a disembodied voice tells Kevin Costner's character, "If you build it, he will come."  And as it turns out, the voice wasn't lying.  Costner's character built a baseball diamond on his Iowa farm and lo and behold, his deceased father emerged from the cornfield along with dozens of other deceased baseball players.  Intense.  The final shot in the movie was an aerial view of the field with lines of cars driving up to watch a night time game. expand your pr outreach

Like most Hollywood films, "Field of Dreams" was deceiving.  First of all, you probably shouldn't listen to disembodied voices.  Secondly, where did all those cars come from?  After all, Costner's character didn't advertise, Tweet, blog, or Facebook the fact that a bunch of ghosts were in town.  Since when do customers show up out of nowhere?  

Sadly, those of us living in the real world, can't rely on disembodied voices to promote our business, especially newsworthy items like new products and promotions.  Thankfully, we still have the press release.  

The press release has been around for ages, and it's easy to see why: it condenses key information so other individuals - journalists, reporters, bloggers, etc. - can pick it up and run with it.  It's a resilient advertising tool.  But we're no longer in the era of "Mad Men," and distributing a press release online is a bit more complicated nowadays thanks, of course, to social media.  

Rather than simply hit "Click" on a group e-mail, businesses now need to take a calibrated approach to distribution - tweaking the content based on the respective distribution channel.  So with that in mind, we'd like to briefly highlight some best practices in press release distribution. 

  • Start with the Basics: E-mail and Press List Blasts.  Send the release to your press contact list in its original form.  And of course, it goes without saying to make sure the release itself is properly constructed: intelligent links to relevant pages on your site, approximately 400 words in length with three-to-four keywords, a good lead and catchy title, sharing buttons, etc.  After all, what's the point in distributing a press release if no one reads it, much less shares it?
  • A Carefully-Tailored Social Media Approach.  OK, this is where things get fun.  As we all know, fans and followers process information differently based on respective social media channels.  Your distribution approach should reflect this fact.  So let's break it down even further based on selected channels, shall we?
Facebook - Thinking about cutting and pasting your 400 word press release in your Timeline?  Don't.  Rather, ask yourself, "What do our Facebook fans care about most?"  Then synthesize your release's message into a line or two, post it on your Timeline, link it to the full release on your site, and make sure to include a photo.  If it's super-cool news, maybe even change your banner.
Twitter - If you couldn't guess, the briefer the better here too.  Like Facebook, link to the full release and go from there.
Blog - Here you can paste the original release if you'd like.  That said, additional and casual commentary should be added to "set up" the release.
The Usual Suspects - As far as additional social media outlets go, post the release on Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Reddit, where applicable.  If your brain is hurting at the prospect of this grunt work, make sure you download sharing tools like ShareThis.  They'll allow you to post to selected channels in seconds.  Easy.
  • Some "Global" Social Media Distribution Tactics.  By now you understand that the key to distributing a press release online is tweaking the presentation of the content for select social media channels.  When doing so, make sure to keep these themes in mind:
Engage, engage, and engage.  When posting on social media, ask for feedback, provide additional info, and above all else, encourage followers to share.
Repeat as needed.  (Unspecified) social scientists have proven that it takes a least two or three tries before information is truly absorbed by a reader or viewer.  So don’t be shy in rolling out a second round of distribution on select social media channels.  
Reach out to taste-makers.  If you’ve yet to do so, cultivate a network of like-minded bloggers and businesses and personally reach out to them.  Ask them to share the news on their blogs and social media pages to expand your reach.
  • Add Google Authorship to Your Release.  Avid readers of this blog know that Google goes to great lengths to identify and reward high-quality content.  One way they do this is through Google Authorship, which verifies the information presented was written by a real, live human, versus a mendacious content farm.  Since Google Authorship verifies the author and related content, the release is given a higher ranking on Google Search.  Pretty cool.  So by all means, go legit and authorize yourself and your press release.  

Follow these basic tenets and you'll likely see some pretty satisfying results.  Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the two glaring elephants in the room with regards to distributing a press release online. 

The first is that fact you can simply outsource it all to a third party.  (And you wouldn’t be the first company to do that.)  The second is that our elegant “Field of Dreams” analogy isn’t entirely accurate, and that’s because Kevin Costner’s character’s best friend was played by James Earl Jones.  And if you have James Earl Jones on your side, you don't need a press release, social media, or Google Authorship.  It's James Earl Jones.

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