This blog first appeared on the Wishpond Blog
If a press release seems like a foreign concept to you, don’t worry. It’s often overlooked as an old-school corporate form of getting your message out. But, even as public relations and marketing have been merging in the world of social media, the press release still has power. In fact, you could argue that with the myriad of blogs and media sites online these days, the press release is an increasingly powerful way to get your message out.
Ok, I come from a background in public relations, so I know how effective media can be as a promotional tool. If it’s done well.
Take the promotion of a Facebook contestfor example: In addition to cross-promoting on social media sites, targeted ads, and even in-store marketing, earned media through a press release is a great way to kickstart user participation.
Not to paint a picture of me as a husky voiced scotch drinking ol’ gal (oh, I think I just did)… but I’ve seen a lot of what works – and what doesn’t. And I like to think I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. In this article, I’ll share a few essential steps of creating a press release how to use one to jumpstart interest in your next Facebook contest:
1. Create a Facebook Contest that your Market will Gush Over
First things first. You need to make a kickin’ contest that resonates with your audience. Check out our page on How to Run a Facebook Contest to learn more about this. Or download our free eBook on Facebook Contest and Promotions.
Make a contest that will appeal to your customers. If you target your media story about your contest well – that is, you target your story to media your customers read – the bloggers and journalists reporting on your story will like your contest too.
Here’s an example of a skate related contest, running on the Skate Sauce Facebook page. Their contest appeals to both their customers, and to the media they targeted in their press release. The Berrics, a niche skate related media site, printed their story, further promoting their Facebook contest.
2. Create a List of Relevant Publications to Target
Next, list out which media channels are best suited to your news. Targeting your media can be a make or break decision in determining if your story gets published – and if your Facebook contest reaches its potential.
Think of it like advertising. You may not be paying a media outlet to publish your message, but you still want results.
Many businesses overlook it, yet it’s so important to know your target market – even for a press release. Take 10 minutes and write down the market you’re aiming for. Here are some tips to define your target market.
Now you can start to list out your best media outlets. Write out a list of media that:
A. is read by your customers
B. publishes related stories
A. Find media outlets that are read by customers, and potential customers. This could include prominent bloggers, traditional print newspapers, and online niche media sites.
How can you do this? Ask your customers.
Do a quick in-store survey – even if it’s simply asking your customers as they shop or check out. Or, if your market is already actively interacting with you in Facebook, set up a simple vote contest, or short caption/essay contestgaining feedback on what media your customers read.
Here is an example of what such an essay contest could look like on your Facebook Page:
B. Find media outlets that will be interested in your Facebook contest. Do a bit of searching online for the best media outlets for your story.
If you are a locally based store, or have a locally based interest – target your press release to local papers and prominent local bloggers.
Take, for example, L. Andrews Cooper, a local Louisville author. A press release promoting his Facebook contest and latest book release was covered in louisville.com.
If you have multiple stores in different geographical locations, or you have a strong online customer base, search for relevant niche media with a more global readership.
When you have a good grasp of what media coverage you are targeting, write an appropriately marketed press release.
3. Write Your Press Release
There is an art to writing a great press release. There are also standard structures and know-how to a news release.
Start with these basic tips for your Facebook contest media release:
1. Make it newsworthy
Newspaper sites print stories that are of interest to their subscribers. Write an interesting newsworthy angle for your Facebook contest.Make it timely and time based. Show how the contest is relevant to the media sites you are targeting, and not just about your Facebook promotion.
For example, let’s say you are a local coffee shop running a Facebook group offer. You might want to give partial proceeds of every group offer sale to a local charity. Write about this in your press release. A local newspaper or blogger may be more likely to run your story.
Or, write a press release with the angle about being the first local business in your community to use Facebook contests as a marketing tool.
2. Keep it to the point
Good news releases are generally one page in length. Keep your word count in the 300-800 range.
Often, media sites will print your story as is. If it is too long or too short, it may prevent your press release from coverage.
Additionally, make sure your message is clear. State what the press release is about and why it’s newsworthy in your opening summary.
3. Tone your press release objectively
Use third person in your news releases. Only use first person in quotes from your company representative.
Don’t oversell your contest, and don’t use excited punctuation like exclamation marks. You do not want your release to come across as being overly salesy, or full of hype. This will likely be rejected by a media site.
Keep the tone professional to give your press release credibility.
4. Create a great headline
Your headline is one of the most important aspects of your news release. Write your words to clearly summarize what your story is about. Include your company name too.
A headline may be the only thing people read of your press release. A catchy headline may actually get your story printed – and read.
Check out the article: 5 Awesome Tips: How to Make Killer Blog Headlines for headline making hints.
5. Include contact information
There may be nothing worse in a press release than forgetting to include your contact information.
The media could have a question for you, or need an additional quote regarding your Facebook contest. If you have no contact information, this may lose you the earned media opportunity. Make sure you include a name and contact as your company media liaison.
Your contact information should include an email, as well as your Facebook page (where your contest is). You could include a phone number, and all other social sites your company has.
Check out Grammarly’s press release to promote their Wishpond powered Facebook contest:
4. Distribute your Press Release
Ok, so you’ve figured out your market. You’ve written a killer press release. Now what?
Now you need to pitch to your targeted media outlets.
A pitch is a brief, succinct email sent out to media outlets with your press release. There are many ways to write a pitch, based on the particular media to which you are aiming.
Over the years, I admit, I’ve learned plenty of pitching lessons the hard way. Here are a few tips you can learn – the easy way – to pitch your story:
1. Make it personable
Write your pitch with a personable tone. Reporters are people too. If you’ve met them at a local event, tell them this. If you’re an avid reader of their work, let them know.
Always address your pitch directly to a reporter or blogger. Do not send out impersonal, mass emails as a way to pitch.
2. Start with the hook
Like a good headline, or media story – start with the wow factor. Your targeted blogger or reporter likely gets dozens of pitches a day. Why read yours?
Include words like “exclusive”, “new” or other great marketing words, in your subject line. Show the sexy element of your story in the first 20 words of your email. Intrigue your reader fast.
3. Get to the facts
Show the who, what, where, when, why and how. And do it straight up. Now is not the time to be writing your next novel.
Journalists are busy people. The clearer you make your pitch, the more likely they will read it. The more likely they will read it, the more likely they will write your story.
4. Show how it relates to the reporter’s audience
Make it easy for your targeted journalist to see the spin on how your story relates to their readership.
Journalists are looking for good stories. Like your business, they have a target market too. Show the fit, and it’s more likely the reporter will want to know more.
5. Follow up
After you’ve sent the pitch and press release, follow up with the reporter. Give them a phone call, or send an email.
Pitching your story is about relationship building. The more you get to know your niche market reporters, the more likely they will warm up to printing your stories.
Here is an example of a pitch email to a local media source:
Methods to distribute your Press Release
In today’s online world, there are many resources to distribute your news release. I’ve compiled a brief list of the better media distribution sites. Some are even free. Check them out and match your needs with their offerings:
At Wishpond, we use PRWeb. They do a great job at getting our message out to targeted media, and they give us a comprehensive dashboard to track results.
5. Analyze the Results
When you use a news distribution service, like PRWeb (a service of Vocus), you get real-time analytics as to where your release has been distributed, what media sites have picked it up, how many full page reads you’ve attained, and more.
You can see at a glance how successful your media take has been:
Additionally, if you include tracking codes (using Google Analytics or Bit.ly, for example) in your press release links – and your release is published as is – you can further compile the data. This is a pretty cool way to find out your click through rate(CTR) to your contest from your earned media.
Tracking codes and news distribution services are great ways to actually see the ROI you attained through the earned media of a press release.
There, now you know the press release still has a place in social media marketing. Regardless of your business size, generating earned media can add a boost to your promotions strategy, and your bottom line. Try out these five points, and write one for your next Facebook contest. Let me know the lessons you learned with your media success.
Written by Krista Bunskoek @ Wishpond
At Wishpond, we want to make it easy to engage with your customer. That’s why we’ve created a whole range of social marketing apps with comprehensive analytics, making your marketing successes a little easier.