It’s incredibly hard to get a social media community interested in a press release, and it’s not because they hate hearing about what your company is up to, it’s just that they hate the way you’re telling the story. Consider some of the approaches the average press release takes.
1. [company/brand name] announces [product/service name]
This press release is boring and will be considered spammy because it simply uses hyperbole to shamelessly promote a company’s product or service.
2. [company/brand name] announces [financial news]
This press release announces that a company is merging with another, has gotten additional funding, etc. And doesn’t really add any value to the experience of the end user (unless you’re announcing something like the Google acquisition of You Tube)
3. [company/brand name] plans [action]
This press release announces that a company plans to do something, i.e. ‘medical company plans to combat disease’. While we’re all for combating disease most social media users would appreciate it if you did it a little more quietly or make it more relevant.
4. [company/brand name] achieves [accomplishment]
This press release just pats its sponsor on the back by boasting what the company has achieved. Sure, we’re happy that you’ve signed up your 100,000th user, but what do you want us to do about it?
Why Regular Press Releases Fail in Social Media
Here are the 3 main reasons why a press release would normally have zero chance of success in social media:
1. They have the wrong singular focus, which is on the company issuing the release.
2. They are full of marketing-speak that inherently engenders mistrust in the eyes of the social media audience.
3. They don’t have a specific audience in mind, and are written broadly and presented blandly.
Now, it’s perfectly fine to want to promote your company, because after all, we all have to make a living. But the social-web audience doesn’t like blatant sales and marketing speak.
How to Make it Work
If you look at Brian’s article from last week, How to Get 6,312 Subscribers to Your Business Blog in One Day, it’s not designed as a press release (nor was it paid for by anyone). Regardless, it accomplishes most of the functions of a good press release.
When I asked Brian about it, he said when he writes press releases, that’s the way he does it. It should be presented as a story that has value to readers first, because if it happens to be picked up by a journalist, you’ve just made his job easier by presenting an angle. That said, Brian told me he rarely bothers with press releases, because if done well, a well-written case study can do better in social media in terms of both exposure and SEO benefits.
Brian’s article worked. It got over 900 Diggs, and made Delicious Popular while attracting 30,000 unique visitors from outside the regular Copyblogger readership. The reason it worked is because it wasn’t directly trying to promote him or his client. Rather this “alternative” press release announces a service and an accomplishment but (this is important) then goes on to create value by explaining what techniques were used to create that success, why these techniques work, and how the audience can replicate the results.
Strategies Used in the Alternative Press Release
The article follows all the advice Brian gives related to strong blogging: a sure-fire headline structure, a strong opening that uses an anecdote that paints a relatable picture, and content that utilizes all the laws of persuasive blogging. But what I found brilliant was that the post is completely social media optimized.
1. The headline is optimized for all three kinds of readers.
2. The post is perfect for diagonal readers.
3. The text formatting is attractive, unlike the bland press releases everywhere else.
4. It’s to the point. There are no words wasted.
5. It creates value by including a step-by-step methodology for others to follow.
This is an excellent example of how putting readers first can provide big rewards in social media, as opposed to spending $200 to issue a press release that no one reads. Find a way to deliver value to people beyond your company news, and more people will take an interest in what you’re doing.
About the Author: Get more social media analysis from Muhammad Saleem over at his blog.