I’ve often spoken and written of the accelerated pace of business on the Internet. Online, everything moves quickly and changes happen almost overnight.
It seems products, businesses and the strategies used to reach customers are here today and gone tomorrow.
Press releases and the way businesses keep in the public eye have also changed significantly with the speed and open access of the Internet.
Just a few years ago, press releases were confined to a very predictable format and were used to relay certain kinds of company highlights and events to the mass media.
Today, things have changed and press releases are nothing like they used to be. Here are some of the changes:
1. Then: Press releases were saved or held back for the very special announcements and events. Too many releases meant that your company lost credibility because it was saturating the market with average news.
Now: Savvy companies seek out every opportunity possible to create and distribute a press release.
2. Then: Press releases were often validated by experts hired to give an opinion on something or vouch for the effectiveness of a product.
Now: Press releases these days are more likely to contain the testimony of satisfied customers or consumers, if any recommendation is given at all.
3. Then: Press releases were distributed and then tracked by clipping services that actually cut out the releases and preserved them as evidence that a story had been told.
Now: Press releases are archived digitally by the company sending the release, industry trade groups and associations, and the distributing agent.
In addition, individual businesses may keep releases as part of their “history” and knowledge set that can be quickly retrieved from a database. In addition, some companies post all their press releases to the “news” section of their web site.
4. Then: Press releases were crafted by staff writers that often knew and had an on-going working relationship with editors and journalists of the media. They were targeted for specific individuals because the writers knew exactly what that editor was looking for.
Now: Any good copywriter can pen an effective press release and offer it to a wide range of outlets including newswires, portals, editors, media outlets, press release distribution services, online trade associations and even targeted individual customers or web sites.
A lot of consumers go to the Internet these days to keep up on the latest news and they see press releases almost as soon as they go out.
5. Then: Press releases were initiated by companies and businesses that had an important story to tell. They were sent to specific trade individuals and publications to see what they thought about the newsworthiness of the story.
Now: There are editors and distribution companies that tell businesses what kind of news they’re presently interested in. They may even send out a call for stories related to a specific niche topic.
6. Then: Further information beyond what was given in the release could only be obtained by responding by mail or telephone to the company headquarters listed in the release.
Now: Generally a release will contain web URLs, email addresses, fax numbers, telephone numbers, etc for more information. An interested person can go directly to the source in a matter of seconds to get additional information.
7. Then: Press releases were pretty sterile and only used to give the facts. They tended to be mostly neutral in emotion and for information purposes only.
Now: Some companies use online press releases as a direct sales tool. They fill the release with carefully chosen key words and optimize the copy for high search engine relevancy. The releases are published online, spidered by the search engine bots and later appear in the search engine results (SERPs) fed to consumers looking to make purchases.
The differences in press releases simply underscore the changes that have taken place in the way business is conducted in the online world.
Your small business needs to understand these changes to take advantage of the new opportunities available for marketing a small business.
To your online business success,