I’m convinced that press releases are one of the most misunderstood tools a small business has available to tell its story and drive targeted traffic to its web site and products.
But industry surveys show that the vast majority of all press releases (some estimate the number to conservatively range between 90 and 98%) from small businesses never get past the desk of the editor. Why is that? Don’t editors want good releases?
Of course they do. There are a variety of reasons why a release isn’t accepted and subsequently published, but the main reason given most often by the editors questioned has to do with the copy that the author submits.
You see, authors write in an effort to put the best light or spin possible on their business or product. In other words, they write from the business point of view, usually with a marketing slant or focus.
After all, the reason for the press release from the small business perspective is to ultimately sell more products.
Get the word out! Tell the company story! Create some buzz for the product!
But what are the editors looking for in a press release?
Do they necessarily care about the public opinion of your business? Do they want to help you sell more widgets? Are they anxious to use their influence to brand your company?
Absolutely not! They scan and skim the stack of releases in their inbox each day looking for stories that will be of interest to their loyal readers.
Their perspective is aligned with their customers – those who subscribe and read what they are offering.
Can you see the problem here?
The press release copywriter (usually the business owner in the small one person operation) gears the release toward his own needs; but the editor focuses on what he believes his subscribers want to read.
When these two purposes aren’t compatible, and usually they’re not, guess who loses and gets his release tossed in the round file?
Copywriting is a technical skill and some are paid very handsomely to apply that skill in direct marketing and advertising campaigns.
The best copywriters understand the importance of writing for their audience. They know that their purpose is to entertain, or inform, or instruct . . . whatever the case may be.
The next time you sit down to do a press release, forget that you’re drafting it to help put your company on the map.
Think, instead, about the things you can say to tell an interesting or unusual story to the audience.
Provide some type of valuable content that the readers want, or give them some benefit (saving money, time, or making life easier) that will be readily and easily understood. You can best do this within the framework of an engaging experience or story.
Yes, you are able to mention your company or the product that helps bring the benefit. But the main focus of the press release should be on giving solid information or an interesting story to the reading audience.
Don’t worry that the readers won’t see your company name or product. If they are interested (because your copy is great), they will find you easily enough!
There is great marketing power in a well told, interesting, and engaging story. That should be your focus in a press release.
To your online business success!