I don’t spend much time in the press release side of marketing. I think all that is about to change Monday when a new Marketing Communications Director comes on board at my company. The director will be filling a newly created spot as my department takes steps toward molding itself into a real marketing department. What it means for me is an opportunity to contribute to the evolving social media strategy of the company, which is late to the party.
As I’ve tried to get smarter on all things PR over the last year, I have subscribed to PR Newswire’s periodic tips and, through them, recently found PR News’ Small Biz PR Report.
If your small business is new to press releases or hasn’t even contemplated them, you might find the Small Biz PR Report blog worth exploring. It provides a cost-free introduction to the world of Public Relations (including social media, media relations, press releases, etc.) as a vehicle for expanding the reach of your business. Of course much of their free advice leads to a sales pitch. So remember the source and use it as a respected basis of opinion.
To narrow the focus even further, today I came across a recent post on the Small Biz PR Report that I thought was worth sharing. Pamela Bartlett, VP of channels for PR Newswire, has developed a PR Toolkit for small businesses that is packed with educational and marketplace information. This is a very good place to start for all levels of PR-savvy-ness -- whether you need to learn what a press release is or you have a decent level of familiarity with PR but don’t know quite how or whether PR and/or press releases can work for your business.
The Q&A with Pamela Bartlett is helpful and she makes a very good point that many small businesses perceive press releases to be just for large businesses. She stumbles with her first sentence, heavy on the marketing lingo. But she adjusts quickly and the rest of the dialog is very worthwhile. So that you don't stop at the first line and miss the subsequent insights, the gist of that first sentence is: Write about your latest business accomplishments or solutions and spread the word about them with press releases.
Ms. Bartlett comes across as a cautious social media supporter. And I applaud caution! In her interview, I quickly see that some of the fundamentals of writing a press release are shared with writing social media content. So if you do your homework with the PR Toolkit and other resources, and discover that press releases may be a tool you want to add to your marketing plan, you can leverage your knowledge gained in social media to write engaging press releases. And vice versa: Many of the PR Toolkit tips can be applied to writing social media content.
In reality, press releases, unbeknownst to them, were the stepping stones to social media – businesses use them to publicize significant events. Now we (businesses and individuals) use social media (and press releases) to publicize significant events. The danger and challenge is that so much is publicized via social media that it is hard to sort out what is significant.