One of the requests in our recent Blog Reader Survey was for “ideas and resources on how to engage the media for free publicity." This was a timely request, since we recently launched our Getting Started With Membership / Non-Profit Publicity guide in our Membership Knowledge Hub.
As we note in the guide, “publicity is all about getting someone else to tell your story. It is an effective and low-cost way to raise awareness of an issue, a cause, an organization, an event or a campaign.” And one of the key tools you can use to get the media’s attention is a press release.
The evolution of the press release
There have also been a few posts recently that had me “Rethinking the Press Release.” While they've apparently been around since the early 1900’s, press releases have come a long way since my early non-profit days when we carefully crafted and printed a press release and sent it (and a press kit) to a select list of media contacts by fax or courier. And as Deb McAlister-Holland (editor of the Distributed Marketing Blog) suggests, “the good old press release [has] been completely reincarnated in a new role – and anyone who hasn’t yet rethought the press release is missing a tremendous opportunity for low-cost content marketing.”
How has the Internet transformed the press release?
The Internet and press release distribution sites have changed both the way in which we send out our press releases, as well as their format and function. In her post, McAlister-Holland suggests the “four most important things that have changed in the way press releases function in today’s connected world:
- Press releases are read by anyone and everyone with access to a web browser or smart phone.
- Press releases aren’t disposable. Google never forgets – the release you post on your website or send via newswire today will be searchable for the foreseeable future. Maybe forever.
- Press releases now have hyperlinks, embedded photos and videos. … 20 years ago, those links weren’t trackable the way they are today.
- Press releases have a whole new constituency. Bloggers, content aggregators and scrapers, and a global audience are eager for news they can use and share.
Competing with the deluge of information on the web
So as McAlister-Holland notes, the press release can be “a great marketing tool to drive traffic, increase customer engagement, and boost search engine rankings,” if its format and content are optimized to break through the online clutter. That means, for example, including:
- an “Seo-optimized title / headline
- a brief summary (Twitter Pitch)
- photos or videos
- a two-paragraph boilerplate (who, what, where, when, why – all the basics, including links)
Just getting started with membership or non-profit publicity?
If you are new to membership or non-profit publicity and need some guidance and tips for getting your organization’s message out, you can check out our publicity guide – co-authored by Mark Buzan (Action Strategies): Getting Started With Membership or Non-profit Publicity. This guide offers the following:
- What is Publicity?
- General PR Tips for Your Non-profit or Membership Organization
- Tips for PR Planning
- Consider your network
- Basic Publicity Tools
- Getting your Message Out
- Taking Advantage of Other Free and/or Low-cost PR Options
- Integrating Social Media Into Traditional Public Relations
Here are a few additional resources to help you ramp up your organization’s media relations efforts:
- Joanne Fritz (About.com Guide): published a helpful post recently: The Good Pitch: How to Impress Bloggers and Reporters
- PRWeb offers a very comprehensive resource – Writing Great Online News Releases – that you can download – here: Please note that to download this guide, you’ll have to provide some information as well as signing into a PRWeb account.
Share your organization's success - let us know if and how you've used press releases to raise awareness or promote your cause in the comments below.