Getting free publicity to drive traffic to your online store may seem like an impossible dream for marketers – but if you know the right tricks, it can be a lucrative way to generate new sales and inquiries. Nothing can guarantee a press release will end up being featured, but careful preparation will certainly increase your chances of a successful feature being published. Without further ado, here are our “top four” press release tips to use in your marketing strategy for 2016:
ONE: PARTNER WITH A LOCAL, HIGH-PROFILE CHARITY
Think about your target market, your avatar. What causes are likely to be close to their heart? Hopefully, you’ll easily be able to find of a charity that you already support or have considered supporting that will tick the box for them, too.
Then you can organize an event, project, or promotion to support your chosen charity. Some suggestions to power up your idea mill:
- Get the director’s permission to allow employees to take “free” time off to work on a local charity project or support a charity in their work for a day
- Hold a sponsored walk, run, drive, ride…
- Donate the prize for a competition/prize draw/raffle and promote the sale of tickets, or offer a free entry to the competition with every qualifying order during a certain time period
- Hold a themed fancy dress day in support of the charity
- Offer to donate $1 to the charity for every person that completes your customer feedback survey during a certain week or month (this tactic has proven instrumental in hugely boosting survey response rates for a IT support company recently)
- Offer to donate a percentage of all sales on a specific day or days to the charity you have selected (and promote this fact well in advance, also asking the charity to do so to their supporters)
- Donate a piece of equipment to support the charity, and arrange a “handover” event with a photographer in attendance
This is just a small selection, but there are so many ways you can do this – be creative – what method can you come up with?!
This strategy may seem cynical, but it can be a huge “win-win-win” for all parties involved:
- The charity benefits from the increased publicity and whatever donations you give or raise on their behalf
- Your customers get a “warm glow” from knowing they not only satisfied a requirement that they had anyway, they also supported a charity with aims they believe in at the same time
- And finally, your company benefits from increased local publicity, brand recognition, online traffic, new case studies and material to share online, social media likes, follows, and mentions – and that’s just the start of it!
This is our favorite tip of all, as it carries a huge feel good factor. Partner with a charity that does great work for a cause you are passionate about and chances are you’ll bring a whole new level of passion to your work! Charity connects with the brain at a different level to commerce. Studies have shown that successful nonprofit organizations develop hugely powerful brands due to this effect.
Best of all, charitable events tend to be attractive to newspapers and online news outlets who are always on the lookout for “human interest” stories. In your press release, include a few good pictures that focus on people and also discretely feature your brand or product in some way.
You can also make the value keep on coming in by asking the charity to share links to your promotions on social media (where these promotions support the charity in some way) and by writing up plenty of blog posts and news releases on your website and social media channels. These are the kind of updates that if well planned, cannot fail to get a good bunch of “likes”!
TWO – USE THIS CHECKLIST TO WRITE A PRESS RELEASE JOURNALISTS WILL WANT TO READ
You could spend hours assembling all the components of a good story, but if it doesn’t catch the attention of the media, all that effort will have been in vain. Here are some quick and easy pointers to give your press release the best chance of being noticed and read:
- Include your full name and contact information at the top of the page (or at the start of the email)
- Use a relevant, specific, interesting title – written in the style of a newspaper headline e.g. “Local Businesswomen Finds New Solution to Age-Old Problem”
- Begin with a short introductory paragraph that includes all of the most important points in your story
- Make sure your press release tells Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How – but no more! Shorter releases are more likely to be read, and you need to avoid unnecessary “padding” and “filler words” – journalists like releases that get straight to the point
- Think like the audience of the news outlet you are pitching to. What kind of words do they use? What matters to them? How can you catch their attention specifically?
- Avoid hyperbole, exaggeration, and excessive self-congratulation or promotion
- Make sure you include at least one photograph that is in focus, bright, colorful, and full of human interest e.g. likely to provoke an emotional response. (Think of the photos in newspapers, news websites, or magazines that get your attention.)
If you can find a way to tie your news release in with a subject that is topical or is attracting a lot of local or national interest, then you will have a much greater chance of getting it featured. One final point on this tip – if you are sending your press release via email, ensure it is in the body of the message rather than attached to it to ensure maximum reading.
THREE – BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL REPORTERS AND JOURNALISTS
Identify who your local “news hounds” are and look for opportunities to socialize or meet them somehow. Read their work and if appropriate make positive comments about it. Maybe you get a chance to contribute on a local matter that is not related to business. Whether it is a petition, an event, or a town planning meeting – chip in and have your say, and make sure you get the contact details of the journalists attending at the same time. Maybe you can tip them off about a news event in your place as a favor – now, you will be far more likely to get your press release featured!
If you have a budget for local advertising, you can use this to your advantage. When purchasing media space, talk to the sales representative about other promotion opportunities and ask if they can ensure an upcoming event will benefit from a feature. As they are eager to secure your business, they will be likely to cooperate with their news desk – particularly in smaller publications!
Strong personal relationships are the basis of all great business partnerships, of course, but with the media they can be particularly beneficial, helping not only to get positive publicity for the company you are marketing but also helping if there is a potentially damaging story you need to handle, ensuring that any negativity is swiftly counteracted.
Think about ways you can help them, as well as ways they can help you. Could you help them boost sales of their publication or traffic to their website by sharing with them a special discount code or coupon for your online store? This kind of tactic can work well with special events or promotions.
FOUR – ARRANGE A NEWSWORTHY EVENT
Events are perfect material for generating news coverage. You could combine it with a charitable benefit as covered in the first tip, or you can just organize a corporate event in its own right to invite journalists to.
Here are a few ideas for