Is your press release like a message in a bottle?

This evergreen post was published on our blog in 2009. We have updated it for today.

When to use press releases

Is a press release any good anymore?

Depends.

If you are pitching a national story with strong news interest and relevance, you can use a release to make sure select outlets and journalists you interact with have all the information they need. However, if you are just using it like a message in a bottle, casting it out on the water just to see who answers; not so much.

Press releases have evolved

The use of press releases has evolved. Releases are a great tool for reaching prospective customers if you publish them to your own website. Self-publishing them to your blog or newsroom first is critical. Avoid putting them on multiple free press release sites as these move traffic away from your own site and this tactic has sailed like a ghost ship over the horizon. Google even may mark your website as spam if you post press releases to non-relevant sites. The reality is that releases can help you deepen content on your website and are great when optimized well to bring interested customers to your site.

The days of mass blasting of a news release are gone. Or they should be. If your public relations consultant says this is what you should do, run! What is imperative is a carefully crafted pitch to bloggers, social media followers and interested journalists with whom you’ve developed relationships. Get to know journalists in your field first. With bloggers, seek permission to send a release or know that they are open to receiving your release before you send it. And for all outlets and journalists, make sure to deliver your press release in the manner that they request. Some reporters and editors no longer wish to receive press releases via e-mail and have returned to the days of snail mail.

Relationships come first

Don’t wait to get to know bloggers and journalists; develop your relationship with them over the course of time. Follow them on social media. Reading and following their writing, interacting with them on social media and commenting on their work. Create value and become a known source and then when you have a story to pitch or news to share, they frequently are much more open to receiving it.

If you need help attracting attention for newsworthy stories from your business, give us a call. We’d love to provide our counsel to your business.

Do you make promises you can keep?

How true are your brand’s promises? 

This post was originally published on our blog in 2011 and has been updated and re-published.

Growing up in a small town in South Carolina meant that everybody knew everybody’s business. So, when a cheating spouse was spotted slipping around with someone other than their lawfully wedded partner, it was across town in fifteen minutes, tops. Some partners just can’t keep their promises.

Sometimes companies are like straying marriage partners; they can’t keep their promises. I mean brand promises. In marketing your brand’s promise is the inherent pact you create with consumers based on your marketing, your communications via e-mail, phone and face-to-face.

Promise Keeper or Promise Breaker?

If you can’t keep your promises, you might offer *quality products* and then break the implicit brand promise to the consumer by refusing to replace that quality product when it fails. Or you might say you care about your customers and have the world’s hardest to negotiate phone system, demonstrating how you don’t care. How about the oft read claims, “Worlds best food” or similar notations printed on menus and then never read the customer suggestions deposited in the “Suggestions” box.

Have you ever reviewed your actions and communications to determine if you are keeping the promises you state or imply? You may be startled to learn the truth, or then you may find out you are a faithful partner.

One of the most derided consumer facing brands is Comcast, now called Xfinity. Consumers regularly call out the poor customer service they have experienced. Yet, on their customer service website the leader of the division states that you — the customer — is priority number one and that the company is there for you. Yet this doesn’t square with examples such as this tweet:

 

While there was an Xfinity response to this tweet, there is no method for the public to judge who is more truthful, especially since a search for the company name and customer service brings up hundreds of tweets about the lack of service . One of the most basic rules of branding is: The last interaction the consumer had with the brand is the brand’s promise, kept or broken. Faith is difficult to earn, hard to prove and very easy lose.

While national brands are always going to struggle in the face of consumers who may not comprehend, accept or understand your terms of service, limits of liability and other aspects of meeting their needs, your brand must always strive to provide evidence of care and concern. This begins with open, transparent help and support and demonstrations of sympathy. With regard to this, Comcast / Xfinity gets that right with their message 


Never forget, consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your brand. 

How can you ensure you have demonstrated your caring?  

6 Points to Review to Determine if Yours is a Faithful Brand

  1. Is there congruence between your outward marketing messages and your corporate behavior?
  2. Do you take regular customer satisfaction surveys that allow anonymous responses?
  3. Do you publish the findings from your consumer surveys, at least as customer concerns slated for improvement?
  4. Do you regularly implement a series of steps to correct the negative findings from your surveys?
  5. Does your senior staff model all the brand promises?
  6. So you allow staff and employees to have an active hand in the company’s direction? AND Do you have a method of surveying your employees for their views on the company’s direction?

Does Your Website Fit?

 

Business website planning when done well yields results. Have you spent time wisely?

At start-up, you allocate funds to equip your office, purchase computers and software to manage your business. However, did you allocate business website planning time and funds to get the website your business needs to attract the right customers and present your brand correctly?

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Websites are not “one-size fits all” solutions. To get one that is tailored precisely for your business needs, you must know:

  1. Who your primary customers are
  2. What they search for on the Internet
  3. How your products and services fulfill their needs and wants
  4. What is the primary purpose of your website
  5. What is the primary action your site’s visitors should take
  6. Who is going to manage your website and keep it updated
  7. How will you track success or quantify conversions
  8. How will you market your website

These insights help you develop buyer personas for each potential customer visiting your website—and they may be different than other buyer personas you’ve developed for face to face sales. Buyer personas in turn help your web design and development firm to create the site that will support your business goals.

Of course, you know your business goals are not the same as your competitors. And you know your brand must have a different selling proposition—one which positions your company distinctively when compared to your competition.

Tailored for Your Business

We often see people with great ideas and stellar business concepts essentially shutting the door to potential opportunity when they decide that their website can be created by their friend’s teenage son or by using cheap web site development templates or online site building tools.

They make the mistake of buying “off the rack” and getting a template or design that was made to fit just about anybody. What often happens after purchasing off the rack? They spend their precious dollars having a web developer reverse engineer the template to fit their business brand and goals.

Isn’t it much more efficient to build what is best going to suit your business? This is a no-waste strategy. Get exactly the right solution for exactly your goals.

Don’t expect that you can figure this out in an afternoon, or a day or even a week. You will need to do some homework. Know how your competitors’ sites function. You must look at lots of websites—within and without your industry. Evaluate what works as you use a site and what frustrates you. Try, if you can, to think like a customer, not as the business. Analyze what makes you leave a site or what makes you stay. And most importantly, what makes you take a particular action? All these insights will clarify for you and your web developer how to design and implement the site your firm needs which will fit the needs of your customers. Remember, the customer is the ultimate user, not you. It is her you must satisfy.

Your website is your twenty-four-seven-three-sixty-five overview of your firm, lead generator and answer provider—and if you offer e-commerce, your always-open online store.

And if you already have a website for your business does it gain you leads? Does it offer all the right information to your customers? Have you ever asked your customers what they like best about your site or like least? Do you track how successful it is? If you cannot answer these questions definitively, then you may need to invest the time and take a fresh look at your site. And you may need to give it a boost or even a redesign so it works. After all, if your site doesn’t work for you what good is it?

Start With the End In Mind

How can you get started planning your website? We provide this planning questionnaire to our customers. Use it. Doing so will help you spend wisely, and will yield you a custom tailored website that fits your business, and which helps you get the right kind of leads to grow your business.

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash