Some B2B marketers are big fans of online press releases. They’re relatively easy to write and can be distributed to thousands of news outlets with the click of a button thanks to online distribution services such as PRNewswire and Cision (which are in the process of becoming one company, by the way — you can read the press release here).
The putative goal of online press releases is to increase visibility. In the first place, they are ways to share company news. Second, they can be used to build earned links to your website, thereby increasing search visibility.
Unfortunately, many have operated under the misperception that the direct links from an online press release — when it gets “picked up” and republished on various news outlet websites — are the ones that matter. This has not been the case since the release of Google’s Penguin 2.0 update in 2013, which basically took the stance that online press releases are paid media (which they basically are).
In actuality, the links that matter are the ones that appear in the stories that result from the online press releases one sends out. As Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, said back in 2005: “I’m not against doing press releases; press releases can be a useful part of getting traffic and building a brand. For ranking in Google, however, the main benefit of a press release is not direct links or PageRank from the press release directly; it’s primarily the people who decide to write an article and link because of that.”
So how does one get this sort of real coverage? Well, the answer hinges on the quality of your content or, in the case of a press release, the newsworthiness of your news. We return, then, to the primary function of a press release, which is to share company news.
What Makes a Press Release Newsworthy?
Let’s start off by thinking through the basis for any press release. Ask yourself, quite simply: Is it something “new” that other people — other than the ones involved in it — will want to know about and may even benefit from knowing about?
If the answer to this question is “no,” then it is probably not worthy of a release. If “yes,” then you may be on to something.
However, the answer to the question really hinges on who the “people” are that might consume the release or any stories that result from it. For many smaller industrial companies, for instance, the audience for their online press releases will likely be a small group of B2B peers and trade media publications. Larger, publicly traded industrial companies, on the other hand, will likely use online press releases as a way to communicate with shareholders and the financial press.
10 Reasons for B2Bs to Issue Online Press Releases
While determining what warrants a press release will ultimately depend on your industry, your position within it, and your intended audience, here are 10 reasons why any industrial company may want to issue online press releases.
If you are acquiring a company or being acquired, it’s important to inform your peers. Direct outreach should be made with existing customers, of course, but a press release for your general industry audience will help mitigate any confusion about how your company and its new partner have joined together.
Similarly, if you change your company identity as a result of a rebranding effort, a press release will be an important communication that will help the media and your customers connect the dots as they begin to acquaint themselves with your new brand identity.
3. Product Launch
Whether your new product is extremely innovative or an important extension of an existing product line, the trade will want to know about it. Use the press release as an opportunity to educate readers about the product’s distinguishing characteristics and potential applications — i.e., tell them why you developed it in the first place.
If you’ve created a unique product or process and have been awarded a patent, let the world know. Public documentation will help strengthen your claim if any intellectual property difficulties arise in the future. Make sure, though, that you include specific information about the patent to facilitate follow-up reporting, such as your patent number.
If you receive a competitive award, it deserves mention. Don’t forget, though, to talk about the innovation, product, or program that warranted the award in the first place. It’s not the fact that you won an award that is interesting; it’s the underlying cause for the award that really matters.
Celebrating a milestone in your company history can be cause for a press release. But make sure you are spreading the word about some sort of anniversary-specific activity you are undertaking, such as a special anniversary-themed product, an exhibit, or a promotion. Just calling out that you hit a milestone is not enough.
While many companies receive and renew certifications routinely, certain certifications, such as ISO 9001, can catapult a company into a new category of doing business. While there may not be anything unusual about the achievement, it’s important to raise your hand and let others in your vertical know that you have capabilities that make you eligible to pursue new business relationships.
Creating a new division or opening a new office or facility are important logistical developments that should be shared. The former likely means new priorities, which industrial peers should know about. And a new base of operations can mean expanded capabilities or greater entrenchment in key geographic markets.
9. Key Hire
Sometimes an exceptional hire is cause for a press release. If your company hires a well-known business personality or appoints someone to head a new division that expands your company’s capabilities, a well-positioned press release could garner some interviews.
10. Job Creation
While a single hire rarely warrants a press release, multiple hires can add up to a story about job creation. If you can place your hiring activities in the context of local or regional economic development, you may just get a news story or two out of it — thereby driving more and better-qualified job applications, assuming you’re still hiring.
Think Before Your Release
At the end of the day, online press releases should be used sparingly. After all, most companies don’t rebrand, file a successful patent, or open a new division every day. If you’re using online press releases more liberally, it may be time to take a step back and reevaluate your communications strategy.