Recently, thought leaders in the public relations space have been spilling ink over the question of inbound versus outbound news releases (or, if you prefer, push versus pull media relations). The general question is which is more effective:
- Using inbound efforts to gain exposure for your news stories by optimizing your online coverage via search engine optimization and syndication across multiple Web portals (hoping journalists, bloggers and consumers find you), or
- Using outbound efforts to reach targeted journalists and bloggers to draw attention to your story in an effort to garner traditional and online coverage.
With the obvious caveat that each story is different and tactics should be adapted accordingly, I’m wondering why one has to choose between push and pull. This isn’t a game of tug-of-war folks; you are looking for the best ways to share your news with mainstream and new media, bloggers and even consumers.
I work with public relations firms, associations and businesses small and large every day on making releases more effective. My true expertise is on the “outbound” side of the equation, but we’ve long advised clients to integrate those efforts with inbound tactics and incorporate social media elements for maximum effectiveness.
I wanted to share a few facts regarding inbound and outbound tactics, some info regarding what we’ve learned from our ongoing conversations with the media, and a few tips on how you can efficiently and effectively maximize your release efforts, taking advantage of social media and the shift to digital news creation and consumption.
So here it goes …First, the most important things to know about outbound news release tactics:
Journalists have less time to do more work and are driven to publish more and more web content: 60 percent of journalists say they have acquired web responsibilities in addition to their traditional duties in the past two years. So, they’re more reliant than ever on their own inboxes, on good public relations people, and on news releases. They need story ideas, easy access to relevant collateral (images, etc.), and digital content (video with embed codes, etc.). Eighty-nine percent of journalists say they want to get relevant releases via email, but most senders are not taking advantage of e-mail’s capabilities to really follow the golden rule of releases: giving recipients exactly what they want, how they want it. (*If you want to do it right, get yourself a good HTML vendor who understands the medium and, whatever you do, do not send unasked-for attachments!)
The most important things to know about inbound news release tactics:
- Web portals, such as Google News and Yahoo Finance, select and republish releases based on three things: relationship with sender, keywords in the release, and hand-selection based on portals’ interests and criteria. Due to their relationships, traditional wire services such as Business Wire or MarketWire deliver better syndication across Web portals than social media releases. But whether you put your release on a single market distribution or send it across the country, the syndication is the same, so you can save some money by sending a small distribution without sacrificing exposure. Select good key words to use in your release, keep the headline and body copy short (up to 80 characters for headline and 500 words for release), avoid formatting, and write out your URLs for the most important links (some portals don’t support formatting or anchor text).
The most important thing to know about how social media fits into the mix:
- Only 26 percent of journalists say they’re currently using social media to find stories, and those who are using social media have mixed feelings about connecting with public relations professionals on their favorite social platforms. However, many of the elements founds in social media releases — bookmarks, sphere links, social media footprints inviting readers to befriend your brand — can be very effective and are unobtrusive if well-incorporated. And digital content such as images, video and links to tactical tips–familiar from old fashioned ekits and electronic press kits as well as the newer social media releases–are a must given the drive to create digital content for today’s reporters.
Whew, that was a lot of info stuffed into three little (okay, big) bullet points, huh? But how do you do all that?
Let me sum up what we see working: Send a branded release via e-mail to targeted journalists and incorporate social media, mulit-media and digital elements in that version. Then, put a format-light version of the same release on a small wire distribution. Be sure to add the URL address (written out in full) of your digital release to the version of the release you put on the wire: for example, for a multi-media version of this (sample) release, click here (www.pwrnewmedia.com/site08/pages/portfolio_samples.html ). Voila! You’ve integrated your inbound and outbound efforts and taken advantage of social media in a user-friendly way.
But if that answer doesn’t satisfy, we’ve fleshed out the details in this slideshare, Outbound and Inbound News Release Tactics, and you’re welcome to get in touch with us at PWR New Media anytime via our site, blog, Twitter, Facebook or a good old-fashioned e-mail.
Join Williams for her teleseminar, “Digital Media and Today’s Electronic News Release: Make it Easy for Journalists to Pick Up Your Story,” on Tuesday, July 16, 2009, at 3 p.m. EDT!