Dana | on Marketing Messages: Say Goodbye to the 'One-and-Done' News or Press Release
A typical news release has one main purpose—to make an announcement to the media. But it has a ton of other uses. Most printers don’t make the most of their news items.
This column will help change all that. Say goodbye to the “one-and-done” news or press release. Say hello to the news item that gets tailored to different uses. It then gets shared across multiple channels, where it can do your company much more good.
One of the most common reasons for writing and distributing a news release is the purchase and installation of new equipment. I see these all the time and have written quite a few. It’s a terrific reason to make an announcement, no doubt about it.
The first concern is simply this: who gets this news item? I have built my own Media List over time (which keeps changing, of course) for my own releases. This list comprises sites, portals, media leaders, editors, publishers, publications and other types of influencers that I believe will be 1) interested and likely to read my release; 2) more apt to publish my news when appropriate; and 3) possibly interested in contacting me to follow up, maybe for an interview or an article. So getting certain media to share my news is one key objective, as I hope certain recipients will put my news in front of people and companies that might want to do business with me.
A printer’s news release about new equipment would start the same way. You create your own Media List that keeps evolving. Maybe it includes trade associations of which you’re a member; major industry Web portals like www.piworld.com (natch!); key suppliers of paper, ink and other job consumables; and editors of local business newspapers and industry trade publications.
These kinds of releases tend to run “very dry,” in that they focus on the manufacturer’s make and model of the new installation. Such technical specifications matter more, and are more appropriate, for many on your Media List. Certainly your key suppliers want to know these specs.
When I ask a printer or other client what they do next with their release—specifically if their customers have been told about the news—nine times out of 10 what I hear is dead silence. Sometimes I get, “Our sales guys have told them.” But mostly it’s no, the customers haven’t been told. The news release lived a short, single-rocket-launch little life. It went out one day to a Media List, got uploaded to the News section of the company’s Website and, well, that’s all she wrote. (Make sure your news announcement gets posted to your site in an obvious place.)
At this point, the hard part is done. You’ve written and distributed your news release to the media. Now it’s a matter of identifying who else should know about this news so you can revise the content to fit the audience—and the channel.
Let’s stick with the subject matter of a new piece of equipment. Start to think about additional audiences for this news, how to reach each audience, plus the appropriate rewrites or “iterations” of your original news release that need to take place for each channel.
Your customers need to know that you’ve got some new equipment, especially if it’s major, like a new press, a piece of finishing equipment, a first-ever mailing facility, and so on. Don’t put the onus on your sales reps to deliver the news. It’s great if they tell their accounts, but there are better and more effective ways to get the word out.
Choose the Best Method of Delivery
Decide how you’re going to send clients and prospects this news. If you have a solid customer e-mail list, I’d absolutely recommend sending them an e-mail announcement.
You could send customers a letter—instead of or in addition to an e-mail. I know that e-mail fatigue affects the likelihood of my opening e-mails these days, whereas I usually open a #10 letter, and I always open one from a service provider of mine. So a letter makes sense.
Create a direct mail piece, like a postcard, to feature this new acquisition, and mail that to your customers instead of a letter. Postcards have the added benefits of being in four-color (usually) and include images, making them more creative and appealing than a business letter.
Don’t overlook former, or what I call “quiet,” customers. There’s no harm in sharing your big news—such as a new digital press that makes variable data jobs a snap—with former customers. The same goes for warm prospects. Major announcements are all good reasons to spread the word to prospects and customers you’ve not heard from in months or years.
If your company is active in social media, that’s the next step to consider. I’d focus on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as Facebook if you use it for business. And if you’re a company that posts videos to YouTube, creating a little video about a new installation is obviously recommended.
These are all appropriate channels for a printer to consider for the purpose of maximizing the lifespan of a news release and leveraging your announcement.
There’s just one critical task left to do before scheduling and distributing the information, and it should be obvious. You need to rewrite or modify the content of the news release.
A printer’s news release about equipment is heavy on specifications and features. It’s generally low on benefits to customers and prospects. In case you’re thinking of taking the easy way out by copying/pasting the body of your release into an e-mail or onto your letterhead for a mailing, I beg you to reconsider.
Read the contents of your release through the eyes of a customer and a prospect. You may serve print buyers, graphic designers, marketers, other printers, or consumers. How and what you write about your new equipment depends on who’ll be reading it.
This perspective must guide the rewrite of your release. Approach it by thinking, “What’s in it for them?” Describe the new equipment in terms that relate to their problems and needs. What can this new piece of equipment create that you’ve not been able to do before? What kinds of applications are suited to it? What’s special about it?
The good news is that a rewrite is generally shorter than the original release. As I’ve said, the hard work has been done. You just need to change the copy to fit the audience and the channel. A blog for your site is longer than an e-mail, which is longer than a LinkedIn post, which is different from a Facebook post, which is clearly different from a tweet, the shortest guy of all.
You can and should get a lot of mileage out of news releases. Whether they announce an acquisition, an upcoming customer event, a newly hired sales executive or company president, or a move to a bigger facility, there are many ways to rewrite and repurpose the news in multiple channels.
It’s all about making some noise where it will do your company the most good. That one document, the news release, is an all-purpose utensil like the Swiss Army knife. Tucked away are additional tools you can use. Pull out the ones you need for different purposes. Nothing could be handier. PI
About the Author
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She’s as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference. Although she’s exited the event business, she is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She is as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference.
Although she has exited the event business, Dana is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com