The Impact of Press Releases on the Sales Funnel

May 14, 2014

By Billy Russell, Customer Service Representative, Business Wire Phoenix

In 2014, as demographics in the workforce shift, so does the marketing and sales cycle. What used to take a handful of “touches” to sell, now takes much more time and effort by both the company and the purchaser.

So why is this change so relevant to PR and why is PR so important to today’s sales and marketing funnel? PR is the most efficient and time-trusted way to generate the enormous number of interactions required to sell your organization, your products or philosophy. After all, you can create and launch a wide range of marketing materials, product videos and social programs on your own platforms, but to get the level of visibility and adoption needed to drive true impact, you need PR to promote them.

Learn more about how PR can impact and assist in moving customers in and through today’s elongated sales funnel at CommPro.biz: http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/support-pr-driving-sales/


How to Measure the ROI or Impact of a Press Release in 2014

May 8, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Almost every day, clients ask our teams how to determine the return of investment when it comes to news distribution services.  Thanks to better monitoring and tracking services, tracking the true ROI of a press release has never been easier. Not every press release may be accountable for immediate conversion or sales, but there is no denying its impact in the promotion of the news and content relevant to each organization’s core audiences.

Defining ROI: ROI is simply one’s return on investment or the overall cost of the creation and distribution of your press release vs the financial impact of this outreach within the company’s goals.

How Press Releases Align to the Marketing Funnel

How Press Releases Align to the Marketing Funnel

Press releases are documents written to activate audiences.  These audiences, defined by PR, IR, marketing and management teams, include customers, prospects, stockholders, employees, brand fans, industry experts and other stakeholders.

Smart teams build customer journey maps for each audience that outline the desired outcome for each step of the decision process. Many take it a step further by assigning a dollar value to each customer (referred to as the customer’s lifetime value or LTV).  Journey maps help communicators identify content positioning, while distribution vehicles and assets maximize each piece of content’s overall impact.

Distributing Your Content: Before determining content and news distribution options, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the goal of the news you are sharing out?  Are you alerting media to new products, or showcasing thought leadership with white papers and infographics?
  • What is the expected outcome of this news or content?
  • What audience can share this news out to drive the highest impact on your goals?
  • What audience reactions affect this outcome?
  • What assets are you including to increase ROI?
  • Increasing awareness with coverage?
  • Driving action with inbound traffic?
  • Driving advocacy with social sharing?
  • What distribution options provide both highly targeted and wide visibility?
  • What sharing options do I need to include to increase impact?
  • How can I track ROI

How it Works: Let’s assume the news you are sharing promotes a white paper, video or other piece of content to increase awareness within core audiences and move them into and through your marketing and sales funnel.  How would you distribute this content in a holistic manner that drives meaningful action?

The Path of the Press Release

The Path of the Press Release

Writing Your Release: The first step is to write a well written release. There are many great examples of how to do this, such as this: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/sample-press-release/. Once written, make sure your release is fully optimized for usage by media as well as for reading by today’s search engines.

Using Your OWN Channels: Every company already has brand fans!  Alerting these existing audiences of new content is a terrific way to increase impact.  Place your press release and assets within your corporate newsroom, on your blog and across social channels. Distribute the news directly through email mailing lists, including social share buttons to jump start social sharing.

The Power of Paid: While placing your content on your own channels is a no brainer, this tactic alone most likely will not provide the visibility needed to reach your goals.  This is the time to consider paid promotion.  For years, PR professionals have been leveraging paid channels to increase impact and visibility of all kinds of news. And for good reason. To this day, even now in 2014, commercial newswires provide the best ROI when it comes to news distribution. To ensure the highest possible return on investment for your press release, take a close look at your news distribution options.

  • First, determine what geographic region does your news impact? Where are your decision makers located? Are they in specific parts of the country or world?
  • Next, get granular with industry and vertical market reach. Did you write the press release to inform investors, impact IT decision makers, or activate today’s increasingly powerful Hispanic purchasers?
  • Then, understand that to drive meaningful impact, today’s press releases and content must include multimedia. With thousands of news, stories distributed each day, and fewer reporters than ever, the inclusion of an asset may be the key differentiator separating your news from that of your competitors.

visual world

  • Finally, consider promoting your content with paid advertising.  One popular way PR pros are increasing the impact of coverage is by placing them within native advertising blocs such as dlvr.it (included in your Business Wire distribution) and Outbrain.

EARNED Media Increases Results Significantly: Even the most interesting stories may never reach interested readers and reporters without outreach. Once your news is live and your content is available, reach out to leading reporters and identified industry influencers to discuss coverage focus that engages their audiences and yours. Repeated studies show that coverage has a direct impact on moving audiences into marketing and sales funnels.

To increase the success of your outreach efforts, focus your pitch on the impact your content will have on their readers, and do not forget to reference or include multimedia assets.  Today’s most successful online stories include supplemental photo essays and statistical videos.

SHARING Your Coverage: Nothing moves audiences in and through the marketing funnel better  than recommendations, referrals or shares of smart, interesting news by friends and family.  Not only should you share out coverage you receive, you should make it easy for your audiences to share your information as well.  Include calls to actions directly within your press release (see here for an example) to simplify sharing by content readers.

MEASURING Your Success: There are several ways to measure the success of this kind of PR program.  One of the easiest things you can do is look at the metrics reports created by each distribution platform.  Most press release measurement metrics, such as the ones below, focus on overall views and generated actions.

Picture2

Coverage: The first and oldest metric of PR has been the amount of coverage your news and content generated, the placement (and its impact on core audiences), length of article, assets included, message permeation and more.

Visibility: The second step in measuring the impact of the press release is wide awareness of news.  How broadly was the news shared, who shared it and which audiences impacted the marketing funnel the most–was it editorial coverage?  Influencer shares of that coverage?  Did employee sharing increase word-of-mouth marketing? Did the multimedia assets you included increase impact?

Geo-Impact: Another terrific metric available to PR professionals is the ability to see what regions, locally and globally, the news resonated within.  This data can be acted upon immediately by continuing the discussion with paid advertising or a concentrated sales effort, allowing sales teams to strike while the conversational iron is hot!

Social Shares: When tracking social impact, first look at the number of influencers talking about your news, and the number of overall news shares.  Social sharing analysis should also look at message adoption and associated hashtags usage.

Inbound Traffic: Measuring inbound traffic is easy!  Simply add a URL Builder or extension to any URL within your press release that drives traffic back to your website (create this as a hyperlink).  Then, once someone clicks those links, you can track their actions within your website.

Of course, not all media outlets will include hyperlinks to your website, so it is key to note that this will only be a snapshot of the traffic driven in. It is key to look at all increases in followers, or inbound traffic that occurs during the news cycle to get a more accurate look at the traffic you generated.

Owned Channel Registrations: Include links to join your other owned channels including following social channels or signing up for a newsletter.  This enables interested parties to take the first step in creating a relationship with your organization.

As you can see from the above, there is a very real place for the press release, and press release distribution platforms in today’s news and content distribution services. Now, with a few easy additions, communication professionals can highlight their significance quickly and easily.

So what do you think? Do you agree with this program? Is this something you could and would implement?


Why Multimedia is Required in Today’s Press Releases

April 30, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

visuals-bw2Earlier today, CommPro published a summary piece highlighting the importance of multimedia within press releases. We discuss this topic at great length with our customers.

The truth is, reporters are no longer interested in writing stories based on text only press release. And for good reason, study after study has shown that whenever images are inserted into the communication, the impact increases.

Still on the fence about adding photos, videos, gifs, images and more to your press releases?  We highly encourage you to read this piece.  Have questions about the creation or distribution of multimedia within the PR process?  Let us know!


Editor’s Corner: Putting Faces with Names: Getting The Most Out Of Personnel Announcements

January 7, 2014

By Dara Khan, Business Wire Editor

 When you submit a personnel announcement to Business Wire, our editors are the first eyes on your staffing news. Our talented and experienced newsroom team reviews hundreds of news items per week, and we have developed a pretty good sense of what elements make them successful. Here’s one editor’s take on putting together a winning press release for announcing hires, promotions, or other staffing changes in your organization.

Natalie

The best piece of advice I can give is to include multimedia with your press release.

When you meet people for the first time, you remember them by both their names and faces. This is true in press releases as well; by including a photo of the person, you make it easy for reporters, analysts and others to put face to the name. We editors know from experience that releases with a photo—whether of a new executive hire or a retiring founder—instantly capture readers’ attention, and our research has shown that releases with photos or other multimedia generate five to ten times more pickup than those without them. That is just from adding a photo or video to your news release!

However, there are other ways to increase your press release’s visibility.Broader distribution of press releases allows for reporters and other brand fans to find and share your news.  But why not consider adding a targeted specialty circuit to increase visibility within highly specific target markets? If you’ve made a prominent minority hire, consider the Asian-American Media, African-American Media or LatinoWire circuits, which all heavily target media in markets that can be difficult to reach through broader channels. If your release is about someone who has made significant contributions through nonprofit and charity work, consider the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) circuit. If you’re running a cutting-edge startup and just added a big name to your team, congrats! Now is the perfect time to take advantage of BW’s new partnership with VentureBeat.  Each of these distributions reaches a highly targeted list of reporters and media outlets, all viewing and sharing these kinds of announcements on a daily basis.

At the end of the day, the foundation of a good personnel announcement is a concise and well-written press release. This may seem like a very basic tip, but it is surprising how often we see releases that are unnecessarily long, overly wordy, or lack quotations from or about the personnel in question. That last part is especially important.  Why? Because including quotes is another great way to capture the human element—and the attention of readers. These quotes are so frequently sought after that Business Wire’s system actually automatically generates highlighted pull quotes from those sections!  These pull quotes appear on the businesswire.com version for your release (as well as via our PressPass media news service), so be sure to use that to your advantage by making them shine.

Lastly, do not hesitate to call your local Business Wire newsroom or account executive to discuss more ways to get the most out of your personnel announcements. One thing that sets BW apart is the degree of hands-on, personalized service from our 24 local news bureaus. As the only commercial newswire with this many editorial offices, Business Wire has editors and a sales team who are always ready to help you send your press release out to the biggest possible audience. We always look forward to hearing from you!


Media Consumption in 2013: The Risks of Ignoring Mobile

November 18, 2013

By Simon Ogus, Media Relations Specialist

The sight is so common now; it doesn’t even register with us anymore.

You see someone with a few minutes to kill, whether it be waiting for a bus or an appointment, and inevitably the smartphone comes out and the individual is immediately engaged with the apps and web that are so easily accessible.

This is media consumption in 2013 and there is no going back.

With web networks continually getting stronger and Wi-Fi becoming more readily available in public places, the public’s mobile consumption will continue on the meteoric rise that it’s on right now. Consider this graph below from Business Insider detailing the U.S. Consumer Media Consumption Share of Voice:

Source: Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

The graph above shows consumption for all forms of major media. Television and print media are steadily declining with their users often simultaneously engaged with some second screen device, especially during valuable commercial time.  Meanwhile, mobile use is steadily rising.

There are many reasons for this trend, but first and foremost is that when you are on the go, mobile has no competitors. It’s convenient, provides immediate gratification, and there isn’t as much opportunity for distraction as there is when you are watching television, reading a newspaper/magazine or even sitting down with your laptop at home or at a coffee shop.

There is considerable data to suggest that these trends will not only continue but continue in a dramatic fashion. Consider these facts in a recent Business Insider report on mobile media consumption.

  • Consumers are spending as much time on mobile as they are in the traditional online category (which includes all activity on desktops and laptops).
  • Mobile was the only media type to grow in total U.S. consumer minutes spent per day from 2010 to 2012.
  • In the course of 2013, tablet shipments have grown 83% while PC shipments dropped 13%.
  • Mobile video is already big, but it’s poised to become even bigger. Consumers are watching at almost unheard of rates. They’re also sticking to their mobile devices for longer periods of time while watching. This gives marketers more time and opportunity to place ads within streaming video content.
  • The 219 million mobile-only users now make up close to 20% of Facebook’s total user base and Pinterest’s U.S. mobile-only user base grew 28% reaching 18.3 million in June 2013.  Facebook in particular has made significant progress monetizing this growing  audience: mobile advertisements now represent 41% of its ad revenue.
  • Search is also becoming increasingly mobile. Tablets and smartphones now account for 26% of all local search traffic.

Business Insider’s reference to the development of mobile websites is particularly significant and shows that this trend is for real. As developers continue to make mobile websites quicker and more efficient, consumer usage of mobile search and mobile brand interaction will continue to grow.

Early versions of mobile websites were less user-friendly, but the newer interfaces are improving so rapidly that it is becoming less and less of an issue.

What does this mean going forward for today’s brands and organizations? It means that any information disseminated through the web needs to be easily accessed and consumed from a tablet or smartphone. Organizations can do this by first creating a fast, mobile-friendly website utilizing responsive design.  This will ensure easier access to your content whether it is read on the desktop, smartphone or tablet.

The second step is serving up content directly of interest to mobile users. Mobile phones are lean-in devices, people do not pick them up without wanting to take an action. Use your Google Analytics to help you determine what content you should present first on your mobile website.  For most brands it is contact information, including a phone number, then links to internal sections of the website including the About Us and newsroom.

Today’s mobile newsrooms and press releases also require mobile-ready formatting.  Images, videos, press releases and PR contacts should be easy to both find and read on each device. Multimedia, a huge component of driving action on mobile and desktops alike, should render quickly on mobile phones, and any delays in rendering the image should be fixed quickly. Lastly, make sure your newswire vendor distributes your news in both standard and mobile-ready formats.

With many companies investing in user-friendly mobile layouts, and consumers’ mobile devices replacing desktops, the organizations that don’t make mobile websites and content priority will start to fall behind the pack.  Mobile is the present and the future and businesses will need to acknowledge and adapt to this reality going forward.


New Social Tool Alert: Pinterest Launches Article Pins for Publishers

October 2, 2013

Ask any travel fan, bride-to-be, home cook or mom what social network they spend the most time on and you might be surprised to find it is not Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, but rather the image-based discovery site, Pinterest.

What is Pinterest?  Considered an aspirational social network, Pinterest is a website that allows users to upload and share a wide range of web-hosted images, sorted by categories or boards.  Users “pin” images they find on the web to “boards,” which the user has organized by theme.  For users and publishers alike, this is a highly utilized social network, with a heavy emphasis on content discovery and sharing.  What makes Pinterest so successful is that the pinned images include links back to hosting websites, allowing interested parties to click through to the original website for additional action.

This week, Pinterest revamped how they present pinned articles.  Previously, one could pin an article, and the image would appear but the pin would be missing necessary information to make the pin relevant and compelling for search and discovery.  But no longer!  This week, Pinterest released its new article pinning service.  Now, when a user pins an article, additional information such as the headline, author, story description and article link appears. This is highly beneficial for both the pinner and the reader.  For the reader, this provides clearer context of the pin, and for the pinner, it is a perfect way to bookmark a great read.

ImageImage courtesy of Pinterest

Pinning articles was a natural next step for Pinterest.  With more than 5M articles pinned every day, this new feature provides a better experience for those interested in pinning news as well as those discovering them.  And it is a boon for publishers as well. As YieldBot notes from its recent publisher referral traffic survey, Pinterest (85%) dramatically outweighs Facebook (8.3%), Twitter (0.5%), Tumblr (0.1%) and more for desktop inbound referral traffic.  Imagine if you could increase the inbound traffic from your social shares by 80% simply by using a new platform!

So how should public relations professionals implement Pinterest’s latest tool?  First, download the new pin tool and add it to your company website’s existing social sharing buttons. This will allow site visitors to pin your news releases, images, articles and content to their own boards, kicking off viral sharing.

Next?  Make sure your website images are tagged properly to help you be found within Pinterest’s own search engine.  This, too, is easy, it just requires a slight adjustment to your image tags.

From here, the rest is about context.  Pinterest is an image-based social network so of course, you must have image-based content.  Then ask yourself, who is this image relevant to?  Technologists?  Scientists?  Brides?  Cowboys? Search Pinterest and determine the level of interest by its members for your type of news or product and pay attention to the terms being used by your audience.  Every brand has brand fans, and every brand has a fan on Pinterest.  The trick for reaching and being found by these fans is in images you share, the name of your boards and the caption you create.  Consider creating highly niche boards to reach highly specific audiences, and more general boards when featuring industry specific industries.  Looking for other ideas on how to maximize your Pinterest presence?  We love this piece by Gini Dietrich, “16 ways to use Pinterest for PR.”

So where is Pinterest going next?  While it is still too soon to know, this new service will allow Pinterest to track article uploads and reads to build out its own internal user “interest graph” data set providing additional customization and monetization options down the road.

What do you think about this new Pinterest feature? Do you plan on implementing it on your sites? If you are using it now, what do you think? We would love to hear how you are using this tool to increase the overall awareness of, and click through traffic to, your company, products or news.


NextWorks CEO Tim Bahr on Content Capsules and the Growth of Content Marketing

September 10, 2013

Tim Bahr is CEO of NextWorks, which recently launched the Content Capsule interactive content marketing platform. Business Wire and NextWorks have partnered to create the Business Wire News Capsule and Picture Capsule, two new products that will turn press releases into self-contained, integrated content marketing tools. Business Wire and NextWorks are demonstrating the Content Capsule platform at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, September 10 through 12.

Tim Bahr

Tim Bahr, CEO, NextWorks

Tim answered some questions for us about the growth of content marketing and how these new products help marketers achieve their goals.

Why do you think marketers are showing such strong interest in content marketing?

Smart marketers realize that consumers are not interested in ads and promotional material; especially when they are online or on mobile devices.  A .01% click-through rate on display ads pretty much tells that story. Online and mobile consumers, who are in a buying mode, are most often seeking information to help them make a buying decision.  Marketers now recognize this as a huge opportunity to provide valuable and relevant information on their products and services that can help people buy their products.  That’s exactly why content marketing is the top priority for most marketers today, and why many believe it will be the most important area of marketing in the future.

What do you think of the trend toward content marketing?

I think the move toward content marketing is a very significant advance in marketing and the entire business/customer relationship.   We are finally starting to recognize the intelligence of our audiences.  We can’t just talk at them anymore with promotional messages that they have not requested and have no interest in.  They can just simply turn those messages off.

To successfully deliver a message to an audience in the digital world, where the user controls the receipt of messages, the message must be informative, relevant and provide value.  That outcome of this new means of communicating will be greater engagement and stronger customer relationships.

What do you think is key to successfully delivering content to an audience?

First, you should know what the audience wants.  Today’s social media analytics can give you those insights.  Then you need a distribution platform that can deliver content to the audience wherever and whenever that want to receive it in an engaging and interactive manner.  Finally, you must be able to monitor all interactions with the content so you have metrics that can help you continually update and alter content to meet the specific needs of your audience and ensure you remain timely and relevant.

How does the Content Capsule platform deliver this type of audience engagement and measurement?

The capsule platform is an interactive canvas that allows marketers to tell complete stories with videos, images, presentations, links and transactions in one self-contained, branded and highly sharable unit.  An audience can be taken on a journey from assessment through engagement to conversion without ever leaving a company’s content.  Capsules allow marketers to easily launch content campaigns across owned, earned, shared and paid media on all devices.  And, because every piece of content within a capsule is monitored and measured, a marketer can respond in real time to audience interactions and update content while a capsule is in distribution.  When content is updated, capsules embedded and shared across the digital ecosystem all update.  This creates an opportunity for ongoing programming of relevant content to multiple audiences across all platforms.

If you’re at Content Marketing World, stop by booth #4 in the exhibit hall to meet Tim and learn more about Content Capsules.


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