Let’s talk about the average press release. The average press release is a giant wall of text, with self-congratulatory quotes about being market-leading, innovative, and strategic, offering up very little of actual value. Would you agree that no one particularly cares that your flexible, scalable, industry-leading, turnkey, innovative product is now being offered by a growing, well-positioned, global thought leader? Is it any wonder that companies are rightfully questioning the value of public relations when the press release probably puts employees (who should in theory care the most about the company’s news) to sleep?
Now let’s talk about what marketers have focused on for a decade: the landing page. This is the fine art of making a web page so compelling that when someone lands on it (via promotion or search), they take the desired action that has a bottom line result. Landing pages are used to build email lists, sell products, schedule demos, etc.
Marketers make landing pages with a variety of different techniques, but all of them share common traits:
- Landing pages must be immediately attention getting. If you’re spending $40 per click on Google ads, you’ve got to convert, and in order to convert, subtlety goes out the window. You need to grab attention as fast as possible.
- Landing pages must highlight value immediately. You’ve got attention, which is ethereal. You get to keep that attention for about 3 seconds or less. Thus, the value proposition has to be up front and blatantly obvious. Maybe there’s a YouTube video highlighting the benefits or compelling copy or testimonial that shows “Someone else’s life or business was changed by this product”.
- Landing pages must provide a brutally strong call to action. If they don’t click, you don’t earn. Thus, the call to action cannot be subtle. It cannot be tasteful. It cannot even just be obvious. If you’re paying out the nose for promotion of your page, you need to capture every possible click.
- Landing pages and their promotions must be shareable. If you want to squeeze every drop of value out of landing pages, you need to get as much free promotion as possible. If you can get someone to convert, you can get them to convert again after the first conversion by sharing the page. Think about it: if a customer converts at $40 per click and shares it with 1 person who also converts, you’ve just cut your conversion cost in half.
So why is it that press releases, which are often costly and labor intensive, deliberately ignore all of the principles that have made marketing landing pages successful business engines? What if you applied best marketing practices to the wall of text that is the average press release?
Write your press releases with the same principles and concepts that you write your marketing landing pages. Don’t bury the headline or the value in corporate boilerplate. Eliminate as much jargon and inside baseball as possible. Put attention in the headline and value right off the bat, with frequent calls to action and requests to share liberally sprinkled through it. Ask bluntly for the next valuable action
Try changing your thinking about press releases. We know what principles make a successful landing page. Why wouldn’t you want a press release to be a landing page designed to drive business?
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology