by Trevor Jones, VP of Business Development at GWI
In small companies, we often have to get our message out with relatively small marketing budgets. The good news is that the age of content marketing has given us more tools than ever to accomplish our goals without breaking the bank. By effectively combining your blog and social channels with some well thought our public relations efforts, you can effectively get your message out and raise your brand awareness without spending lots of money on media.
Sounds good, right? There are a few things you need before you get started. The first is something to announce that your audience will care about enough to read and share, an important element of what HubSpot calls remarkable content. This could be a new product or service that will help people in their business or daily life, or it could be something that you provide for free, like a white paper, report, or E-Book. If it’s not remarkable, don’t waste your time announcing it.
In addition to something remarkable, you’ll need the basic tools of PR, a media contact list, a well-written press release, and talking points if you’re lucky enough to get a call for an interview about your story.
Once you have these elements ready to go, the next step is to create a campaign in which your PR and content marketing work together and complement each other to enhance your message. Use these tips to help you do that.
- Take your news story direct with your blog: One of the most beautiful aspects of content marketing is the opportunity it gives you to tell the story your way. Also, your blog probably has many followers that don’t read your press releases or the newspapers that may or may not write a story. Take a few minutes to re-write a post in your voice that shares the news story directly with your audience. Make sure you dispense with all of the arcane formatting, language and “about sections” that are typical of press releases.
- Go deep on your news story in the blog. Your blog is your opportunity to give your story depth, whereas the press release is an executive summary. I usually spread this effort over multiple posts, adding more color with each post. When we announce a new network, we’ll generally issue a press release and 4 or more blog posts about it: one post might provide historical context, one a behind-the-scenes look, one a customer’s personal story, and so on. Then, we spread these stories out over weeks or a couple of months. This builds frequency, gives your story dimension, and gives you more content for your marketing.
- Occasionally your blog, not a press release, is the best vehicle for your story. Sometimes I read a release from our PR consultant and it’s obvious to me that I’m going to modify it and take it directly to the blog, without posting in on the press releases section of our website at all. This happens a lot with follow-up press releases that are really designed to get a second bump in press coverage from one of our bigger stories, like this post. Sometimes the blog is just a better place for direct consumption of content by the public, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t release it directly to the media.
- Don’t forget to use press releases to promote “big rock” content. You’ve worked hard to create the e-books, white papers, and other long-form content you use to drive conversions. No doubt you do a lot to promote them on your blog and in your social networks, but they’re worth more than that! The effort you put into creating that remarkable content is newsworthy and should be promoted with a press release. With a little luck and some relationship building, you could find that your anchor content has a much bigger audience. The best example of this that I’ve been involved in at GWI is the paper our CEO wrote providing 10 recommendations for improving broadband in Maine. The release of that paper was covered in both news stories and a favorable editorial in major Maine newspapers and business publications.
- Make sure to cross-link relevant blog posts from your press releases. Link building may be dead, but there is still an opportunity to breathe new life into blog posts that are relevant to a news story by linking them from your press release, even if the only place those links appear online is the news releases section of your site. This provides news reporters covering your story additional background, gives visitors to your web site another way to discover important content, and lets search engines know that you feel the linked posts are important. Definitely do this if your posts contain original research or hard data that supports your news story.
So there you have it. Give a few of these strategies a try next time you have a product or content to launch. I think you’ll find that your launches are more successful and satisfying and leads and sales start to climb. The final step, by the way, is the most important one: go back and do it over and over again.
Trevor Jones is Vice President of Business Development at GWI and has been a major author and editor of the GWI Blog, with over 200 posts on technology issues in four years. He also writes personal blogs on marketing and outdoor activities.