Last week I posted a quick link to a press release issued by Billtrust that discussed our 2009 performance (Press Release Here ). I received a few questions from people about why we issued this kind of press release and what were we hoping to achieve. Here's our thinking on press releases.
Press releases are often issued in the hopes that someone from the press will write an article on the news. This rarely happens, sometimes the press will reprint the exact release, but most often they are just ignored. However, the press release section of a company web site is visited frequently, and you can often tell a lot about a company based on their press releases. Your competition also frequently visits your press section so they can be an effective tool for dealing with them.
There are three ways that companies handle press releases on their web site:
- There is no press release section. Indicates to me that the company has nothing to say and is very small.
- There is a press release section, but it hasn't been updated in a while. These companies thought it was a good idea to have a press strategy but weren't able to follow through or didn't have anything worthy to mention. Indicates to me that the company can't follow through on things.
- There is a robust press release section with updates at least every couple of months. A good start, but now you have to dig into the types of releases they do.
There are a number of different types of press releases, some better than others, with different purposes. You can tell a lot about a company based on the types of press releases they issue. If the only press releases they do are Version 188.8.131.52 of their Social Network Software Generator now available in Green, that's quite a stretch for a press release.
These are they types of press releases that we see, from strongest to weakest. I'm sure I'm missing a few.
- The Competitive Takeaway - A press release announcing the signing of a new customer. This makes employees feel good, is something you can talk about with prospects in the new customer's industry, but also is a blow to your competition. These are great press releases.
- The Metrics Release - These typically occur once per year and are designed to show how healthy the company is, the strong growth, and to demonstrate to prospects this is a company you'd like to work with. These are mandatory once a year press releases.
- The Awards Release - We just received this nifty new award and want our customers, prospects, and competition to know about it.
- The Case Study Press Release - A customer agreed to participate in a case study and here are the findings. Most companies don't like to share the names of specific customers because they are afraid that their competition will try and take them away. If you see a specific company name, then this company is likely doing something good because they're not afraid of the competition.
- The New Hire Release - We just hired a new industry veteran in this really important role and we thought we'd mention it. Not bad, but not great. All companies hire and fire so unless this person is a superstar, will often be ignored.
- The Analyst Press Release - The XYZ Analyst group finds that 50% of doctors are in the bottom half of their graduation class. Press releases with quotes from analysts can be powerful, but some analysts will do anything for a buck so sometimes these press releases simply say this company is willing to spend money on analyst research.
- New Product Release - When companies build new products, this is their way of announcing them to the world. These are good occasionally, but if done too frequently, shows a company is building a lot of products, but not selling them!
- New Product Version Release - Boring. Often just used to show consistency in press releases.
I'm no marketing genius, and I'm sure there are other ways of looking at press releases, but this strategy has served us well.