As with any form of search marketing, setting performance goals and objectives can help to propel an online PR strategy from directionless and vague to a powerful tool capable of increasing traffic, sales, web mentions, links… in fact anything that is desirable for your search engine marketing campaign.
Only by setting goals for each PR can you be sure that the time and money you’re investing in writing press releases and sending them out into the wider web is paying off. It’s not enough to simply run a quick Google search every now and then and see where the PR has been published or to upload it to a few social media sites and sit back satisfied that you’ve done all you can.
A press release is designed to be noticed and should only be issued when you have something worth shouting about. To that end, it makes sense that you define what you want to achieve with the release before you write the text and choose when, where and how it should be distributed. Taking a few extra minutes to clarify what the purpose of the piece is can be a massive help to the copywriter as it helps to set the tone of the release and dictate what information is included, as well as being a big help to those tasked with measuring return on investment from online activity.
Directing resources and budget at online PR just because other competitors do the same is not enough of a justification to continue spending what could be limited funds on an ongoing campaign. It may be that your campaign has veered off track and you’re churning out lots of material but have lost impact. Setting goals for your PR can help to clear these muddied waters and get your results back on track. But what are realistic goals for an online PR and what should you be hoping to achieve?
1. Attracting media attention
The most obvious reason for crafting and issuing a press release is to attract media attention. Keeping relevant publications abreast of new product launches or company milestones can be a very profitable endeavor, helping to secure non paid for editorial coverage and acting as a portal to a wider, more relevant audience.
Attracting media attention is almost always pursued as a route to more sales so this would make a realistic goal for a release with a strong news angle. Topics such as the development of new products or services lend themselves well to this goal, as do good news stories such as the creation of local jobs or a companywide commitment to voluntary projects or community donations.
Depending on the nature of the media you wish to attract (for example local, network or specialist) it may not be enough to simply put out a press release. A new product launch or store opening could be accompanied with a footnote on the release inviting working media to attend a press launch or tour, making it more likely that the release will reach its goals and have the desired effect of press coverage.
2. Attracting web traffic
A press release sent out with the hope of attracting web traffic will be approached in a very different way to one targeted at generating media attention. Web traffic usually means appealing directly to the consumer and as such, this will influence both the topic and the tone of the PR.
If you plan to use a PR to attract traffic, the very first thing to check is that you have the wherewithal to follow this up, either via an Analytics package or through the use of a dedicated landing page on the PR excusive to that release. This allows you to track the traffic back to its source, showing whether it’s been a success or not.
When sending out a PR to attract more web traffic, you’ll need to recognize the extra work required in distribution tactics. You may not need to spend any time sending this release to your media contacts but instead, will have to extend your online distribution strategy by using more free press release channels, finding appropriate newswires, updating social media profiles or by deciding to invest in premium distribution service such as those offered by PR Web.
3. Appealing to bloggers
Bloggers are now very much powerful journalists in their own right and a PR to appeal directly to them can be a very savvy marketing move. Celebrity blogger such as Perez Hilton are media celebrities in their own right and hold a lot of sway with their readership.
Work on a press release that appeals to bloggers starts much earlier than the minute fingers meet keyboard to draft out the content of the piece. You’ll first need to spent time researching the most prominent bloggers in your industry and allocate a good few hours to studying their posts. Simply sending a generic release to a blogger can do more harm than good as they’ll want to know that you have taken the time to get to know their work and appreciate their needs.
Only after studying posts and comments, noting themes and preferences and tailoring a release accordingly should you issue a PR to bloggers.