Product publicity—on the Web and in print publications—is by far the most efficient way to generate leads and traffic for your site. Nearly everyone enjoys reading about what is new, and publications respond by publishing tens of thousands of such announcements every day at zero cost to the marketers involved.
But despite the large number of announcements published, many times that number are rejected for a wide range of reasons. This article will provide information that will help you get your announcements into the broadest range of publications that reach your target audience.
1. Collect and Organize the Facts Before You Start
The press is going to decide how much attention to pay to your announcement based on the amount of news value that it sees in your new product. That's why it is so important to work closely with the development team to dig out the type of facts that will attract the interest of editors as well as readers.
News value usually boils down to being the first to provide some useful capability or combination of capabilities. Product development types are often a bit coy about tooting their own horns, so it may take extensive questioning to reveal unique advantages.
It may also be necessary to research competitive offerings to accurately define your “first.” It's usually possible to come up with a “first” even if the product provides just an incremental improvement.
For example, your product may not be the first to offer feature A, B, or C, but it may be the first to offer A, B and C combined, or the first to offer A, B and C on the XYZ platform.
2. Write the Release So It's Ready to Publish With Little or No Editing
It's no secret that most print and online publications are short-staffed. Priority is usually given to feature articles, so there's very little time left for product announcements.
That's why your announcement has a much better chance of being published if it is provided to the editor in such a way that it can fit right into the publication with little or no editing. Avoid superlatives that will never make it into print (such as “the most advanced widget ever!”). Instead, use factual statements, such as “the first widget ever to offer features A, B and C together.”
Back up any statement that might be viewed as controversial with evidence, such as design details or quotes from company executives. Most editors prefer a journalistic format—i.e., the first paragraph provides a summary of what makes the product newsworthy and summarizes the other features, and the rest of the release provides backup and detail.
3. Develop a Comprehensive List of Print and Online Publications
Probably the easiest thing that you can do to increase the number of times that your product announcement is published is to distribute it to all relevant publications. It's possible to find hundreds of print and online publications whose readers would be interested in the typical B2B product announcement.
As an example, let's take the case of a software package designed to make manufacturing equipment interoperate. Your first step would be to select the 5-10 manufacturing publications that cover information technology issues, such as MSI. But don't stop there. Select manufacturing publications dedicated to vertical industries that might use the device, such as Medical Products Manufacturing News.
Select magazines targeting the equipment that might be connected to the device, such as Welding Fabrication & Design. Select publications targeting information technology types that might be interested in manufacturing, such as Information Week. Obviously, it's critical to have access to a comprehensive directory of publications such as those provided by Bacons and MediaMap.
4. Respond Promptly and Completely to Editor Inquiries
The best way to get into the good graces of editors is to make a practice of responding promptly and thoroughly to their requests.
When you send out a new product announcement to hundreds of editors, chances are the requests will come fast and furious. To avoid delays, anticipate the most common requests and have your response ready.
Pictures are the most common request, so have several different types ready, especially if you didn't send one with the original announcement. Some publications ask to speak to a user of the product, so if possible prepare in advance to have one available. Another common request is pricing information.
5. Create an Unobtrusive Follow-Up Program
Most editors will tell you that they don't like to get calls checking on the status of news releases because they get so many. On the other hand, we have found that the number of placements rises drastically—often by a factor of five, especially in top-level publications—when such calls are made.
We recommend not following up on every single announcement, just on those are the most important; once per quarter is a good rule of thumb. We also recommend following up with only a limited number of publications—those that you consider most appropriate for the announcement.
It's also important to keep in mind that it usually takes a long series of contacts (stretching over months) to attract editors' attention, answer their requests, get the publication date and finally get copies of the publication.
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