You’ve probably caught on by now but just to make sure we’re all on the same page, this is the second article of three about press releases and why you, as an MSP need them. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the use of press releases in your overall marketing strategy for selling managed services and started at the very beginning to better understand what a press release actually is.
This article will go step-by-step through creating a press release and all of the pre-gaming necessary before ever sending one out to publish with the media. Finally and to bring it all together, there will be one more article to outline HOW to submit a press release and best practices for the results of publishing your release.
Creating Effective Press Releases
At CharTec, my marketing department writes press releases all the time for our members but for those of you taking it on yourself, follow my tips to crafting an influential and educational message:
- DEFINE YOUR GOALS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE. It’s VITAL you write them out and keep them visible while you write your first draft so that you stay on track.
- MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE AWARE OF YOUR AUDIENCE. Although you may intend to attract your specific buyer personas and target markets or verticals, a very broad audience will likely read it. …all of these identifiers are likely in touch with your information: music genres, political affiliation, educational background, career path, race and ages, personal bias and false consensus…
This is a GOOD THING.
This is the type of content that supports the top of your sales funnel. The more people that are exposed to it, the more people they will likely tell and that begins the filtering and progression of your entire prospecting process.
3. KEEP IT AS SHORT AND SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE. This is not the place to put a ton of background information or technical descriptions. Avoid geek talk at all costs so that anyone reading it will generally understand.
4. SMILE WHILE YOU WRITE YOUR PRESS RELEASE. This bad boy needs to ooze enthusiasm so that people will be excited to learn more. As important as your attitude and body language is when meeting someone in person, it is just as important to articulate the same engaged excitement through your words.
5. IDENTIFY A POINT-OF-CONTACT WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION. This person will be responsible for fielding all calls, emails, office visits, and any other effort someone makes to follow up. Make sure this person’s name and ALL relevant contact information is clearly documented at the very bottom of your release. Also, refer to them in the message as well.
3 EXAMPLES OF PRESS RELEASES
If you’re stuck with a bit of writer’s block here are five press release examples to help inspire you.
WHY THIS WORKS:
- They’ve thoroughly explained what we could expect from their new model of the iMac
- The improvements they’ve made and difference in the products is clearly defined
- With images, the readers get a concise understanding of the product they are pitching
WHY THIS WORKS
- The press release kicks off with the event details
- The event is given credibility with the quote from the owner which aligns with the messaging of the overall press release
WHY THIS WORKS
- There is no mistaking the issue from the title
- The night is outlined and there is no mistaking the purpose or expectations
- It’s KISS’d – Keep It Simple Stupid!
FORMATTING THE PRESS RELEASE
Do not over complicate creating your press release. We can so easily get caught up in formatting or stuck on a word but this can actually be very simple if you allow it to be. Take a look at the inverted pyramid below for a basic understanding of how to format your press release:
BUILDING YOUR MEDIA CONTACT LIST
Now, building a targeted media list that is relevant to managed services and the topics you specifically specialize in is challenging – no doubt. BUT, let me tell you…so worth it.
So, so worth it.
With a deliberate effort to keep this as simple as possible, I will do my best to detail the basic efforts I think you should invest in building your go-to list.
THE LOCAL MEDIA vs. THE NATIONAL MEDIA
First, as you begin to think about distributing your press release and what that process will look like, understand that you will not always get the coverage you expect or want. Newsrooms receive 100’s of press releases each week so there’s always the risk they don’t have the time or room that news day. It’s also highly likely the person receiving your release has hesitation in publishing it because it’s too technical. Remember, more often than not, technology is very challenging for people to understand. Between generational issues to how complex the subject matter is, you will lose people’s interest faster than you can blink.
Although network security, the internet of things and cloud computing bring immense value, people don’t get it. The level of expertise and experience necessary to adequately breakdown these topics and make them relatable is very challenging but it’s your challenge to be overcome. Your release must be explained to plainly that the person on the other end doesn’t set it down simply because they don’t understand it.
Trust me. I get it… this is a major roadblock to experts like you trying to shed light on these very issues and help people protect themselves. Even worse, the guy that is able to explain it, regardless his credentials or capacity to provide services will have the upper hand.
NO SPEAKING GEEK and understand, your responsibility in your community is to educate… slowly. In doing this, you will begin to uncover your true value and build loyalty.
On a more national level, journalists generally have so much information on said topics and industry experts or public personalities in their ear that it’s challenging for you to stand out and present something that really rises above.
Not to mention, HELLO!! It’s hella competitive and entirely different than the local approach.
And… I don’t know if you’ve ever priced it yourself but let me tell you… it’s extremely expensive to get something published nationally. In my experience, landing a press release costs a minimum of $400 with a 400 word max depending on the topic. And it’s even more challenging than it is expensive because it’s necessary to work through a media broker like Berkshire Hathaway’s Business Wire. If you don’t already have a relationship with the broker and you’re submitting something that is time sensitive, you don’t have a chance.
Luckily, with your MSP most likely serving a fairly local market, you will not have to use national outlets often, if at all. Stick to local whenever and however you can.
Regardless the route you need to take for your releases, It’s important we set realistic expectations here in the very beginning.
From my perspective, the more you can step out in your local community and demonstrate your industry knowledge in a resourceful way, the better you establish the foundation of a strong word-of-mouth campaign while becoming an industry leader.
As I’ve already said before in the sessions I teach at CharTec ACADEMY and during my marketing calls with members, our economy and current culture is desperate for the knowledge you have from the perspective of security and insight of what’s to come. For example, how do we protect ourselves and how should we respond to cyber disasters.
Your purpose within your community is not to “just” make money by providing your permissions-to-play but to go above and beyond, standing out as a partner and leader to your community, keeping them educated and protected.
So let’s talk about goals. What is the point? What are our expectations once we put our information out to the world? This will obviously differ in response based on the type of information you are releasing. For example, one goal of an event is obviously attendance. Do your best to think about both short-term and long-term goals and be specific, quantifying wherever possible.
Examples based on the four types of press releases we outlined above:
- SHARING COMPANY NEWS
- Short-term goal: brand awareness
- Long-term goal: grow network of influencers and buyers by 5%
- ADDRESSING AN ISSUE:
- Short-term goal: correct miscommunicated information put out by the media
- Long-term goal: demonstrate after a few of these experiences your industry knowledge and authority (credibility)
- RESPONDING TO A CRISIS:
- Short-term goal: assist with clearing the wreckage at hand or participate in the efforts of getting in front of and controlling the issue
- Long-term goal: generate 3 more clients by showing your immense ability to resolve issues similar to their industry or operation and lay out preventive roadmaps to control and avoid future events
- PROMOTING AN EVENT:
- Short-term goal: increase attendance and overall awareness of your event throughout your community or digital audience
- Long-term goal: attract a larger audience and convert prospects in the consideration phase to buy from you after experiencing the delivery of your unique expertise. Build trust.
Notice none of the above examples mentioned profit growth. This means nothing at the daily task level we are focused on with press releases. With the realistic understanding that your buyers take incremental steps to purchasing from you, it must be clear as day in your head that pushing out a release WILL NOT by itself generate a new 36-month service contract. Therefore, this effort alone will not drive exponential profit.
FINDING THE RIGHT MEDIA OUTLETS
Finding the right media peeps is the hardest part about securing your prepared press list. Don’t stop with what’s familiar. You’ve got to dig deeper and get creative. Who has an engaged audience?? Take the time to research all of your community’s potential. Here’s some obvious outlets to consider:
- News Channels
- Radio Networks
- Networking Leaders
- Public Community Leaders
- Larger Organizations with Internal Media
Now, think beyond face-to-face and remember to take inventory of digital media as well. Even though it’s common to primarily focus on familiar publications like your newspaper or your favorite nightly news channel, bloggers and online influencers actually have a far more loyal user-base than any other source. More often than not, bloggers have a perspective that they filter all of their content through and their audience relates. Find one that’s relevant and you’ll quickly increase your reach.
FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Once you have a list of sources to work with, it’s time to figure out who’s who. Even though an organization may have a set mission statement and set of values, each journalist, radio disc jockey and news anchor attract a different audience based on who they are as individuals. Whenever possible, be selective on who receives and delivers your press release. If it is going to be shared on air, the personality sharing it will make a difference on the people that hear it.
Here is a quick list of the most valuable job titles you’ll ultimately want to get in touch with depending on the circumstances of the engagement:
Adding To The Conversation:
- Original Author
- Editor’s Assistant
- Production Manager
Starting The Conversation:
- Associate Editor
- Associate Producer
- Board Member
- Community Liaison
- Communication Specialist
- Communication Manager
- Managing Editor
- Media Specialist
- Section Editor
Marketing an event through the media is handled a little bit differently and depending on the outlet, they generally want you to start with the following:
- Check out the outlet’s public event pages online and figure out if there is a digital submission process to getting your event on their community calendar
- Find the general contact fax line on their website to fax press releases
With that being said however, don’t ignore the gate keepers. Just like in prospecting, the gate keepers are who feed you the juicy intel and prepare you to meet with the decision makers. They are your best friend. Treat them like it and they will tell you anything you want to know!
Here’s a couple of ideas to help you get started:
- Figure out who has already been involved with the tech industry. Anyone with a foundation of knowledge will be a great catalyst to getting your message out.
- Check them out on LinkedIn and Facebook to determine more about their background. Lately, I’ve been noticing very young, newly graduated college students on my nightly news… no offense but I wouldn’t trust them with a story if my career depended on it. They’re too green and they aren’t taken seriously yet.
- Ask for recommendations from your network. Share your goals with trusted friends and professional neighbors. You often have no idea who you know through mutual connections. Do this on LinkedIn as well.
Also, don’t forget about face-to-face networking groups. The Chamber of Commerce often has a “members-only” print or digital publication that goes out often. As long as you present yourself as a resource and not as a sales pitch, you can gain a lot of momentum. After all, they target the exact same type of businesses you do. Their member base is full of prospects and you would only gain from becoming a preferred contact for them.
BUILDING AND NOT BUYING IS THE MOTTO
This is a time consuming process centered on BUILDING relationships (not buying them). Very similar to sales, and like I’ve already mentioned, people work with the people they like. That takes a bit of finesse’ and patience.
If you go online, you can find a bunch of PR distribution firms prepared to take your money, you don’t need them. They promise grandiose services that simply have zero ROI or what they end up selling you has zero relevance to your needs.
Don’t take shortcuts and don’t allow yourself to get distracted. You need to have full attention committed to building your media contact list and staying ahead of the game when it comes to educating your community. It is your goal to stay two steps ahead of their average technical competency – no more and no less. Being the first to introduce information draws a lot of attention to you, but if that information is too technical for your audience to comprehend, they will recognize the next guy behind you as the expert simply because they understood him.
Keep it simple and leave the geek speak at home.
Ready to read on and discover the best practices to submitting and publishing your press release? Check out this article and be sure to download the Press Release All-In-One Kit for easy access to our instructional eBook, multiple press release templates, a media list spreadsheet with guided instructions and much more!!
Also, stay tuned for more articles where I’ll discuss other methods of working with the media for free to market your MSP. Topics to come will include:
- How To Become A Guest Publisher & Grow Your Sales Funnel
- The Value In Becoming A Trusted Expert & Source To The Media