It's been my experience over the course of the last year, since the debut of the SHIFT social media press release (SMPR) template and the growing importance of SEO and search optimized press releases, that marketing professional "get it" more often than PR professionals. A lot of PR departments and their agencies simply refuse to acknowledge social media concepts and they continue to send out the same old press releases over the same old wire services. I believe part of this is because marketing people think in terms of leads and sales and dollars while PR still thinks in terms of media placements only. But I believe this is changing.
What I'm not sure will change and what is a bigger frustration for me is how marketing and PR (aka corporate communications) seem to operate in silos. This may have worked before the Internet but it causes problems now.
A recent John Sumser article titled What's Big? stated that catching the PR buzz is an important aspect of building an enduring enterprise, but being the talk of the town won't ever pay a single bill. The real work of running a business involves sales, collections and execution. We couldn't agree more with John. And this is why marketing needs to own PR - what we call Marketing PR.
Astute marketing departments understand that their primary responsibility is to generate qualified leads for the sales department. A key component if this is messaging or "positioning". What your brand stands for, how it benefits customers, it's uniqueness vis-à-vis the competition, etc. To drive "qualified" leads, you take this message to the marketplace using various "tactics" such as advertising, direct marketing, trade show exhibiting, webcasts, blogging, etc. One of the most important tactics is the press release. The Internet has transformed the press release from a document rarely seen by anyone but a few reporters and editors to a lead generation tactic. As Elrond Lawrence at HRmarketer wrote in an article published in B2B Marketing Trends, "Unlike traditional B2B media relations, Marketing press releases bypass traditional media outlets to accomplish goals such as search engine visibility, demand generation and brand support."
In order for a press release to be used effectively as a lead generation tactic, it needs to be at a minimum re-written for the buyer, search optimized and sent via a wire service that allows you to insert social media elements. And in our experience marketing should drive this process.
For example, imagine a company just spent a ton of money on SEO which included keyword research and the launching of a new web site. To leverage this work, the company should be incorporating these keywords as hyperlinks within their press releases - something that may seem minor but is actually a very effective tactic. The problem is that if you asked most PR departments what their company's or products keywords were, they likely would not know. And even if they did, most would not know the first thing about how to include them in the release let alone incorporating other social media elements. And keywords can change month-to-month based on a number of factors so ongoing communication between marketing and PR is critical.
But more often than not, the two departments don't work together.
So how can you tell which companies "get it"? If the company's press releases include nothing but text and are sent via a traditional wire service they're guilty. And I also would bet that the marketing and PR departments at these companies operate as silos.
Labels: marketing PR, search optimized press releases, seo, smpr, social media press release