On the importance of the lowly press release

It’s easy to dismiss a press release as “just” a press release – until you need one. That’s when it dawns on you that just about every piece of marketing material – ad copy, product briefs, brochures and even job stories – will repeat a great deal of your press release’s content and exact phrasings. In effect, you’re not just making a press release; you’re creating the foundation of all things to come.

The piece itself will appear in numerous publications and prominently appear in online searches each time someone looks for information on that product. Of course, we can’t control what a publication’s editor might do with the piece’s title, length or formatting, but most editors are reluctant to change the precisely worded expressions of a product press release. In our experience, most editors will print what was written in the release. That’s why it’s so important to get it right.

The impact of a single press release widens exponentially online, as excerpts from its text are copy-pasted, word-for-word, into subsequent discussions and in comparisons of your product to other market offerings.

Press releases can be much more than just announcements introducing technological innovations and newer, better capabilities. They present valuable opportunities to influence market perception, or head-off unintended misperceptions. Novice writers often either overlook this opportunity or jump on it heavy-handedly, bungling it. An experienced writer, on the other hand, considers the reader’s frame of mind and then deftly handles subtexts in the piece.

Another error is to say too much. A press release should only plant the seed, giving the reader just enough detail to back up abstract claims like, “More powerful! More fuel efficient! Increased productivity!” Is it more powerful? Give its rated torque or horsepower. Then stop. If it’s more fuel efficient, ball-park a figure you can stand by. Then stop. The release should not give a potential customer so much information they feel confident making purchase decisions based on it alone. And a publication wants to keep their product news short and sweet. They don’t want to publish a book about every new product on the market.

For potential customers who might not be in the market now, the release has their attention. They’ve noted the model and the manufacturer. That’s its job, to prompt further investigation. It also serves as another level of branding awareness and to show your client is always developing products, whether someone is in the market to buy it or not.

Informative yet tactful, nuanced and tight –never underestimate the power of a good press release, and never trust just anyone to create it for you.

Joe Bradfield is senior writer for Ellenbecker Communications

Are improved equipment sales adding resources to marketing departments in 2015?

I was encouraged early on in 2014 by articles in the trade press forecasting slight improvements to the construction sector. But it really wasn’t until CONEXPO in March that I started hearing stories that made me believe we might be at a turning point.

One manufacturer told me that they had done more business on the first day of the show than they’d done in all five days of the last show, back in 2011. It’s not a surprise that business would be better in 2014, but it was the degree of difference that was surprising. And this wasn’t the only time I heard that kind of story.

A big part of my job entails talking to non-clients (or, as I prefer to say, “potential clients”) and recently a new narrative began to emerge. I started hearing very similar comments from a number of marketing managers of companies catering to the construction industry. They could be summed up as, “If sales can maintain the current pace, we’re going to be able to do more in 2015.” Depending on the company, that may mean more advertising dollars, or maybe a greater focus on content creation, perhaps more investment in social media or just catching up on all those brochures that need to be updated. Some companies without agencies now may consider signing an agency in 2015, some will add staff in-house, and some will turn to freelancers to help them keep up with the demand for more quality content.

For construction equipment manufacturers, there is certainly more reason for optimism than simple anecdotal evidence, though. Construction Equipment reported in its June issue on the results of their reader survey that indicated that almost two-thirds of respondents expected to replace some portion of their equipment fleet this year. In August Equipment Today reported on a study by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers that found “40 to 43 percent of companies with fewer than 1,000 employees indicate that they will increase fleet size over the next 12 months… and about 25 percent of companies with 1,000 or more employees are planning to expand their fleets.”

What about your department? Are you thinking about doing more next year? Have you been given more resources to support your 2015 action plan? And for those of you in other industries, how does your outlook for 2015 differ? Feel free to give me a call if you’d like to bounce some ideas off someone—no commitment necessary. There are incremental steps you can take to improve your content creation, for example, that are scalable and affordable.

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Fueston is an Account Manager for Ellenbecker Communications, is responsible for new business development, and contributes as a staff writer. He believes in the intersection between Sales and Marketing.