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Press Release Pitfalls to Avoid

Having said all of that about using news releases to boost your marketing, please don't get the impression that you should rest on your promotional laurels once you get a mention in the press. I'll use a case study to illustrate the problems you will face if you do:

You may recall a couple months back I sent out a special edition of The Edge when the American Horse Council issued the results of a long-awaited study on the economic impact of the horse industry. A news release was issued by the Horse Council on June 28, 2005, with the release also posted on the Horse Council's website. The impact of horses on the U.S. economy is profound, and the news spread like wildfire through equine publications and the popular press. One benchmark, the Google News service, had indexed hundreds of mentions of the news within days of the release as publications around the world reported the study.

Folks within the industry were anxious to get a look at the report, appetites whetted by the enticing tidbits in the release. Yet the Horse Council's website said only "Keep checking this site for ways to purchase the new study!" The publications order page had a gap for the study, with "coming soon"--no pricing information, no option to pre- order, no indication of when "soon" would be.

Days, then weeks, now more than a month, passed. Still no change to the Horse Council's website. All but the most interested people stopped checking. Life goes on, interest wanes.

Then, finally, on August 22, seven weeks and six days after the study was "released," SHAZAM! News hit the wire that the study was available for purchase! The media mentions even include the pricing.

Yet, a visit to the Horse Council's website on August 23 still reveals the same old, stale messages: "Keep checking this site for ways to purchase the new study!" and "coming soon." Despite the fact that the Horse Council obviously issued a news release to the media, not even the website's list of press releases has been updated to include that one! Two days later, the Google News service has referenced exactly two mentions of the availability of the study for purchase. The fact that the Horse Council is ready to sell its product is not nearly as enticing to the media as the fact that the Horse Council created its product.

So what happened here?

Several things.

  1. The Horse Council had NEWS—real news, capital-letter news—and a related product to sell, and wisely issued press releases.
  2. International media coverage piqued interest and created huge demand for the product, as it should.
  3. The Horse Council was not prepared to fill the demand it had created.
  4. The Horse Council did not employ any stop-gap methods of meeting demand (such as pre-sales).
  5. The demand for the product smoldered, fading from an inferno to relative embers.
  6. Finally, the Horse Council had the product available for sale and, wisely, utilized the press once again by issuing a release.
  7. BUT, the Horse Council STILL has not coordinated it's channels for selling the product.

So what WILL happen here?

  1. The Horse Council will sell some copies of the study in its various configurations, eventually, once it gets its e-commerce system squared away.
  2. The sale of copies of the study will likely generate some revenue to be used in the worthwhile causes of the Horse Council. Since the study was sponsored by several industry participants, hopefully sales will generate actual profits for the Council instead of offsetting costs.

BUT, how much better could the results have been, if the study was available for purchase when people were ready to buy?

So what is the message?

  1. Use news releases and use them wisely. Report real news, quickly, while it is still "new."
  2. If the release is only intended to generate publicity, be ready to respond to inquiries for more information.
  3. If the release can be used to motivate sales, be ready to sell!

Do you have a marketing trick or tip you would like to share with other readers? If so, send an email to Ingrid@equinnovation.com. Thanks for your input!

Copyright 2005. This article first appeared in The Equine Business Edge, Equinnovation's complimentary newsletter (click to subscribe).

Contents may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

For information on republishing this article, please email Ingrid@equinnovation.com or call Ingrid at 231-275-3355.