From The Editor | September 22, 2020

What Press Releases Reveal About The State Of B2B Marketing

Abby Sorensen July 2017 Headshot

By Abby Sorensen, Editor

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“In the real world, no one is waiting to read what you’ve written.” Those are wise words from the author Steven Pressfield. It’s a sentiment B2B marketers should keep in mind when it comes to content marketing, and especially before hitting “send” on that next press release.

The throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks method doesn’t work anymore if you want to be a successful B2B marketer. Your content needs to be targeted, tailored, helpful, and focused on your customer rather than on your products and services. And yet that’s the exact opposite approach taken for most press releases.

Yes, marketers will always have new products and services, acquisitions, and updates to announce to the world. But for the love of all things good in B2B marketing, it’s time to unlearn the bad habits that press releases teach about content – namely, that it’s acceptable to write and share content that is so far from what buyer’s care about.

Press releases symbolize how some marketers are still stuck in “that’s how we’ve always done things” mode. There are simple steps to effectively earn the attention of the media and your potential customers.

Step 1 – Put yourself in the shoes of the media members on the receiving end.

These are B2B editors, journalists, and writers whose inboxes are flooded with dozens – even hundreds – of press releases every day. It’s their job to help readers understand trends and innovations in the industries they cover. Instead of helping them do that, press releases add so much clutter that it has the opposite effect.

Ed Biller, the editorial director for Med Device Online, RF Globalnet, and Photonics Online, spells it out:

A press release helps when the sender understands my audience, as well as precedent, before they send it. I generally only pay attention to and post press releases with direct relevance to readers. Sorry, but no one cares about your minor distribution deal, the fact that you supplied a ‘tier-1’ vendor, that you’ve brought in a new executive, or that you won a trade organization’s award – it simply does not affect our readers. Before you hit send, look at our site’s coverage – who does it appeal to, and is your press release relevant to them in any meaningful way?

If you want editors’ attention, the best bet is to offer up an introduction to a reader and a topic they care about (not a product or service).

Step 2 – Put yourself in the shoes of your customers/prospects on the receiving end.

No customer fires up their laptop every morning eager to search for press releases – they aren’t waiting to read what you’ve written. Your buyers are, however, eager to learn how they can solve their challenges. So instead of explaining how your new product/service, hire, headquarters, award, or funding round impacts your company, take a few sentences to explain what that means to your buyers. And if you can’t directly relate your news to how it can help customers, then it might be time to move on to step three.

Step 3 – Re-evaluate what resources go toward press releases.

Every B2B marketer has this in common: they don’t have enough budget, they don’t have a large enough team, and they don’t have enough time. Find out how much time and money your agency and/or your internal team is spending. It might seem like $99 per release here, or one hour per draft there, is not significant in the grand scheme of your marketing budget, but it all adds up. If you are paying for a press release distribution service or for an agency to create/distribute press releases, that cash can be better spent sending your marketing team to lunch with your sales team to help you get and stay on the same page.

Step 4 – Build a VIP list.

Chances are you don’t need to reach the hundreds of thousands of contacts who are spammed by newswires. Instead, you need your press releases to reach a small list of editors, analysts, and thought leaders who matter in your market. And that’s a good thing because it means that with a little effort, you have a better chance to reach these VIPs while your competitors continue to be ignored by them. Spend the time to research who should be on this list and update it at least a few times each year. Be sure to ask your customers who they follow and respect in the industry.

Take Back The Time Wasted On B2B Marketing Busy Work

In a six-month period from May through October 2019, reader interaction with news content across seven of Follow Your Buyer’s vertically focused B2B sister publications accounted for an average of 0.87 percent of overall engagement. Less than one percent.

That makes it easy to see why the editors of these publications delete nearly all requests to read, post, cover, and share press releases – because 99 percent of their readers’ attention is elsewhere. These readers – your buyers – care about content that helps them do their jobs better, faster, easier, or cheaper. If you’re spending more than one percent of your time and/or budget on press releases, then let this serve as a wake-up call.

Rethinking how you handle press releases may seem trivial. But it can start you on a path of transforming your marketing activities to be more buyer-centric instead of self-serving. If you can make press releases targeted, tailored, helpful, and focused on your customer rather than on you, then you can apply that same criteria to your broader content marketing strategy. And if you can’t improve how you handle press releases, then you can scrap them altogether and take back that time to focus on more effective marketing activities that will result in actionable data.

Want to read more? Check out the article “8 Tips For Vetting Your Marketing Agency” and see why it’s important to put your marketing dollars toward producing actionable data instead of busy work like press releases.