Wondering how to stand out from the crowd with your Twitter press release? Well, dyeing yourself pink only works for rabbits: read on.
My PR cohort, Marc Cowlin, has recently written a couple articles on press releases. His first asks the simple question, “To release or not to release?” His second studies the anatomy of a press release through PR’s glorious history of train wrecks, celebrity rehab and various corporate announcements.
As he and I were talking about his next article (Press release SEO, which is obliquely mentioned in the first article), we started talking about how much Twitter has come along as a PR channel since we first started using it for marketing in 2008. And we decided that it would be a good idea to come up with a quick guide to the Twitter press release; after all, getting your target message to the right person in 140 characters isn’t always easy.
I’ll go ahead and assume that anyone reading this article has a good grasp of what makes a press release worth doing. (But if you want some tips on that, or want to figure out a polite way to explain to your coworkers the reasons you’re not going to write a release on [insert random non-newsworthy topic], please see the article on press release evaluation.) Determining whether your energies are best spent doing something is a consideration you should address with any business initiative, but most especially with one that’s asking an influencer – in this case, most often a journalist – to take some action on your behalf.
Treat Twitter like a Rolodex – Ideally, you’ve been using Twitter to build up a list of journalists and influencers in your industry (and by this we mean a Twitter list, and/or an actual list that you keep locally). If you haven’t been doing this, start now: reporters are on Twitter, and they’re using it as both an information distribution and acquisition channel. Good PR is dependent upon good relationships, and following key journalists and influencers and engaging with them with RT’s and @ mentions are good ways to make yourself known to the folks that matter.
Look Beyond Traditional Media for Influencers – Journalists, bloggers and citizen editors can all be people who can get the word out about your press release. An influencer is someone who has built up a level of trust with their followers, so don’t be afraid to think outside the borders of the New York Times. (Check out Marc’s article on identifying PR influencers for more depth on this topic.)
Quality is Better than Quantity – Just because you can tweet to 1000 people doesn’t mean that you should; do your research and target the right people for your message. Good PR tools have journalist targeting features that allow you to find the journalists that are most relevant for your message. You can, for example, find journalists who have written positively about pit bulls within the last 6 months in New Hampshire. These hyper-targeting features can get you a short but powerful list of the folks that matter, and you can also dig into their profiles and get a feel for how they position the topics that matter to them.
Try Twitter Ads – Now that you’ve found the right list of people, should you tweet @ them all individually? Well, no: that looks SPAMMY and painful. This isn’t to say that you can’t tweet @ a person or two, but any more than that looks bad. If you’ve built up a good list (per #1), you can DM the influencers in your network with your release. If you’re following them and they’re not following you, this can’t happen and you have to tweet @ them – or do you? Actually, you don’t: Twitter ads have a “Tailored Audience” feature. You can import a list of emails (Twitter will compare it with theirs, so there may be some breakage there from reporters who use different emails in their publication vs. their Twitter profile), and/or you can manually enter people’s handles. You can also use a retargeting method and use a third-party app to target the ads for folks who have been cookied on your site: for example, you might want to display your ads to people who have visited a specific product or press page in the past.
Use Photos – A traditional press release often has a photo, especially when it’s distributed via online wire. While logos are commonly included in a written release, that’s not the image to use on Twitter: choose something eye-catching that services to punctuate your tweet, rather than distracts from it. If you can’t find anything and you’re lost in questionable stock photos, abort the mission. Not every Twitter press release absolutely needs a photo.
Use Your Tweet Like a Banner Ad – …because 140 characters + optional photo is essentially a banner ad. Asking a question is a good way to get people’s attention; asking a provocative question is a better way. Put on your Don Draper fedora and think of something punchy. Remember, your goal with this tweet is to get the click through, so use those characters wisely, soldiers. Bear in mind that, in this model, your press release is your landing page – you’ll want it to have cohesion with your tweet.
Use Hashtags that Appeal to Your Target Journalists – Hashtags are how people search for topics on Twitter, so if your release has something to do with a larger topic, go on ahead and hitch your wagon to that star. If you’ve built up a good list of influencers on Twitter, check what they’re tweeting about before you do your release – you may get an idea as to how your own release positioning can best garner exposure.
Read Before You Tweet – This sounds obvious, but because Twitter is such a short-format content channel and because of its twitchy nature, people tend to be a little more lax about reading before they Tweet. Make sure that your tweet is 140 characters or less (RT’s are less likely when you’re doing an announcement, but you never know: you might leave some characters there), and make sure that you’ve included a link to the actual press release. Test that link, too: sometimes, weird stuff happens with link shorteners and technology in general. So check that tweet twice, then push it.
And there you have it: 4+4 Twitter press release tips to help you rock your press release in 140 characters or less. If you have any more Twitter press release tips, we’d love to hear them! Hit us up in the comment box.