For effective PR, aerospace and defense contractors should chuck their reliance on press releases and leverage their own websites and social media.
Press releases (also known as news releases) have been around since before World War I. For most of that time, press releases were integral to a company's effort to try and tell their story through the news media.
Like most marketing and public relations tactics, the press release has been changed forever by the Internet. And while press releases can still be one arrow in a defense contractor's marketing quiver, they are playing a less important role.
From a search engine ranking standpoint, press releases have until recently helped companies obtain valuable inbound links to their websites. You could issue a press release through a news service and it would generate a link back to your site and include the anchor text that you wanted. In 2013, however, Google announced that optimized anchor text in press releases would be in violation of their Webmaster Guidelines.
As a result, defense contractors should now reassess their reliance on press releases. They can still be used for major corporate announcements or financial news, but in terms of generating news, there are now better options available.
Because of the Internet, you can now speak directly to anyone. You are no longer required to go through a media gate keeper like a news organization. Twitter has displaced the major news wires for breaking news.
Now, every company should think of themselves as a media company. A publisher.
That's what Raytheon has done with their brand journalism approach. They are speaking directly to the people they want to reach. And that includes the news media, which is picking up content from their website for their own reporting.
Similarly, CSC has hired former journalists to develop thought leadership content that is of interest to their current and prospective customers.
Blog Instead of Beg
Rather than begging for news media coverage with a press release, do a blog post instead. When you feel the itch to send a press release to the news media expecting them to do a story, develop the story yourself and put it on your blog.
This enables you to control the story, draw more visitors to your site and keep a growing number of readers coming back for more. And, the news media can still use the blog post for their own coverage.
Leverage Social Media
Once you have content on your company blog that is interesting, educational or entertaining, use social media to extend your reach. Social media marketing expert Jay Baer best explains the role of social media this way: "Content is fire. Social media is gasoline."
After you've developed a blog post, cut it up into bite-sized social media snippets to promote it and drive more traffic back to your site. And make sure to use Twitter because it's the most popular social media platform for journalists.
When deploying social media, remember to make it as visual as possible. Studies show that more you can use visuals in your social media, the more effective it will be. This includes photography, video and infographics.
Don't Stop Pitching The Media
Rather than using the outdated and increasingly ineffective "spray and pray" approach of press releases, contact reporters one at a time. Before doing so, research which reporters cover your industry, how they like to be contacted and then find out how you can help them. Then, once you've done this research you'll know which reporters would be a good fit for different story ideas. Your success with the news media will improve.
Your turn: What are you using other than press releases to tell your company's story?