I’m still buzzing from the Vocus Demand Success Marketing & PR Conference in DC last week. I gained wisdom attending sessions and gave insights as a speaker too. The conference was fun, energetic, and oozed savvy people in the marketing field.  Despite the diversity of attendees, we all shared a common passion – to help our companies and consumers connect with content.

My session was called Supercharge Your News Releases.  I co-presented with Quin Woodward Pu and Abby Hammer (two brilliant professionals I might add!). Quin and I gave real-life examples about our experience with PRWeb to support PR, marketing and social media.

Lorrie Thomas Ross speaking at Vocus Marketing & PR Conference
Photo via PRWeb

My first encounters with press releases (and PR overall) was purely in the name of web marketing. As a marketing consultant who helps build marketing strategy and optimize marketing, I am always looking for ways to help use web tools to build credibility and visibility.  How to do this is always connected to content.  I saw PR and marketing teams spend time on press releases.  Once they were sent to media, investors or customers, they would vaporize into deep, dark, marketing nothingness.  I would ask (someones would have to insist) that we re-purpose the content and help change the time spent into something that was more of an investment by putting them on the web.  PRWeb was (and still is) our recommended web solution to distribute that content.  The nice thing about web content is that it builds and compounds over time, increasing a company’s web marketing footprint.  Why just spend time on press releases when they can be invested to work for years to come pulling in visibility and supporting credibility?

Once the re-purposing of PR content was going, I had another a-ha while listening and supporting our clients.  A LOT of information happening with our clients was PR worthy, but it was not being written about! I’d hear things like “we are sponsoring this charity for the 8th year in a row” or “We are speaking at this symposium”. This kind of news (that really helped show the personality of a company) was all press release worthy and was also ending up in deep dark marketing nothingness.  We make decisions with our hearts – to get to the heart, we need a way into the mind.  Content like press releases are an untapped opportunity!

This lack of press release writing on topics that mattered was a pattern across all my clients so I began to break down why this was happening so we could have the marketing breakthroughs.  The block was an internal inner-voice definition of marketing – the sentiment was that marketing was more of a way to push products or services, not as a way to pull in connections! After I prescribed the problem (the meaning of marketing), I diagnosed a re-train of the brains not think marketing but to think education.  Marketing, social media and PR is about service and support – not pushing sales.  The name of the game is to be more educational.  My marketing interventions would wrap up with a new word: markEDing as a replacement of marketing to help start the steps to a healthier approach to press releases (and all of marketing overall).

Marketing + Education = MarkEDing [Click Here to Tweet This Tip]

MarkEDing helped bring down the walls and to build up new press release topics to write about. Press release topics can come from content already published on a blog or a newsletter, or it can simply be about educating about things happening within the company that helps people understand who their organization is. Educational PR content was sometimes as easy as re-purposing content – a recycled press release if you will.

Organizations are not limited to just one press release distribution site (although we admit, we are strongly addicted to PRWeb). Press releases can be distributed throughout several PR distribution sites. On PRWeb, I love how videos on YouTube can be inserted into your press release. Recycling content for news releases is a way to really get your message out there.

Education is the whole basis of marketing. When writing news releases, is it important to educate your audience. And yes, all organizations have value but its important to weave in those values into your press releases. Sharing values is an educational way to get to the heart of the end user.  Value + Values = Voice.  This is the era of the social web, all organizations need an authentic voice.  Think markEDing to marry your value and values to help your online voice come alive.

Press releases are not only done to increase visibility. They also promote credibility, visibility, sellability, usability, scalability – it’s a multi-tasking form of marketing! Press releases have the power to get you more than just one positive result. And remember, at the end of the day, whether you are a B2B or B2C organization, news releases are all about people to people (P2P). [Click Here to Tweet This Tip]

The way we write needs to remain human. It’s also important to get to the hearts of people. This can be done by adding a quote with an authentic voice.  Quotes are the most important part of your release because they bridge your value and values with a human voice.  It is critical to give something to the media that they can use when distributing your news. Remember, when adding a quote to a press release, the media has full disclosure to use it.

Lorrie Thomas Ross Chris Brogan
I freaking love Chris Brogan!

Social media and marketing thought-leader Chris Brogan was so brilliantly raw when he spoke on Getting Your Freak on for Success.  He emphasized caring about our customers and making the customer the hero – an important message to all of us, no matter what business we’re in.

Randi Zuckerberg was an awesome morning keynote.  I love her authenticity, her humor and her entrepreneurialism.  Her outing of the overuse hashtag #blessed and bad food pics were funny and sooooo true!

My selfie with Randi Zuckerberg - photo via Vocus
My selfie with Randi Zuckerberg – photo via Vocus

The culminating event moment for me was when Marketing Profs CEO, Ann Handley made us think about what marketing would look like “if your customer signed your paycheck”? That was an eye-opening analogy for all of us. At the end of the day, it’s all about providing quality work to to the people who matter most: our customers.  Are you approaching content in a way that would make your customers want to sign that check?  Think about it.

Being part of the Vocus Demand Success conference was an awesome experience! I got the opportunity to share my PR story and be in the presence of experts who truly love helping organizations as much as I do. I left DC inspired, connected and SUPERCHARGED to demand success!  Here’s to healthy marketing!