Control corporate messaging with news e-mail

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The Internet's dazzling ability to tap prospective customers can cause marketers to overlook one of the best advantages of direct e-mail: communicating news to build brand and image.

For corporate marketers tasked with public relations, underestimating this channel is a crucial error in building brand and customers.

News e-mail delivered to the desk of astutely defined recipients opens communications with influential audiences everywhere. Small companies gain the same global reach as the largest multinational.

Companies commonly rely on commercial wire services because they perceive news dissemination as a tactic. Wrong. It is a competitive gold mine. News mails help nurture brand, build mindshare, cultivate advocates and initiate conversations at a higher level than straightforward promotions can.

Total reliance on external wire services distances a company from its database and, therefore, its constituencies. News e-mails let you control your database and the vast information within it. You know who receives the news and when, so your contact database stays fresh. Search engines help you tabulate coverage. You can spot trends in how news is reported or ignored.

Recipients often comment about news, so you provoke conversations that share versus sell. The subtle switch creates constituencies and new ears for companies.

Publications often confirm postings, giving important delivery and feedback that can be evaluated, analyzed and even ranked by relevance. By adding coverage data, the picture of global brand perception gets the color fill of a high-resolution photo.

To leverage this database, define target audiences. Include pertinent industry, business and consumer journalists; market and financial analysts; industry influencers at universities and think tanks; industry bloggers; and suppliers. All these people talk about your company, so start talking to them.

Like any marketing tool, news e-mails need to be opened to be useful. Here are some basic starters:

Subject line. Keep the subject line short. Insert the word "news" to delineate the mail as information. Insert the company name in a factual statement.

Mail format. Highlight the message's news content with the words "News Release" or "For Immediate Release." The next line should state the news topic, followed by details. Keep paragraphs to three to four lines for easy reading, and content brief but factual - about 300 words.

The news "call to action." End with a short company descriptor, street and Web addresses and telephone numbers. Include media and marketing contacts, office and cell numbers and e-mail addresses.

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