By know, most are getting used to the idea of including CTAs (call-to-actions) in their online messages. A call-to-action is basically where you tell people what to do next.

Let’s just contemplate this for a while … what to do next?

Having struggled with creating great content, publish it in a timely manner while being social with your community. If you forget about the next part, you’re of course excused. It’s pretty easy to forget about it.

However, I would argue that this next is the most important aspect of them all.

Here’s why:

Let’s Say You’re About To Send Out A Press Release

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’ve created a press release about your new product line.

You’ve researched and asked many questions to understand how this new line of products will position your brand in the marketplace. You’ve been smart and created targeted messaging which will resonate with your audience emotionally and logically.

The first draft has been sent out internally for approvals and edits from management, the sales department, the product developers — and, of course, legal. After quite a few revisions and meetings, your press release is good to go. Your PR agency has asked you to push back your release date a couple of days. They develop a pitch on how to get a few selected journalists to cover your news before it’s all over the place.

In the meantime, you prepare your personal send list, a promo for it in your next newsletter and you schedule your release to go live on your online pressroom. And of course, you spend some time preparing your selected wire service so that they are ready to push the button when it’s time. You create an accompanying blog post and a deck of pre-written updates for your social media channels. As your message goes live, there’s a lot of work that has gone into the process. And maybe you feel very good about yourself.

But should you, really?

Why The User Perspective Is Another Story

There’s a zero chance that a given prospective customer will see (and least of all appreciate) all the work that you’ve put into your press release. The prospective customer will probably only see one or two outcomes of your efforts. And they don’t really care about your efforts anyway. That customer might see a single tweet about your news. If this customer (and this is already a big if already) clicks your tweet and end up on your online press release somewhere, will they then read the actual press release?

Well, some will. A select few.

Imagine a person who have seen your single tweet and they end up reading your press release from beginning to finish. Now, let’s pause here and reflect.

Visualise this person, having taken several steps just to consume your message, crafted with such an effort.

Now, what?

Most press releases have the same generic call-to-action (CTA). It goes a little something like this:

“For more information, please contact …”

What?

Here’s a person, a very rare person I might add, that are so into your messaging that they’ve undertaken several crucial steps to consume your messaging. And you (or your useless PR agency) leave them with some generic and vague next steps?! It’s NOW your efforts are beginning to bear fruit — and you turn your back on users with proven intent?!

Don’t Waste Your Users Intent — Leverage It!

These rare but extremely valuable prospective customers are obviously in click-click mode. They’re obviously hungry for more.

Now is NOT the time to try and get them to pick up the phone or ask them to send your spokesperson an email with questions they have to come up with themselves. Now you need to tell these people, who are obviously into your messaging, where they can go next based on what their intent tells you about them.

  • A great call-to-action isn’t “read this”. Because they’re already there and reading, right?
  • A great call-to-action is not “for more information contact this person” or “leave a comment”.

That last one is a scary one. “Leave a comment” about what?

If you’ve gotten a prospective customer this far, don’t be so lazy. Guide them. Tell them exactly what types of input you’re looking for — and why.

“But My Press Release Is Targeting Journalists …”

Some argue that journalists don’t need call-to-actions. Because they know what to do. If you’re of this persuasion, let me stop you right there. You’re not including clear call-to-actions because your users are stupid or have no clue about what to do.

You’re including great call-to-actions because you want to be of great service to them. If you’re targeting journalists, list a couple of interesting questions your spokesperson can provide answers to — if they call them. I mean, if you’re serious about getting journalists to pick up the phone, then you’re already implying that there’s more information to be gotten beyond the press release, right?

If not, then don’t ask journalists to contact your spokesperson. Point to them to somewhere which will help to create your story, just don’t waste their user intent.

How To Create A Great Call-To-Action

A good call-to-action:

  • tells users what to do next.
  • is based on the intent (previous clicks) of the users.
  • outlines very clearly what you ask of them — and why.
  • doesn’t have to compete with lots of other CTAs.
  • makes it clear to the user why they came there in the first place.

In the comments, let me know what you think about adding CTAs!