The days of a business writing formal press releases to advertise new products or services and blasting it out to every newspaper and magazine under the sun are in the past, says Ally Weller, community manager for PitchEngine. Brands need to be empowered to be their own publishers instead of solely relying on journalists to tell their stories.

“We know the future of web is about mobile and traditional press releases don’t fit that mold,” she says.

And PitchEngine is leading the charge to reimagine how brands share their stories with the world. The online platform allows users to create, share and manage their marketing, helping build multimedia messages that can be designed to uniquely fit a brand’s aesthetic and needs.

We recently checked in with Weller to get the whole story on PitchEngine as well as get her take on best practices for today’s online marketing. 

Hi, Ally! Tell us about PitchEngine and what services you offer?

PitchEngine provides brands with a platform to communicate directly with their stakeholders – influencers like journalists, bloggers, investors, brand advocates and their sales teams.

We believe every brand has a story to tell and we want to empower the storytellers. We also believe people want to follow the brands they love. PitchEngine is designed to connect brand stakeholders with the information they care about.

How does it work?

In a way, the “pitch” is to PitchEngine as the “tweet” is to Twitter or the “post” is to Facebook. Pitches are a more sophisticated way to package and share branded content. Share your story and include images or video, then choose a Pitch Style that suits your message.

Every brand wants to put their best foot forward, but that’s hard to do with blogs and website templates. On PitchEngine, each message can be designed differently and the tools to do so are at your fingertips. Pitch Styles are like Instagram filters for your content. Instead of browsing through templates, PitchEngine makes it easy to customize your content for every post you publish.

Why should businesses be using PitchEngine?

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter were not built for brands – they were built for people with short messages to share. PitchEngine is all about packaging and storytelling. We think that expecting people to come visit your island (or website) all the time is unrealistic. Plus, blogs are for blogging and they’re good at that. But marketing is a whole different animal.

Why are traditional press releases outdated?

What was great about the press release was its utility. What doesn’t work anymore is its rigidity and formality. You have to be creative, conversational and concise all at the same time. PitchEngine leverages great content to reach stakeholders on all devices – places where long reads aren’t happening.

Your pages are gorgeous – we’re wondering what solutions Pitch Engines can offer to different industries. For instances, how would you handle pages for a home improvement company vs. a personal budgeting or finance company?

Pitch Styles give your brand a chance to show your content in the best way possible. We use an Instagram-like feature to help style your content once you’ve composed your message. The great thing about our platform is how versatile it is.

The software is very simple to use and designed to make your content pop – but what you choose to feature and focus on can be different from pitch to pitch. We help companies break out of the mindset that they should only create a pitch when they have something big to announce. PitchEngine should be a habit for publishing all types of branded content.

Home improvement companies can create DIY pitches to inspire their customers. Finance companies can give tips about personal budgeting.

What type of company is best suited for Pitch Engine?

While anyone can use PitchEngine, we like companies open to breaking out of the traditional marketing mold. Modern marketing is all about engaging our easily distracted culture through great content and relevancy.

How important are visuals and multimedia to PR?

Visuals and multimedia are crucial to PR. People are more likely to share your pitches or content if they have a great looking image or engaging video. Have you ever watched a YouTube video or read something interesting and instantly wanted to tell your friends about it? People want to share content. And they want to be the one to inform their peers and friends about new things. They don’t, however, want to share text heavy articles without images or video. If you’re not attaching an image to your pitch, you’re missing out.

What are some best practices for creating impactful and memorable visuals?

Thanks to modern technology it’s never been easier to get photos of your business or brand. Cameras smaller than a button take amazing photos. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer if you don’t have the budget. You just need an eye for photography and a smart phone or camera. Are professional photos still useful? Absolutely, but they’re not necessary.

Make sure you’re authentic and real with your photos. Grabbing a quick snap of your customers smiling as they enjoy your product can mean so much more than a professional shot of your storefront.

What do you think are the biggest mistakes businesses make with press releases when it comes to social media?

They think of social networks as a distribution channels instead of individual networks where people have conversations. It’s like walking into a room and shouting about your sale or promotion. Instead, brands need to find a way to be part of the conversation. Press releases aren’t conversational – that’s why we created PitchEngine.

What have been some of your favorite success stories from Pitch Engine?

We love small businesses. The stories we hear about “selling through our inventory” because we reached relevant people or how we “got our book on Oprah” because the presentation to the producers was so well packaged – those are big wins for us. We also get excited when Budweiser shares snippets of their Super Bowl ads the Friday before the big game or when Diddy launches a TV network with a video embedded in a pitch. That’s exciting stuff!

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