What is a MAT Release?

Nels Urtel March 5, 2017

MAT release, matte release, syndicated content, advertorial — however you spell or say it, this PR tool is meeting the needs of the shifting landscape of America’s newspapers and media outlets.

Even though MAT releases have a long history, for many people this communication tool is a new concept. Because it has evolved tremendously over the last several decades and offers impressive outreach potential, let’s take a step back and explore the basics.

Press release vs. MAT release

A press release and MAT release are somewhat similar. They’re both powerful PR tools that help brands extend their message to a broad audience.

It’s the target of that message that makes the key difference.

A press release is aimed at journalists in hopes they’ll become interested in your product, service or event. The ultimate outcome would be a journalist being compelled to write about it in whichever publication they work for.

A MAT release is a little bit different. It’s longer than a press release and is a feature article geared to a consumer audience. Traditionally, MAT releases have appeared in newspapers and publications to complement staff-written material. With the advent of the internet, MAT releases have become a powerful digital marketing tool, as well.

While many newspapers have cut staff, the need for intriguing copy that attracts readers and advertisers remains. MAT releases are used by editors to supplement staff-written stories, often in feature sections like home and garden, automotive, food/cooking, health and wellness, and other consumer-oriented areas.

Elements of a successful MAT release

MAT releases can come in many shapes and sizes. Most commonly, they’re in the form of an article or listicle. But no matter how they come, here are some critical elements of successful MAT releases:

The right length

Typically, we think of the ideal MAT release length as an article between 500-750 words, a bit longer than a typical press release, which usually clocks in at about 300-400 words. But new research might suggest that the sweet spot for most kinds of sponsored content is right at 400 words. MAT releases can be longer or shorter, but that might impact the placement and print clip rate. One exception is what we call Quick Reads, something we just started offering as a free add-on to MAT releases in certain categories. A Quick Read is a regular MAT release condensed down to 150 words or less and is designed to extend print pickups. It features most elements of a regular MAT release with fewer words fit in smaller print margins.

Provides value

Audiences use the internet to find answers to their problems or to find interesting ways to do things. The best way to ensure a successful MAT release is to provide real, actionable value for the reader. Numbered and tip-based MAT releases tend to perform the best, as they help readers do anything from solve problems, find a new recipe or simply learn a little more about an interesting topic.

Avoids the hard-sell

A good way to turn off an editor is to overly tout a brand. As much as readers value good information, they don’t want to be sold to. We employ a strict two-brand-mention max when creating MAT releases for our clients.

[Want to write an awesome MAT release? Check out how to avoid the hard-sell in your sponsored content]

Uses facts, but…

Of course, everything you state in the MAT release should be verifiable. But relying too much on facts, figures and statistics can make your MAT release read like an industry report. Industry reports can be informative, yes, but they’re not usually very engaging to read.

The MAT release and paid media

Paid media was sort of a four-letter word in PR for a while. Earned media was the crown jewel and paid was an absolute last resort. But, as content marketing and digital publishing continue to skyrocket and the internet becomes a pay-to-play world, the stigma is falling away.

[Want to learn more about the promise of paid media? Check out our paid media webinar!]

We know editors love the MAT release because it’s a piece of high-quality content at no cost and with little to no editing necessary. The editors get well-written content to help fill up their pages and brands get valuable impressions and trust-building exposure to their audience.

But their real value comes into play when PR pros map out their PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned) strategy.

[Want to learn more fun terms? See if you can find it on our big list of marketing acronyms.]

The PESO model represents a dramatic shift toward a more balanced marketing strategy. And, among the four elements of PESO, the MAT release fits perfectly into all of them:

Paid

In most cases, the MAT release is originally a paid-media placement. We work closely with hundreds of PR agencies to create and distribute quality MAT releases and leverage our unique (and pretty massive) distribution network to secure digital and print placements in some of the top publications and media sites in the country.

Earned

The MAT release is what we call sponsored content. And, although sponsored content comes with a price tag, it also comes with tremendous earned-media benefits. ***

Shared

MAT releases (listicles, in particular) are a tremendous asset on social. Think about a company like Buzzfeed. They basically made a name for themselves with that content type. MAT releases, if created correctly, can be a brand’s most shared asset.

Owned

Even if we write them, the brand owns it as soon as we press “Publish.” MAT releases are a terrific way to supplement a brand’s blog or fill out any media channel the brand might own.

Why the MAT release works

The MAT release works because it seems like everyone gets what they want:

  • Brands get impressions, engagement, a little brand recognition, etc.
  • Editors get high-quality content to help fill their editorial calendars.
  • The audience (most importantly) gets actionable, valuable information in a convenient and entertaining way.

BONUS: This all comes at a much lower cost than traditional advertising.

Can a MAT release help you achieve your goals? If you’re like most companies, from small startups to Fortune 500s, the answer is a resounding yes. Check out more info about the power of a Brandpoint MAT release and tell us how we can help.

Nels Urtel March 5, 2017

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