Sunday, October 6th, 2013
When it comes to putting on a successful online marketing campaign, there are many strategies one might use to get their message out there.
However, there is one relatively ‘new’ method of online marketing that has gained a lot of attention in recent years – press releases.
Traditionally, press releases were used as official statements by companies, corporations, businesses, community groups or governmental agencies as a way to communicate the occurrence of news worthy events to the masses.
They still are considered trusted sources of information today and their purpose remains the same.
However, today – press releases are used for much more than just getting a story out there. They can also be an invaluable marketing tool.
Some instances where a press release may be used as a marketing tool are:
Of course, today, press releases move much farther much faster than they used to when they were still being distributed to media outlets by hand. Anyone can distribute press releases at the moment of their choosing, simply by putting it on their blog or company website.
The Internet not only provides a lightning-fast way of getting their message out, it also opens new doors to international markets that may not have been available to them before.
While press releases can definitely create a buzz about a business, product or brand, they can also help with a website’s search engine ranking as well. Backlinks are one way press releases help with a website’s search engine ranking, but not just any old press release will do the trick.
Actually, some press releases – especially poorly written ones – can have the opposite effect on a website’s SEO campaign and actually get them penalized for lackluster content.
Having lots of content on a variety of topics isn’t enough?
It has to actually be good, well-written content to boot?
Right. And this includes press releases, too.
It doesn’t matter how many releases you put out there for your business. It doesn’t matter if they get picked up by MSN, Google or any other high ranking media outlet. If it’s poorly written, irrelevant or just not newsworthy, a press release will absolutely work against you instead of working for you as it should.
Not only that, you want your press releases to convert readers into clients.
The idea of using press releases for marketing purposes is to get people thinking, “Hey. That sounds interesting/neat/cool. I want to find out more about this business/brand.”
To do that, you have to create enough of a buzz in your release that it leaves people wanting to know more. That natural curiosity is going to be what brings traffic to your website and what ultimately turns curious visitors into paying customers.
So what are some ways that your press release marketing campaign will be a success?
We have a few tips that you can follow – 25 of them, in fact – when writing your press releases to ensure they bring the results you desire.
1. Be very certain you have something that is news-worthy before putting it out there.
Although it would be nice if they did, the general public likely does NOT care about every trivial step or move your company makes. Be sure you save the special stuff like big product news, new releases and other major events for press releases and the things of lesser importance for your blog or company website.
2. Create an attention-grabbing headline.
Nobody is going to want to read a press release with a headline worded to sound like it just contains lots of irrelevant corporate drivel. Pique their interest with the wording in your title. The more interesting the title, the more likely they are to read the release and follow the links.
3. Make the first paragraph the most important.
Give them an abbreviated outline of what’s in the press release and do it in a way they won’t be able to resist reading further.
4. Don’t ramble on and on.
Press releases are meant to deliver the “5 Ws” in the most concise, yet effective manner possible. Your press release should be written so that people can easily skim and scan its contents to quickly find the information they seek – the what, who, when, where and why. Try to keep your press release at one page in length for best results and reader-friendliness.
5. State facts, not opinions.
When possible, use concrete data, numbers and percentages that can be verified in your press releases. This makes for a more professional release and establishes you as an authority on the subject.
6. Quote your sources.
People want to hear things ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’, as the old saying goes. That’s why including quotes from company officials or representatives is important. Plus, it adds a personal touch to an otherwise drab informational piece.
7. Provide additional details and references.
People are going to want all the information they seek at their fingertips. Since reading your press release may raise questions in their minds, it’s very important to provide relevant links to where people can do a bit more research on the topic at hand – such as your business or company.
8. Don’t be overly promotional.
Even though the idea of the press release is to promote your business or brand, nobody likes to feel like they are being sold to all the time. Keep the tone informative and friendly to avoid turning people off.
9. Use plain, simple English.
Or Spanish. Or Dutch. Or German. The point is, whichever language you use in creating your press release, keep the language simple to understand and avoid any excess flowery fluff.
10. Identify the source.
Don’t just bark out a bunch of information to people and expect them to read it. Tell them upfront who it is speaking to them in the press release so that the information is more palatable.
11. Provide something tangible.
The information in your press release should tell your readers why this announcement is a big deal and what it means for them. A sale? A discount? Something free? Better service? Whatever the case – show them why they should care.
12. Be professional.
You want to sound professional at all times without coming across as stiff or unfriendly. Simply tell your readers what you want them to know in a matter-of-fact way that gets to the point.
13. Have a point.
What do you want to happen when people read your press release? Do you want them to buy something? Go to your website? Attend your event? Have the end result in mind before you ever begin writing the release.
14. Know your audience.
You have to know who you want to reach before you begin talking. If you don’t, you won’t know what to say and your message will fall on deaf ears. First determine the demographic you want to reach and then tailor your release to appeal to that demographic.
15. Know your subject. Intimately.
If you aren’t well-versed on a subject, you can’t speak about it with any authority so keep that in mind when writing a press release. Educate yourself about absolutely every detail pertaining to the announcement/event/message in the release so that you can speak on the subject with ease and so that the wording comes naturally.
16. Remember that nobody cares what you think.
Really, they don’t. So don’t push your opinions of how great the company, product or brand is on anyone else. Instead, give them the information they need and the resources to make an informed decision for themselves.
17. Come up with relevant keywords.
Think like someone who was using a search engine to find the kind of news or information that is contained within your release and then come up with your keywords. Ask yourself, “What would I search for if I was looking for this kind of information?” – and let that be your guide.
18. Use those keywords wisely.
Of course you want to put some in the title and the first paragraph of your press release, but be very careful that you don’t stuff the release with keywords beyond the point of being legible, which often happens when inexperienced writers craft press releases.
19. Don’t use first person pronouns unless you’re quoting someone.
This goes back to #16 and how nobody cares what “I” or “we” think. So save those two pronouns for your direct quotes.
20. Avoid overkill.
Even though you may think you’re doing something news-worthy, everyone else may not agree. That’s why you should avoid going overboard when sending out press releases. Once a month is ideal. Twice a month is acceptable. Anything more is overkill. Don’t do it.
21. Compare perks between distribution services.
Of course you’re going to want to submit your press releases to distribution services so be sure you compare the perks of a few of them before you decide on which one. Sure, there are plenty of free ones that might appeal to smaller budgets, but your ROI when paying the $100 or so that the high end distribution services charge could be several times greater. Or not. It’s a gamble, but one worth taking if you really want results.
22. Include addresses along with the city and state in your release.
If you have a street address for your business or company, include that in your release as well. Doing so can help rank your release with local search engine algorithms for increased exposure and maximum SEO benefits.
23. Don’t forget the contact details.
Include as many of them as you can think of. Phone number. Cell number. Address. Email address. Website. Everything. The easier it is to contact you or find you online or elsewhere, the more likely people are to do just that.
24. Proofread your release.
Once. Twice. Three times. Be sure you’ve dotted all your Is and crossed all your Ts. Be sure your sentence structure is up to par and that there are no typos or grammatical errors. Poorly written releases will not only turn readers off, they cast a poor light on your brand.
25. Invest in the services of a professional writer if you do not have the skills to craft the release yourself.
You want to be sure that a press release not only provides all the information that people need, but that it is also well-written so that it doesn’t reflect poorly on your company. If you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, be sure that you contract the services of a qualified writer to craft the release for you.
If you decide you want to take the plunge yourself and create your own press releases for distribution, educating yourself no the proper format is imperative. Press releases are not typical articles that you can just bang out with putting much thought into the process. There is a distinct formula for writing press releases that must be followed.
Don’t let that scare you from trying, though.
Practice makes perfect and with a little effort and a lot of research and understanding, you, too, can create press releases that bring results.
Remember to try and fit all this information onto one page, if possible. A one page release is more easily distributed, much more reader-friendly and significantly more professional than a several page release that talks in circles and confuses the reader.