Press Releases

Press ReleaseLately I’ve had quite a few people inquire about the benefits of distributing a press release. People seem to be of two minds on the subject. One side believing that press releases have little use among Web 2.0’s 104 character tweets, Instagram and live iPod streaming. They believe the market is over saturated and that the traditional (READ: antiquated) press release has gone the way of the dinosaurs. The other side clings to a blind faith. Their unrealistic expectation is that their press release will instantly be picked up by a major new source nationwide, for no money at all, rocketing their company to overnight success.

So, which side is right? Well, neither thankfully. While it’s true that today’s news consumer does have a shortened attention span, and the old industry standard press releases should be modified to today’s marketplace, they still can offer a great deal of value to a company and should not be overlooked, or dismissed as ineffective. However, it’s important to realistically manage your expectations of how a press release will affect your business. Even in their glory days, press releases have always been a news story. Not a sales letter, not a direct marketing campaign. You will see no sales conversion from a press release (at least not in any direct way). But they can still offer a great deal of value to company who knows how to use them.

So, I’m sure you’re curious as to how a press release could benefit your business, so let’s break it down. For a press release to generate the most valuable possible, it should contain these four key components. A press release should:

  • Strengthen your brand.
  • Establish your expertise or credibility in your field.
  • Clearly demonstrate to your reader how your company can benefit them and provide value to their daily lives
  • Provide clear, concise instruction on how to contact you.

Keep in mind that a press release is not like any of the other popular online content. It is still intended to be a news story, and as such it should sound like a news story, not an advertisement or sales letter. A press release should always give the reader the impression that it was written by an unbiased third-party. Although we all know that is no longer the case, press release distribution sites are still very strict about this policy and frequently decline articles that sound like they are selling something, while maintaining a neutral third person voice. Although this might sound limiting, it can actually be a refreshing change of pace for your reader. A common reaction to this type of limitation is to try to fight the structure, to look for ways “around it”.  But that will result in a rejection or, a poorly executed version of what you normally do. But if you submit to the unique format of a press release, you can create a well-crafted, compelling, even fun article by taking advantage of its strengths. And with the right subject, you can easily knock out all four of the key components in one punch. By paying someone to crafting a news story that is, in fact, 100% biased, and created specifically to showcase your company in the best possible light, you are playing a little sneaky trick on your reader. It’s nothing to feel guilty about, or even try to hide. It’s innocent reader manipulation. The reader will know that they’re reading a press release. If they thought about it, they would no doubt deduce on their own that you are actually the driving force behind the “breaking news” and not some unbiased news editor, sworn by journalistic integrity. But if your writing is effectively crafted to be entertaining, engaging, and includes the aforementioned four key components, and chances are, your reader won’t give the gentle manipulation a second thought.

Now that we have a clear understanding of what the content in a press release should accomplish, let’s look how your company can benefit from regular press release distribution.

Compared to traditional advertising, press releases are extremely inexpensive. But notice that I didn’t say free. Many companies make a critical mistake when they try to distribute their press releases for free. Although there are a number of distribution sites that offer free submission, if you want your press release to be seen by a targeted critical mass, it’s important that it goes through the proper distribution channels.  Generally speaking, the websites that offer free distribution don’t have as wide of a reach, nor are they as credible, and none of them offer immediate release for free. However, you can find plenty of reputable distribution sites that range between $10 and $30! I suggest, you do some research and submit your article to four or five distribution sites for a nominal fee. Then afterwards, you can decide how many of the free sites you want to use. Even including a writer’s fee, you’re still only looking at a couple of hundred bucks for the entire package. I’d say that’s a significant advantage over traditional advertising! Next to cost, one of the most obvious benefits of a press release is exposure. Because they are so cost effective, you can submit new press releases as often as you’d like. I suggest you have a press release written anytime there is a change to your product line, company updates, new services are announced, when you update your website. Any opportunity you have to position your company in a positive light deserves a press release. One of the lesser known benefits of press release distribution is the expose that your article will have within influential circles. The PR gurus who run these press release sites might not recognize your company name the first time your press release comes through their door. But you can bet your bottom dollar that by the tenth time they will. Even if they know nothing else about your company, name recognition will have already been seeded. So when you do create a reason to reach out to key influencers, you’ll already have an advantage. Consider it just another form of online networking. But instead of just throwing up a social media page with your picture and resume, this networking has value and serves a higher purpose.

When you first decided to create a press release, exposure was no doubt a motivating factor. However, equally valuable as exposure to eyeballs, is exposure to search engines. The term SEO has flooded internet marketing and PR sites over the last few years. But how well do you really understand it? Have you taken the time to educate yourself on the nuances of SEO? Are you proactively optimizing all your online content for optimization? Many people view the algorithms that Google and other search engines use to optimize searches as a big mysterious black hole. Content goes in. Then magically, when requested, relevant content comes out. While the algorithms are by no means easy to understand, they are based on simple concept and statistics. If you know the rules that Google uses to rank content, you have a much better chance of being spit out of that black hole first. For instance, did you know that Google adjusted their algorithm just last month in an effort to eliminate poor quality content? The outcome? Higher rankings for press releases. Not only are press releases not going the way of the dinosaur, but their value has actually increased in the eyes of the largest search engines and content aggregators on the plant! As Google’s results become more sophisticated and their searches more refined, a press release that appears on page one will instantly boost your credibility. To solidify your spot the front page, you to need proactively optimize your content. Many online copywriter mistake SEO for keyword stuffing, with devastating results. Search engines are wise to keyword stuffing. They watch for redundancy and rank repetitive content extremely low. Making your content time sensitive will boost your rankings. But unless you keep updating your articles with new time sensitive information, it will slowly fizzles out, until week six, when it is ultimately retired from search results.

With all of this new information, I’m sure your brain is already starting to percolate, formulating strategies for optimized content, brainstorming creative story ideas. Just remember, writing a relevant, entertaining press release that effective incorporate the four key components mentioned above, takes a writer with skill, experience and creativity. Keeping up with the ever-changing rules of SEO can also be a full-time job. As a small business owner or fellow entrepreneur, your schedule is already full. It’s my job to keep up with these crazy trends and provide you with content that will have the best possible chance of being seen, and read. Entrusting me with these critical responsibilities will not only strengthen your online brand, but will give you an edge over your competition. I am more than I mere letter writer. I have a strong background in sales, and I know the importance of an ROI. I create each press release with the understanding that this will most likely be your first interaction with potential clients. That first impression needs to be captivating, memorable and engaging.

I offer a full press release service, which includes writing and distribution through my existing channels. I’m happy to write a single press release, But I do encourage all of my clients to consider an ongoing program, spacing releases no more than six weeks apart for optimal results. This will ensure that your content stays fresh, your search engine results don’t drop, and will give customers a reason to return to your website to read updated information. For a quote, contact me today using the form below (Just until my email finished migrating. I promise I will respond quickly!) Please include the type of service you are requesting and your website, if applicable. In the meantime, I encourage you to peruse my other writing and transcribing services. From proofreading to a full-scale online content strategy, I would be delighted to discuss how we can improve your content’s ability to attract new customers, encourage repeat business, and provide added value to your current customers.

Yours Truly ~

Elizabeth James

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