Lee Odden

Press Releases as Marketing Tools

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Press releases were originally designed as a communication tool between company PR staff or public relations firms and the media. But now that online news sites such as Yahoo News and Google News contain such an abundance of press release content and RSS makes it easy to syndicate news, press releases can be effectively used as a direct to consumer communication tool.

Not only are press releases an effective tool for distributing content to the media and consumers, they can easily be syndicated creating a excellent opportunity to attract incoming links. Some of the press releases our SEO firm optimizes and distributes have gained as few as 30 unique domain name links and some have garnered over 500 – all from a single press release.

Using progressive wire services like Business Wire, PR Newswire, PRWeb and Market Wire simplifies the process of getting news content into these popular news search engines.

To get an idea of how popular online news search is, comScore has reported that half of all internet users visit an online news site in a given month. Also, of all the online news sites including MSNBC, the New York Times, CNN, etc., Yahoo! News is the number one online news destination.

Realizing the opportunity news search offers, many company marketers continue to flounder at making sure their press releases receive maximum exposure. To that end, here are 10 tips for maximizing the visibility of press release content:

  1. Start with something worth announcing. Boring news gets little results no matter how well it’s optimized. It’s important to focus on a specific topic. Too much information and focusing on too many keywords will dilute the message for both news search engines and readers.
  2. Think upward and to the left. Optimize a press release using web page optimization principles and keep in mind that important keywords need to be near the top of the document with the most important keyword phrases first.
  3. Distribute the release via a wire service like Business Wire and PRWeb or PRNewswire. If you distribute the same release through more than one wire service on the same day, it is very likely that the news search engines will filter out the duplicates. If your story has more than one angle, take advantage of that and mix it up.
  4. Give the reader a reason to click through. A direct to consumer release needs to offer more than an announcement of news. It needs to provide the reader with an action opportunity. Examples include: white paper downloads, free trials, special offers, podcasts, webinars, reports, email newsletters and consultations.
  5. Create a landing page to convert referred press release visitors to prospects. You use landing pages with your PPC campaigns, don’t you? Then why not use them with your press release? Embed links in your release to relevant resources as welll as a strong call to action. Along with giving the reader a reason to click through, the destination of that link should be designed to bring the visitor further along the sales cycle for whatever the desired outcome is.
  6. Assemble a list of media contacts for the release and email them the release along with a concise, summary. Offer an exclusive if you can and suggesting story ideas that clearly indicate you’re familiar with the writer’s work can do wonders.
  7. Make it relevant and make it easy for journalists and bloggers to write about your news. Research bloggers that write about the topic and pre-write a summary of the release for them. In many cases, bloggers will simply copy/paste all or part of your summary and add their own commentary.
  8. Post the release to the company blog enabled media room. Ideally, the company site contains a blog that can archive press releases chronologically and by category, offers a search function, lists previous media exposure, contains links to media-centric photos, audio and video as well as an RSS feed to make it easy for interested parties, including journalists, to subscribe to company news.
  9. Write a blog post version of the news and submit to relevant social media sites. This does not work for all types of content and you need to be sure what you’re writing resonates with the culture of the social media networks that you want to promote to. Do not submit press releases directly to Digg, Netscape, Reddit, Stumble Upon, etc.
  10. Use social bookmark sites as a clipping service. Bookmark pickups of the release using social bookmark services such as del.icio.us, Furl.net or blogmarks.net. Such services can be linked to from the online media room and many become crawlable links for search engines.

As with any marketing effort, after the content is distributed, it’s important to track effectiveness. Tactics for tracking press release results include:

  • Embed tracking codes in the links from the release to the landing page.
  • Monitor the web analytics of the site the press release links to for referral traffic sources.
  • Setup Google alerts to monitor when the release gets picked up.
  • Monitor blog search engines like google blog search and technorati for pickups.
  • Monitor standard search engines for pickups and links.
  • Track conversions from press release landing pages.

For a more nostalgic look at press release optimization, take a look at this post from 2005, “Lowdown on Press Release Optimization“.

 

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Do you ever bother with smaller, free article distribution networks like Ezine and Article Dashboard? Obviously they won’t have the same exposure as PRWeb or PRNewswire, but do you think it’s worth the effort?

  2. Hey Drew, sometimes we’ll do a bit of work with article submission services, but for the most part, content distribution via press releases and RSS is most effecive.

  3. The large distributors listed in step #3 seem to severely limit the number of active links to other sites allowed in a press release. Does that mean that the additional links sugggested in steps #5, #8 and #10 are primarily for placement within the version hosted on one’s own company site? Are there ways to work live links into a distributor’s version of the press release?

  4. Most wire services allow links within the release. They may not be anchor text links, but you can post the full url.

  5. Malaysia SEO says:

    Great article, Lee.

    I have previous did a comparison of free press releases sites in terms of search engine friendliness, ease of submission and the readership:
    http://increseo.com/blog/an-in-depth-look-into-free-press-release-site/

  6. Hi Lee,

    I will back you up 100% on backlinks gained from sending out quality press releases. In fact, our product has produced some amazing results for our customers in that regard.

    Thanks for the excellent article.

    Rod

  7. Tips #9 and #10 are excellent, and I’m going to add them to my free email tutorial called “89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases.” You can opt into the course at http://www.PublicityHound.com. It includes lots of samples of great npress releases, including several before-and-after makeovers.

    The course teaches anyone who wants to self-promote how to write press releases not only for journalists, but for consumers.

  8. Thanks, Lee. I posted about your great post, but couldn’t find a trackback link so I’m letting you know about it here! We’re interviewing Joan Stewart tomorrow on BloggingandBeyond.com radio show precisely about these changing press release guidelines, so your post is timely, thanks.

  9. It a good idea we promote your product by it.

  10. Amy Cham says:

    Oh wow…fantastic post. Can’t wait to try these out on my next press release.

    Thanks!!!!

  11. David Dalka says:

    Nice summary post of a very important topic! Not enough people think about these issues!

  12. Really interesting.

    One of my clients, an online search marketng agency PushON asked me this week to write a press release for a viral marketing video they have produced called “Number one on the Google” – a satirical look at the ignorance of some companies and their knowledge of the Internet.

    I had my doubts that it was press worthy, even online. But it was explained as you have done in terms of objectives, as a tool to generate interest and links.

    I will write up my blog http://www.artisanmc.co.uk about your entry

    Rob

  13. Hi Lee,

    We’ve been using this technology for a while and you make some great points but for us its been primarily about link building and a little traffic generation.

    But now us SEO’s are treading on the PR worlds toes, should we be working with them? After all they should be better writers than us. Or as we understand the technology and they struggle to embrace new ideas, should we be taking the online PR market place for our own?

    Would love to hear your comments on my related article:

    PR is dead, long live SEO!

  14. Thank you everyone for the kind comments I am glad this post/article is useful.

    If this topic is of interest, I should note that my public relations firm publishes another blog specifically about online PR and media relations at Media Relations Blog.

  15. Great article, the 10 steps are very useful.
    I currently use [url=http://www.newdesignworld.com/press/]Web 2.0 Press release[/url] to distribute my press release/

  16. sorry messed the link, do i need to repost?

  17. Great article! I use the free press release sites in volumn. In other words, when I send out a press release, I do it in mulititudes and have seen a product go from obscurity to claiming the number one spot in the search engines. One such product did this overnight which was amazing because I did not use any of the paying services. It was a lot of work, but the results were outstanding. BTW, I was looking for something in Technorati and found your blog…I can’t wait to sift through here and read more. I can’t take in too much online marketing information…I love it.

  18. Dorothy, that must have been a pretty niche concept that claimed the number one spot. Free release services do not typically add much long term value in that way. The real benefit from press release SEO is short term in the news search engines and long term in the links from pickups.

  19. Oh, it most definitely is and what is really amazing is that I latched onto this idea by accident – trial and error – you might say.

  20. I’m all for wide distribution of a press release, but marketers seem to spend to much time seeing how broad the reach of a release can be through SEO and syndication. Good PR is still about connecting with a narrow audience, especially if good media coverage is a desired outcome. Our company, TravMedia.com, distributes travel industry-only press releases to travel industry reporters and editors. It’s a narrow, focused distribution channel that works for our clients, and this focus should not go away in good PR programs.

  21. Just discovered Lee Odden the other day – wow! Just the kind of info I need.

    I KNOW I saw something on the ‘Net in a similar vein – 9 reasons (I think there were 9) why online marketers should try to attract offline publicity. General principles.

    Can’t find that anywhere now, though – think it was on a blog, thought it was THIS one – can anyone help?

  22. I am relatively new to PR and such, but I met with a colleague who gave me some critical advice that may negate part of your 6th point. She said never ever send your release in an email unless you know the contact and/or they have specifically requested it. Reporters apparently hate unsolicited material. Just thought I’d throw it in the mix.

  23. Katy, I’ll take your colleague’s advice with the same credibility as I take my plumber’s advice on auto repair. 🙂

    Reporters have relied on unsolicited pitches since email has existed and before that it was via fax and before that it was via courier or by snail mail.

    A poorly crafted and irrelevant pitch is what annoys reporters, not all pitches. Otherwise, they’d have a hard time meeting deadlines with new story ideas.

    Tell John Waddy I said hello.

  24. Just thought I’d let you know I was so inspired by your piece that I added a link to it in one of our blog pieces. I’ll be sure to tell John you said hello. haha and thanks for the comment/advice (i know i’m looking at it in belated fashion!)

  25. I was wondering how you deal with the fact that even after seo’ing the release, most of the links get stripped out, rending it a brand builder rather than a seo tool.

    I am trying to use our press releases more intellegently by including links to relevant pages of the site, but the link stripping is driving me nuts; to the point where I am looking at the Shift Communications Social Media Release and thinking that I may get more mileage out of something like that.

  26. Lee,

    Excellent article. We too have found press release distribution to be an integral part of our marketing strategy. Something that we did find interesting though was we tried two different types of press release service. A large name brand (www.PRNewswire.com) and a smaller company http://www.24-7pressrelease.com that we had never heard of (they showed up fairly high under press release service, so we thought we would go with them). The interesting part is that for the “name brand” service, we paid a fair amount, the 24-7pressrelease.com site we paid $45. I don’t know if it was the subject of the release, or timing, but we found the 24-7pressrelease.com site to give us better results! They also gave us image attachments, and keyword linking. Have you (or anyone else) heard of them? I am also keeping my eyes out for clipping services if anyone has any recommendations.

    Thanks!

    Brian.

  27. I like Meltwater News for clip tracking.

  28. “If you distribute the same release through more than one wire service on the same day, it is very likely that the news search engines will filter out the duplicates.”
    According to the above mentioned comment (no.3), is it best to choose one PR website to distribute press releases (i.e. prweb.com) or simply spread the press releases over different days on different websites.
    I certainly don’t want to “spam” our press release, so was wondering if anyone had any suggestions, thanks!

  29. Hey Lee – some really useful advice here! We have this week opened a new free press release site to the public which is entirely ad free too, and is fully RSS ready etc. The site runs on WordPress to keep it free and easy to use.

    Find it at http://www.your-story.org

    We’d appreciate your comments and advice too!

  30. Thanks man…

Trackbacks

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