Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Press Release Fire "The traffic booster.

This is an ebook that teaches you how to increase your online traffic and it cost you $50dollars to get but here you have it free of charge. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 2 Table of Contents Introduction: Ground Zero .................................................................................4 Chapter 1: Background Noise............................................................................5 What is a press release?...................................................................................5 The Process ......................................................................................................6 Who needs one? ...............................................................................................7 The Benefits ....................................................................................................10 Chapter 2: How to Write a Press Release .......................................................13 Content Matters...............................................................................................13 Components of a Press Release.....................................................................14 The Story .....................................................................................................14 Headline ......................................................................................................15 Summary .....................................................................................................16 The lead.......................................................................................................16 The Body .....................................................................................................16 Quotes .........................................................................................................17 The Boilerplate.............................................................................................17 The End .......................................................................................................17 Contact Information .....................................................................................17 Preparing for Distribution.................................................................................18 Dos and Don’ts................................................................................................19 Chapter 3: Press Release Distribution............................................................20 Know the Press ...............................................................................................20 Specialization ..................................................................................................21 Before Distribution...........................................................................................22 Manual Submissions .......................................................................................22 Making the Approach...................................................................................24 Press Release Services ..................................................................................25 Advantages..................................................................................................25 Common Services .......................................................................................25 Choosing a Press Release Service .............................................................27 Chapter 4: Press Release SEO ........................................................................28 What is Search Engine Optimization? .............................................................28 Keyword-Based Search Engine Presence ......................................................28 Formatting for SEO .........................................................................................29 Keyword optimization...................................................................................30 Linking strategy............................................................................................30 Getting High Rankings ....................................................................................31 Chapter 5: Tracking Press Release Results ...................................................32 Distribution ......................................................................................................32 Publication.......................................................................................................33 Traffic ..............................................................................................................33 Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 3 Cost benefit analysis .......................................................................................34 Chapter 6: Advanced Press Release Secrets.................................................36 Common Myths ...............................................................................................36 Guaranteed Success ...................................................................................36 More is Better ..............................................................................................36 A Press Release is the Best Method for Promoting Your Business .............37 High Rankings .............................................................................................37 Success Factors..............................................................................................38 A Specific Purpose ......................................................................................38 Follow the Right Style ..................................................................................39 Know Your Market .......................................................................................39 Building Success .........................................................................................40 Learn From the Best ....................................................................................40 Distribution – Building Your Reputation .......................................................40 Combine Manual and Service Distribution...................................................41 Dealing with Rejection .................................................................................42 Does Timing Matter? ...................................................................................43 Chapter 7: DIY vs. Professional PR Writers ...................................................45 Writing Press Releases Yourself .....................................................................45 Cost .............................................................................................................45 Personalized................................................................................................45 Other Benefits..............................................................................................46 Verdict .........................................................................................................46 Professional Press Release Writing ................................................................46 Experience...................................................................................................46 Time.............................................................................................................47 Verdict .........................................................................................................47 Costs vs. Expertise..........................................................................................48 Choosing the Right Service.............................................................................49 Hiring a PR service......................................................................................49 Hiring a freelance writer...............................................................................50 Chapter 8: Last Words......................................................................................51 Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 4 Introduction: Ground Zero Press Releases tend to be the least understood marketing tool, especially in the age of the small business. New business owners have a foggy idea at best on how to promote their services, and while concepts like traditional print advertising and Internet marketing have become mainstream, generating publicity from media contacts remains a secret art. The current scenario? Business owners have to pay hundreds of dollars to get press releases written and distributed for them, while not grasping the fundamentals that go into the many steps of preparing, writing and distributing a press release. In fact, as advertising models evolve to include cost-benefits analysis, people are stymied by the fact that despite the promised success, very few people actually end up benefiting from a press release. And all this, as they say, for just one page of newspaper-style talk. Surely something is not right. This book intends to change that. From the word go, it will take you through a comprehensive, step by step tour of what will eventually be a holistic view of the world of press releases. From understanding the fundamental marketing principles associated with press releases and learning how to write a press release, this book will also explore important issues such as press release distribution, search engine optimization, tracking press release results and eventually, talk about the benefits and pitfalls of hiring a professional to do your press release. Like a press release, this book has one very specific purpose – to tell you everything you need to know about writing a successful press release for your business. Of course, there is always a time when you still need more help. This book will tell you how to get that as well. Let’s get started. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 5 Chapter 1: Background Noise When I first started writing press releases, the first thing I learned was the obvious – formatting guidelines. I took a sample press release given to me for the project and copied the style while inserting my own content. It was no big success, but then that was to be expected. It took me some time to figure out that I needed to understand the basic principles behind a press release, and that unless I understood the philosophy (something I call ‘background noise’), there will be no success. So I took the time out to read up a few books and combed the Internet for relevant information. To make a long story short, within a week I landed my next assignment and it was my first major success. The rest, as they say, is history. So, before we get into the technicalities, let us pay some attention to the background noise. What is a press release? A press release (or media release) is an exercise in public relations. In other words, it is a promotional tool. However, contrary to how traditional methods of marketing work, a press release would be considered ‘indirect promotion’. So, what is a press release? It is an announcement made to the news media for the purpose of drawing attention to a specific event within your company. Simple enough. If this sounds new to you, pick up a newspaper (or log on to Google) and check for any news that involves a company. Remember when the launch of the new Xbox was announced? Through a press release. Check the financial section and read about the earnings / profits reports of different companies. Yep, press release. How does the news of company mergers come out to the public? Press releases again. How do the newspapers pick up information on new products and services every day? It is all because of press releases. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 6 A press release is a powerful media communication tool. A little further on I will talk about how to determine whether an event in your company warrants a press release, but first let us look at how press releases work. The Process A press release is not just about writing up a 1-page informational piece and sending it to the media (In Chapters 2 and 3, I’ll tell you in detail how to write a press release and how to distribute it to get maximum exposure for your company). From preparing the news to tracking the effects of a press release, there is a lot more to managing your press releases. Step 1: Preparing your news Before you write a press release, you have to critically evaluate whether an event is newsworthy or not. There are several important factors, including the public value of your company (i.e. how familiar the news media and consumers in your industry are with your brand). Not all news is important enough (within the industry), and if you think it will be dismissed as unimportant (and there is little chance of a newspaper running a story about your latest increase in employee benefits), save yourself the time and money and wait until there is something more substantial to report. Step 2: Writing a press release One you have established the importance of your news, you are ready to write your press release. There are standardized templates for press releases, and while they differ slightly in style, following the main elements will ensure that your press release is not rejected because of something as silly as an incorrect format (something that happens more often than you might think). There are general guidelines for writing a press release, but apart from that there is little in the way of style to stop you. Make sure that you follow the advice given in Chapters 2 and 6 and practice writing a sample press release before working on one for your company. Step 3: Preparing it for distribution Before you can send your press release for distribution, you need to prepare it for maximum exposure. From proof-reading and editing to optimizing for search Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 7 engines to formatting the press release correctly, there are several small details that are very important. Step 4: Distribution The most cost-effective method of distributing a press release is to use an online press release / news release distribution service. Chapter 3: Press Release Distribution will show you how to pick a reliable distribution service, and how to determine whether the costs are justified. Step 5: Track results A press release, like I said before, is a marketing tool. As such, it is important to track its success (or lack thereof). Chapter 5: Tracking Results will give you insights on what factors to cater for, which ‘metrics’ to measure, and the benefits of tracking your press releases. It is also important to understand what a press release is not. A press release is NOT: • From your business or company’s point of view. • An advertisement for your services or products. • A sales letter. • Aimed towards your customers. • For every detail about your company. A press release is a news item that journalists and newspapers can use to write a news article / story. As such it is very important to give your press release a news hook, a story angle and to tie it in with current events in your industry. Who needs one? Despite the numerous benefits (listed at the end of this chapter), people sometimes still end up asking: But seriously, do I really need a press release? And then there are more specific questions, such as: Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 8 • Can a press release work for any industry? • When should I write a press release? • What should I write about? • What makes a press release successful? Let us take them one by one. 􀃎 Can a press release work for any industry? A great feature of press release distribution is the ability to target your market. You can choose to send your press release to those journalists actively looking for information to report on in your industry. To an extent, it does not matter if you are in real estate, financial reporting or the automobile industry. Newsworthy information will always be of interest to people in your industry, and if you can give it the right news hook, your press release will generate the right publicity. 􀃎 When should I write a press release? 􀃎 What should I write about? These two questions are similar: what is considered to be relevant information to write a press release? For a press release to be even considered for distribution (by a distribution service), it has to be newsworthy. This means that the information you provide (about an event and about your company) has to be important enough to pique the interest of the journalists reading it. Here is a list of occasions when a press release is usually written: • Product launch (e.g. Google launches its Corporate Desktop Search in May 2005). • Announcing services (e.g. XYZ Company, an IT startup, now offers SEO services). • Announcing a seminar, conference or event. • Start or completion of a major project (e.g. a construction or development project). • Publication of a book, technical literature or industry-specific newsletter (check the bonus report, Press Release Samples, for a specific sample of such a press release). • Partnership between companies and/or mergers. • Expanding the business (e.g. opening a new office in another country or another industrial setup in another state). Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 9 Then there are some occasions that are usually important only in terms of big, recognized businesses: • Earnings / Profits report. • Acquisition of major assets. • Personnel change (e.g. a new CEO). This is by no means a comprehensive or defining list. Simply put, a press release is written when you have a story to tell and information (of products or services) that people are looking for. The story (news hook) should be good enough to catch the journalists’ attention, and from there on your content will determine how successful your press release is in attracting new business 􀃎 What makes a press release successful? Chapter 6: Advanced Press Release Secrets talks about Success Factors – specific details that can make or break your press release. For now you should know about the cardinal factor that is most important to a successful press release: Your press release must be about something that is important to your industry. The importance here is in the change of perception. To mix metaphors, take off your business-owner hat and put yourself in the shoes of the media (in Chapter 3: Press Release Distribution you will find out more about ‘who’ the media really is). They are looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of news items every day. Not everything is picked as a news story. Sometimes a good piece of news might be kept on file. If you can convince the early readers of your press release (the media) that what you have to offer is important enough that people in your industry will want to know more about it, your job is half done. Writing the press release, while being as much of an art as a technical skill, is only relevant when your news is good. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 10 Have a story to tell, otherwise even the best written press release will not past the first reading. 􀃎 Do I really need a press release? A press release is a highly cost-effective, far-reaching marketing tool. Some people might be tempted to call issuing a press release a no-brainer, but there are also cases where you might not need a press release. If you have any doubts, read through the benefits section below to find out what a press release can do for your company / business. If you still have doubts, read Chapter 2: How to Write a Press Release and Chapter 6: Advanced Press Release Secrets to understand how to: • Determine if your company generates the sort of news that makes press releases successful, and • Build your press release to gain maximum leverage from your news. The Benefits There are several important benefits of using a well-constructed press release. You may be aware of some of them, but understanding what a press release can do for your business will help you better evaluate its importance and reach decisions on the costs of outsourcing press release writing and distribution (if you choose to do so). Distribution / Reach Your press release will be distributed amongst print newspapers, online news sites, and distribution lists related to your industry. With so much of the business world to cover, journalists have come to depend on press releases to stay on top of current events in the business world. A press release is literally distributed to thousands of media contacts from all industries. Essentially your press release will be read by those people reporting in your industry who you may never directly reach otherwise. Relevancy By thematically distributing your press release, you will ensure that people looking for news in your industry will get to read your press release. Local Impact Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 11 By focusing on regional / local news media, you can ensure that your press release and your company will be given exposure in your region. Credibility A press release is a news item. It will be reported by journalists in their newspapers / new sites (even blogs). Your credibility is greatly enhanced by being covered in the news. As a marketing tool, it beats sales letters, joint ventures and direct marketing campaigns hands down for respect. For companies at least, the best publicity is appearing in the news. Coverage of a press release is usually devoid of hype – something consumers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with in traditional sales marketing. Pre-selling your business This is what ‘indirect promotion’ is all about – other people talking about your product / service / company. In other words, this is viral marketing taken to a whole new level. Corporate professionalism Let’s face it: sales pitches, no matter how well-written they are, will always be you talking about yourself. Self-promotion has different degrees – by making yourself visible in the corporate business world, you are not only building on indirect promotion (other people talking about you) but also a measure of respect; if newspapers consider you an important player in your industry, the consumer is bound to sit up and take note. Establish expert status If you run a consulting practice or any other kind of service-oriented business (and even if you do not), a press release and its subsequent coverage can go to great lengths into establishing your expert status in the industry. It highlights your credentials, your achievements, and gives you an ‘important’ touch. Search engine visibility Chapter 5 discusses the relationship between press releases and search engine optimization, but here’s a simple example: PRWeb has a distribution list of over 100,000 media contacts. In addition to distribution your press release to their list, they also post it on their website (which, incidentally, has an RSS Feed that has thousands of subscribers by itself, ensuring that new press releases get Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 12 automatic coverage across the Internet). With such a large list, news reports of your press release are bound to appear in many websites on the Internet. On the other hand, also consider that search engines tend to visit news websites more frequently as they are updated at least daily. With search engines bound to pick up news items on your press release within a day, you have the sort of instant search engine visibility that no SEO campaign can match. And since news websites maintain archives, your press coverage will maintain your search engine visibility for a long time to come. Cost-effective publicity Consider the cost of reaching the breadth of your target market. An SEO campaign to establish your business to the top of search engine rankings, expensive PPC campaigns to attract potential customers, and offline methods of promotion are all significantly expensive, especially for small startups – a press release gives you instant visibility of your product / service for a fraction of the cost – a one-time fee for hundreds (and even thousands) of qualified customers that would never have found you otherwise. As I said earlier, having a good, newsworthy story to tell will go a long way towards determining the success of your press release. However, if your press release is not well written, or if it fails to follow basic guidelines, it will not get past even the distribution services. Now that we have a solid understanding of the basics, let us move on to Chapter 2: How to Write a Press Release. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 13 Chapter 2: How to Write a Press Release I’m tempted to call this the most important chapter in this book. It might as well be, considering that what I’m trying to explain in the space of one chapter is something people easily write books on, and as a money-valuable copywriting service it is second only to direct marketing. So, where to start from? Let’s look at the primary purpose of a press release. Content Matters A press release, or a news release (if that helps you understand it better), is meant to be read by journalists, editors, newspaper staff – people in the media (In Chapter 3: Press Release Distribution, I talk a bit more about the media and how to get them on your side). I want to make sure you understand this. You are writing for the reporters – people who will look at hundreds of news releases coming their way every single day. You have to fight past their cynicism, and make their reading your press release worth their time. In other words, the reporter, the journalist, is not your friend. They are not gullible visitors to whom you can present a hyped-up sales letter and expect them to catch on to it. They see tons of those everyday, and throw them away without a second thought. If you don’t want your press release to be thrown into a trash can, avoid writing it like a sales letter. So what are the reporters looking for? They want something that will make ‘news’. Product descriptions are out. How your product can help make the world a better place is still a no-no. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 14 You need to give your press release a catch, a news hook, an angle. Something the reporter will jump on, something he (or she) will know instantly to be a good story. If I was to tell you just one thing in this book, it would be this: A press release is a lead to a story. Ideally, it should be tied-in with current events and / or industry news so that the resulting story is that much more interesting for the readers. I’ll say it again. A journalist is looking for a story that he knows the readers will want to read. And that is all you should be seriously worried about. That your press release has a story that people will ‘want’ to read. That’s what journalists are looking for. That’s how you should be writing your press release as well. Components of a Press Release The twin bonus reports Press Release Samples and Press Release Templates will give you a fair idea of what constitutes a good press release. I’ve also included links to websites where you can view more samples and templates in the Rolodex. A press release can be broken down into a specific set of components. I’ll discuss them here one by one. I’d also suggest that you open Press Release Templates for a guideline of what makes up a press release and then keep it for reference while you read this chapter. In addition, as I go through the components, it would be immensely helpful if you used the Press Release Samples report for examples on things like headlines, lead paragraphs and summaries. The Story Once again, repeat after me: What is the media looking for? A really good story. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 15 And if you can give a really good story to them in your press release, they will be much more likely to give you the publicity that you are looking for. Where does this story come from? Obviously it must be something that sounds good from the journalist’s perspective (which is likely to be quite different from yours). You have to learn to be detached, objective about your business. By moving back and considering your business in terms of its newsworthiness, you’ll be in a much better place to start writing your news angle. You need to put on your reporter hat and build your story from their perspective. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s say you are the owner of a medical technology firm that is conducting research in innovative techniques towards complete physical recovery for victims of paralysis. Now, from your point of view, the most important thing about your business is that you are a pioneer in medical technology research – maybe you have successfully tested a new technique for helping patients recover partial mobility. Now how do you convert that into a ‘good story’? Work on the human aspect. For other industries, the “hook” may be like the following: • A company’s involvement in social / community service. • A “popular” topic such as the environment. Remember, the reporter / journalist is not interested in your company, what you offer and the amount of time you’ve spent in preparing your service. He’s looking for a story that will be interesting for the readers. With that in mind, jot down the main points of your story, including the angle, the facts that you will present about the industry, your product / service / event and how your company contributes to the “hook”. Headline Your headline is your first and most important try at catching the attention of the media. You’ve seen a newspaper, right? See how the headlines work solely to attract the readers’ attention? That’s how your press release headline should work as well. Make it short, exciting and vivid. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 16 Don’t mention your website, business or company. Keep it relevant to the story, the “hook”. Summary Also known as a subhead, this plays a remarkably useful part in supporting the headline. You use the summary to paint a picture of your “hook”, telling the reporter enough of the story to keep his attention but not enough to satisfy his curiosity. Your subhead should not override the image created by the headline – it serves to compliment it, not to replace it. A strong headline/summary combo is what stands between the reporter reading the rest of your press release and throwing it out. Make it count. The lead The lead paragraph is the first three or four lines of the press release main text. Ideally, the lead should contain all the facts about your story – otherwise also known as the “who, what, where, when and how”. This is no place for hype (well, there’s no place for hype anywhere in a press release); just concentrate on the facts of the story you’ve written down before hand. The lead is the extended summary of the facts in your press release. The reader should be able to glean the details of your press release from a glance at your lead paragraph. You’ll notice how each step – the headline, the summary, the lead – are tools that gradually sell your story to the media. It all builds up into a compelling flow that encourages the reporter to read the details, or the body, of your press release. The Body This is where you will tell your story in detail, meshing in a subtle, indirect pitch of your product / service / company by showing how it contributes in a positive way. Just as the headline/subhead combo was meant to “hook” the reader by throwing them a juicy story, the body text serves to support that story. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 17 Keep your sentences short, vivid, and to the point. Remember that you still need to convince the reader to follow up on the press release by contacting your company. Quotes Use quotes within the body not only to bring in a human element, but also to provide the press release with a newsy feel. You can quote users of your service, experts in your industry or put in your own quotes. Usually, you can have one quote per paragraph (and 3-4 paragraphs apart from the lead and the boilerplate), but these are general guidelines and it is far more important that you meet the word limit criteria of the press release distribution service. In all cases try to keep your press release to one page, and a maximum of two pages. The Boilerplate At the end, put in a small paragraph (two to four lines) describing your company and what it does. Once again, fill it with facts and leave out the hype. Such a paragraph is known as the boilerplate, which is an old newspaper term denoting a standard block of text that is kept on file, and used over and over again. In your case the boilerplate is your company information that you would be likely to use in multiple press releases. The End Right below the boilerplate, place ### on one line. Like you’ve seen in all press releases, this is a standard ending tag for a press release, or a media report. Contact Information You need to provide your contact information so that people wanting to find out more about your company and/or run a story based on your press release can easily get in touch with you. There are several formats, with distribution services sometimes preferring their own form-based input, leaving you to simply enter information like the contact person’s name, email address, phone number and fax number, as well as the URL of your website. As a bare minimum strategy, you should provide enough contact information for the reader to easily get in touch with you. If you want to drum up an interest in your website, or related service that you over on your website, then giving a URL Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 18 is critical. Editors traditionally receive the press release by email or fax, so providing both, as well as your phone number, is necessary. Hopefully during this section you would have opened at least one of the bonus reports, Press Release Samples and Press Release Templates. Use them to discover good examples of press release writing, as well as different formats that press releases might use. Preparing for Distribution Chapter 3: Press Release Distribution contains a short section titled “Before Distribution”, which tells you what you need to have ready before you contact a distribution service. However, right now I’m going to talk a bit about editing and polishing your press release before you can even consider it for distribution. Here are a few quick tips to objectively evaluate your press release and determine its quality and newsworthiness. Print out your press release, set it aside for a day or two and then get back at it with a highlighter: • Check the press release for factual and grammatical errors. Yes, word processors have spell-checkers, but they cannot tell the difference in usage between “four” and “for”. Mark the trouble spots for facts and language both. • Check that your press release elements are within their word limits. Limit your headline to around 100 characters (a little above) and your summary to 200 characters. Your lead paragraph should be compact, and the body of the press release (lead, body and boilerplate) should be around 500 words. More and you might have to cut it down (or pay extra to the distribution services), less and you might not really have a great story to tell. All this is ideally done with a word processor – if you find that you have run over the word limits, mark out the spots where you could possibly cut down on. • Analyze your lead paragraph to ensure that it meets the “who, what, when, where and how” details. • Check your quotes to ensure that they blend in seamlessly with the rest of the story AND the press release. • Print out a new copy and give it to a close friend or relative, preferably outside your company. Ask them to objectively judge the impact of each Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 19 individual element, starting from the headline and moving towards body text. Find out if they were pulled in by the story, and whether the tie-in between the story and the company encouraged them to contact your company. In Chapter 6: Advanced Press Release Secrets, I’ll tell you more about writing a successful press release. Dos and Don’ts PRWeb runs an excellent section on common press release mistakes and another on press release tips. Make sure you read both pages before you start writing your own press release. The information in this chapter, and in the links mentioned above, may be too much to absorb for the first time. No need to worry – if you can identify individual components of a press release and have a solid grounding in the concept of weaving a story around your company’s news, you’re well set to write your own press release. Now that you know how to write a press release, let’s move on to press release distribution. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 20 Chapter 3: Press Release Distribution Once you’ve written the press release, the hard part is over. However, there is still a lot of work to do, small details to take care of, and results to measure. This chapter discusses the ins and outs of distributing a press release, including how to handle manual submissions. But first, a word on the ‘press’. Know the Press In public speaking, understanding your audience, their preferences and moods, is a critical factor in the success of your speech. Just as telling lewd jokes at a eulogy will be inappropriate and talking about your sob stories at a first date (come on, don’t tell me your first dates are easier than any public speaking engagement ☺) is a definite no-no, there are some clear rules to talking to the media. And your press release is all about ‘convincing’ the media to run your story. One of the main themes in this book is how you should put yourself in the shoes of the journalists – people who will be reading your press release. The ‘press’ in the ‘press release’ are reporters actively searching for news. The press wants news that sells, not a sales letter about your company. While for certain things you can generalize about the press, the truth is that sections of the press behave very differently. For one, there is a stark difference between media houses, newspaper editors, independent journalists and endusers subscribing to news feeds from a particular industry. If you are using a personalized distribution approach, capitalizing on these differences will greatly enhance your chances of success. A little later on we’ll talk about how you can personalize your approach to certain sections of the media, but most people tend to use distribution services because of the sheer number of people they can reach via this method. When distributing on a general scale, and especially when you don’t have media houses looking specifically for news regarding your company (you’re not IBM or Wal-Mart just yet), they best approach for you is to master these two factors: • Have a compelling story to tell • Write a winning press release Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 21 Read Chapter 2: How to Write a Press Release and Chapter 6: Advanced Press Release Secrets for the ‘inside track’ on writing successful press releases. Specialization Writing a press release involves telling a story that is relevant to your industry. As such, there are different classes of readers who will be interested in your press release. • General – low interest, hard to please • Focused (Category) – medium interest, hard to pin down but more likely to give some coverage. • Targeted (Sub-category) – high interest, success is directly proportional to the quality of your information. Carrying on the example from the previous chapter, you are a medical technology firm that is conducting research in innovative techniques to speed up physical therapy for victims of paralysis. Who would you target your press release to? • You could go for a general, wide-spread distribution. • You could target only the medical field. • You could specifically target physical therapy, mental health, research and the medical products sub-categories within the general medicine category. Distribution services allow you to selecting specific industry targets for your press releases. But that is only one side of the story. You have to write your press release and weave in the story with your target industry in mind as well. So now, you’re not only writing for the press, you’re also writing for reporters who will be looking for information in a particular sub-category of their chosen field. One of the major factors when it comes to deciding on a press release distribution service is the level of targeting they offer. This and other issues are discussed towards the end of the chapter; for now let’s look at the distribution process itself. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 22 Before Distribution Before you send your press release for distribution, you have to ‘prepare’ it. Here’s how: • Ensure that you can easily identify the separate elements of the press release – headline, summary, lead paragraph, body text, boilerplate, contact information. Distribution services like PRWeb ask you to enter these directly in an online form instead of submitting a formatted press release. • If you are not using the SEO service of the PR distribution company, ensure that you carry out adequate keyword optimization yourself. Note: If you want to learn the keys to success of search engine optimization, make sure to subscribe to this course. • For online distribution, prepare your press release in a Word document, or in a text file. The actual distribution process usually involves converting the press release into an HTML format for online presence, text and HTML e-mails (or via fax) to editors, and syndication via RSS. In addition, your press release is also offered as a PDF download (PRWeb). All this formatting is done for you by the distribution service. • Read Chapter 5: Tracking your Press Release for tips on tracking the impact of your press release before you decide for or against using their press release tracking service. Manual Submissions A manual submission is basically about you contacting a newspaper editor yourself and pitching them your story. While this is essentially free, it becomes very time consuming to reach a large number of people this way. And with free press release distribution services like PRWeb and scores of public relations firms specializing in press release distribution, manual press release submissions are passé. So why am I talking about manual submissions at all? There are several reasons why a personal approach to a newspaper might be just as good as a general distribution. For example, if your press release and its Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 23 news hook are largely relevant to your local market and not really applicable in other states (for example you operate a health-care service in New Jersey), you could consider focusing on local newspapers. While press release services often give you the option of targeting your press release locally, there are three problems in this case: A personalized pitch to one newspaper editor is far more effective than having them read your press release amongst several dozen others and then ask them to make a choice. Very often good press releases are put on a file for later use and just forgotten about. The second problem is that of a lack of personalization. When you write a press release for general distribution (even if it is within a targeted sub-category and meant for your local area), you write in a style that will appeal to everyone on your distribution list. By doing some research and understanding the psyche of a particular newspaper, you are much more likely to score bonus points when you pitch the story in a way that will appeal to their publishing style. Finally, there is a major problem of exclusivity. A personalized approach will mean that the newspaper editor is not getting a standardized press release that, for all he knows, was also received by every other newspaper editor in the state (if not the country). Now, if your company is well-recognized and generates interest of its own, then all is well and good. If you find that one-in-a-million perfect story that will make editors clamor for your attention, even better. But if you are like most businesses, the story will be automatically be in with a greater chance of dismissal because the editor will think that running the story will not guarantee him exclusivity – after all, everyone else in his industry probably got the same news release. If you were a news editor, which story would you rather run? One that you had exclusive access to or one that you knew other newspapers had an equal chance of running as well? As long as the story is not earth-shattering (press releases usually aren’t), and your company isn’t a house-hold name (which it most likely isn’t), your chances of success will decrease automatically. That is not to say that distribution services are not worth the investment. In fact, based solely on the exposure they provide your business they are more than worth their value. But you’re not only looking for publicity. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 24 You’re looking for great publicity. That is where a manual submission, a personalized news pitch to an editor, will really help you. Making the Approach These are general guidelines to approaching newspaper editors with your story. • The most important thing to remember is that you HAVE to have a good story. While a press release might be accepted for distribution with a mildly interesting story (or, as it is the case these days, without much of a story), in this case you are pitching your story directly to the editor. The bar goes higher automatically. • Read up on their style of reporting. If you are in the health care business, look at their health section and get a feel for the sort of news they are likely to run. • Get the contact information for the editor. You can either use their website or check out your local library for a newspaper directory. • Prepare your pitch – you are calling them to sell the story, NOT your product or service. Make your pitch relevant, newsworthy and interesting. Instead of saying: “Hey, I have this great new program that helps patients with paralysis,” try for something like “Hi. As you probably know, victims of paralysis face enormous difficulties in performing basic tasks in their life, and suffer extreme emotional stress as a result…” and once you have their attention, develop the story a bit more and tie in your service. • If interested, the editor will ask you for more information. Prepare a press kit (including your news release and photo) and have it ready to be sent out immediately. • Don’t push too hard. If an editor seems disinterested, it could either be that he is extremely busy at the moment (in which case you should ask him for a more appropriate time to call) or does not consider your story good enough (or in many cases, relevant to their publications. In Chapter 6: Advanced Press Release Secrets, I’ll tell you the best strategies for using manual submissions and press release distribution services. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 25 Press Release Services Over the last few years press release distribution services on the Internet have evolved from simple distribution to a vast array of complimentary services. For sheer popularity, PRWeb takes top spot but there are several other quality news wire distribution services that offer more or less the same services. With costs varying (but within a set range), the only choice it seems is based on experience and personal preference. Note: The Rolodex features a detailed list of the best press release distribution services on the Internet. Advantages • Wide coverage – You can cover a far larger section of your target market than you possibly could by yourself. • Guaranteed distribution – If you pass their editorial guidelines (that ask for proper formatting and a level of quality in writing style and content), you are guaranteed distribution across their network. • Package deals – Add-on services such as search engine optimization, promotion via news feeds and press release editing and writing. Common Services For starters, you shouldn’t even consider spending money on a press release service that does not offer at least the first four options on this list. These are the bare minimum industry standards, and make sure that you fully understand the services that they offer. The recommendations in the Rolodex are wellresearched, but you should also do your own research and find out which service matches your needs the best. The following services are listed in a descending order of importance (determined solely by us): • Targeted Distribution – Distribution in specific target markets within different industries and localized as well as region-wise distribution. Your potential readers are media outlets, newsrooms, freelance journalists and industry analysts, as well as general subscribers that opt to receive news on a particular market. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 26 • Search engine optimization of press release for specific keywords. Includes text formatting, inserting links into your press release and listing the press release under specific keywords in the wire service database. • Press Release Writing / Editing – Press release distribution services also provide in-house copywriters and editors to help you polish and write that winning press release. Press release writing is a skill that comes with experience and with the vast possibilities of media exposure that comes with a press release, the expense of asking a professional press release writer to prepare your press release is worth it. • Distribution to online news outlets – Your press release is also prepared for inclusion in Google News, Yahoo! News, Msn News and other major news search engines. Also includes “paid” inclusion to search engines and portals like Overture and Yahoo, but the eventual efficacy of this is doubtful. The main benefits of being including in the news search engines is that you can then target a large market of searchers who are looking for industry-relevant news every day. • Press Release Tracking – Provide you with real-time statistics on how many people actually choose to visit your press release on the distribution service website, as well as how many people follow on to your website through the press release. • Syndicated News Feeds – Provision of your news item to targeted thirdparty syndicated news feeds that have signed up with the PR service. • RSS Feeds – With the advent of RSS, content syndication has reached a new level of simplicity and reach. Some PR distribution services (like PR Web) provide press release headlines to their RSS Feed subscribers (read more about this in our special guide to Using PRWeb). • Archival on the PR Service web site – If your press release is archived on their website, it gives journalists a chance to come back to a potentially good story later. From a search engine marketing perspective this also amounts to a valuable in-bound link, but the truth is that archival of your press release is more an indicator of their quality of service rather than any other money-valuable, tangible benefits. • Additional media – PR distribution services allow you to add photos and logos to your press release. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 27 Choosing a Press Release Service Some services offer more extensive benefits, while some press release distribution services do not even offer these benefits. The key is to balance the cost of the service with the benefits they offer. Invariably, a free distribution service will not carry the perks of a paid service, but it is a good way to learn about how press release distribution really works (as well as give you practice in writing press releases). The Rolodex carries a list of the top press release distribution services. In the next chapter, I’ll talk about how you can combine search engine optimization and press releases to generate powerful results for your business. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 28 Chapter 4: Press Release SEO With search engine rankings playing such an important part in online business success, press releases have quickly become the primary method of gaining top rankings for your keywords by using paid distribution to put your press release across the Internet on major news websites as well as distribution through RSS. This chapter will essentially discuss two things: • The different strategies distribution services use to get you those top rankings. • What you need to do to ensure that your press release gets you to the top (and hopefully helps you stay there). First, a recap on what search engine optimization is. If you have a good idea about SEO, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs and move directly to SEO Strategies. What is Search Engine Optimization? Explaining SEO is beyond the scope of this book. I’ll try to be as brief as possible, but remember that for quality advice and in-depth knowledge of SEO refer to this course on search engine optimization. In the simplest of words, search engine optimization (SEO) is about making sure that your website shows up as high in search engine results as possible when users search for information / products / services in your industry. One of the biggest (and most successful) strategies of doing this is to ensure that you get as many other websites as possible to link to your website. The more, the merrier (and to a certain extent, the better chance you have of ranking high in search engine results). With competition for the top page (and especially for the top 3 listings) of search results extremely intense, quality links (from high ranking websites in your industry) are at a premium. So how can a single press release help you with that? Let’s find out. Keyword-Based Search Engine Presence Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 29 As I mentioned in the previous chapter (Chapter 3: Press Release Distribution), online press release distribution services have evolved to include complimentary services such as search engine optimization and press release tracking (to determine where your press release is eventually displayed, and to find out how much traffic a press release has brought in). One of the keys to building a high-profile search engine presence is to have quality links pointing towards your website. When you press release is distributed to newspapers and media outlets, it is NOT posted on their websites. So where are the links coming from? • From the distribution service archiving / posting your press release itself. • Websites that place the PR service’s RSS Feed on their website (incidentally, this means that your feed will be ‘cycled’ out as new press releases come in). • Newspapers, journalists and media outlets that post your press release and / or write a story based on your press release in their publication, blog or website. Essentially, a press release is like a ‘shout-out’ in time – you have a limited amount of time make your impact on the media before your news becomes old news and is replaced by fresh press releases. What can we learn from this? Sending out a press release is no guarantee of better search engine rankings. The primary purpose of a press release remains the same: to sell your story to the media. Your success in this regard will determine whether the media will run your story, and in the process, build links for you. Another aspect of search engine visibility is how well your press release is optimized for the search engines. Building links and optimizing your content goes hand in hand; without either one your efforts would be start failures. Formatting for SEO Formatting your press release for SEO requires two steps: • Keyword optimization • Linking strategy Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 30 Let’s take them one by one. Keyword optimization When you search for something on Google or Yahoo (or the search engine of your choice), you use key-phrases to indicate your query. For example, if you’re looking for news on Saddam Hussein, you’ll type something like “Saddam Hussein” or “Saddam Hussein news”. Search engines, on the other hand, rank websites and web pages by a variety of factors, in which one of them is relevance, or how relevant a particular page is for a certain keyword. The details of this process are beyond this discussion, but the point is this: Keyword optimization involves preparing your press releases so that when someone searches for information in your target market, your press release is seen as being as relevant as possible by the search engine. If you want to learn how to do this yourself (and this is straight-forward, follow the instructions stuff), check out the course I’ve mentioned before. Linking strategy The second important part of optimizing your press releases is to use a linking strategy. Note that free press release distribution is always a text-based submission, so you will not be able to add any HTML tags – i.e. you cannot add your keyword-optimized links into the press release. For paid distribution, it’s a different ballgame. You can place links in your press release pointing to your website with the anchor text of those links exactly as the primary keywords that you know are relevant for your business (keywords that people would be using to search for information in your target market). Placing links to your website within the press release then means that wherever this press release is fully displayed on the Internet, it will count not only as one link (in the contact information box), but as multiple links for search terms that are highly relevant for your niche. Alternatively, you can pay the distribution service to optimize the press releases themselves. Usually, the press release distribution service will be able to take care of all aspects of press release optimization, including keyword optimization and placing links in your press release. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 31 Getting High Rankings A press release is no guarantee for your business to get high rankings in the search engines. Instead, your press release is a time-sensitive opportunity for your business to get noticed by the media. Your success in the search engines (based on your press release) directly depends on how well your story sells and how well your press release is received by the media. Don’t be pulled in by the hype of search engine optimization for press releases. It is a complimentary, value-added service that you can just as well perform yourself. Instead, keep in your mind that you are paying the press release distribution services to do one primary thing: Project your presence (via your press release) to a highly targeted market on as wide a scale as possible. The story, the content, the ‘selling’ part of your press release… That is the only key to success with press releases. Don’t get me wrong. Search engine optimization is important. However, don’t look to replace your regular search engine marketing strategy with distributing press releases. A press release performs a specific purpose, and so does your search engine marketing strategy. Both are for different purposes. Your SEM strategy will ensure long-term presence and visibility on the search engines. Your press release, on the other hand, is a limited opportunity to promote a specific event related to your company. Now that we know what steps to take to prepare your press release for the search engines, let’s see how we can track the results of your press release distribution. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 32 Chapter 5: Tracking Press Release Results A press release, when properly optimized and distributed for search engine visibility, can be a good source of traffic, depending on how newsworthy your press release is and how popular your industry (or rather, your target keywords) is. By tracking the traffic from your press release distributions, you can accurately measure the success of each press release and do the following: • Use the ROI to determine how much you can afford to spend on further press releases. • Determine what you need to do to improve your results (better content, increase distribution, more optimization, etc.) Tracking the success of a press release requires measuring four important metrics: • Distribution – how many media outlets your press release was effectively sent to? • Publication – What is the conversion rate for your press release, or in other words, how many reporters ran your story? • Traffic – What sort of traffic to your website / interest for your company has the press release generated? • Costs vs. Benefits – Do the results of your press release distribution justify the costs? Let’s look at them one by one. Distribution Online press release distribution services usually provide hard numbers on distribution up front to woo customers. This is precisely why PRWeb boasts about “more than 100,000 media contacts in our database”. The truth is a bit different. Packages usually allow you to target only one or just a few subPress Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 33 categories / markets. To go further, and significantly increase your distribution, you’ll have to pay more. Make sure that you have a clear idea of your distribution figures, and that you know where your money is going. This will in turn allow you to determine if what you’re spending on a particular service is actually worth it (considering the results), and allow you to decide if you need to try out a new service. Publication This is tough to calculate, and almost impossible to predict. One tactic to find out if your press release has been used for a story is to use a very neat feature, Google Alerts. It sends you email updates of the latest relevant Google search engine results and fresh content based on the search terms you provide. For our purposes, this is a powerful tool for measuring the impact of your press release. Simply use your company’s name as a search term, enter your email address, select “News” as category and you are set to go. Here’s the link again: Google Alerts. Note: At the time of writing the top ranking website for “Google Alerts” is a venture by Indigo Stream Technologies, http://www.googlealert.com. They are NOT affiliated with Google. Google Alerts will send you regular updates on your search engine visibility from your press release. Alternatively, some press release distribution services also offer tracking facilities, which are far more advanced (and therefore cost accordingly) than Google Alerts, which is free. Traffic A quick-fix method of measuring the increase in traffic for your website through a press release is to use a specific URL in the press release in the contact information section. For example, instead of using http://www.yourcompany.com use something like: http://www.yourcompany.com/press. This will allow you to directly measure the hits generated from each press release. Of course, there will always be an overlap as some readers will manually enter the URL and thus miss the special page, and some people would probably arrive at that special page through another link of your website. A complimentary Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 34 technique is to use your website’s traffic tracking software / service to measure the number of hits from particular URLs. This technique might not be so necessary as all distribution services offer a minimal hit tracking service, but this allows you to monitor things at your end instead of going to the distribution service and checking traffic statistics every time. If you are tracking your press release across multiple press release distribution services, you’ll need an easier method of accessing your traffic data. Once again, PR services offer comprehensive press release traffic monitoring services that go far beyond what you would be able to manage on your own. This includes detailed traffic analysis and reporting, and as always the only downside is the cost. Luckily, all such services provide free trials, so use that to your advantage and find out if you need it. Cost benefit analysis Costs for writing and distributing one press release through a single distribution service can easily exceed $500. With such expenses, you’ll want to know where the money is going, and more importantly, whether it’s bring back comparable benefits in terms of publicity and revenue. It is important to break down your costs into individual components to see how much you spend on press release writing, optimization, distribution and tracking. This will also help you pinpoint where you can cut your costs for your next press release. In addition, you need to look at the benefits of a press release. Theoretically (and I say this without sarcasm), a press release is supposed to announce your product / service / business event to the media. As such, it is a wonderful tool and no price is too less for promotion. In reality, a press release is only useful if it is effective – that is, it generates an interest in the media and inspires a newspaper or news forum, however big or small, to run your story. Those are the only hard results you should be looking at. Sure, traffic statistics sound very pretty – getting 1,000 hits on your website through your press release is great, but if you have spent $500, and all you get for that is a mention in two small publications and $200 in sales, the venture is an unfortunate failure. Also, you have to take care to measure the results within a certain time frame, usually a few days (3 minimum, a week at most) at least. Also, ensure that you can differentiate between regular traffic and sales and promotion due to your press release. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 35 Tracking your press release is a must if you want to use it as a marketing tool. Just as you would measure the results from a regular advertising campaign, and test your market with a trial period, use your first press release as a trial. In other words, if your first press release is not a success, don’t throw the idea out of the window. Go back to the basics and try to determine what you can do to improve results, and see where you can cut costs without compromising on results. In the next chapter, I’ll talk about the Success Factors that can make or break your press release. Press Release Fire By Brad Callen Copyright © 2005 Pressreleasefire.com – All rights reserved 36 Chapter 6: Advanced Press Release Secrets An ‘Advanced Secrets’ chapter is always a sign of trouble. It builds up expectations in the minds of the readers, leading them to think that there MUST be something of extremely high value within the pages. And if you fail to deliver, the whole effort, from preparing to writing to marketing the book, falls flat on its face. Luckily, with press releases, there are enough insider tactics to talk about and I’m sure that unless you are an absolute veteran at writing press releases (in which case you don’t need this book, do you?) this chapter is bound to teach you a new trick or two. Oh well. I’ll let you decide. Common Myths First, I want to dispel a few common myths associated with press releases and their success.

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