Press Releases – are they really worth it?
Why bother writing a press release? Most business press releases contain so much blatant advertising and lazy repetition that the lurk around inboxes unread and unloved! There was a time when your release could gain a few valuable links from press release submission websites, but Google has long ago ignored and indeed penalised this clumsy link-building strategy.
Before looking at reasons why you should still produce some timely and appropriate news releases, it is worth going back to some of the basics about what makes a good press release. Publisher Nigel Tomkins, founder of Air Cargo Eye, describes a worthwhile press release as one containing “no jargon, no clichés, no blatant advertising commentary, no grammatical errors, no banal repetition and no over-long, complicated sentences guaranteed to jettison a reader’s interest in a nano-second.” Fed up of receiving many thousands of time-wasting and badly written news releases, Nigel has produced an excellent guide called “how to write a press release” and we suggest you download his free template before continuing much further!
So now you are armed with some tips on how to write a simple, appealing, relevant and timely press release, it is worth reminding ourselves why most businesses and organisations continue to do it…
If you have a new product or piece of news you want to shout about, a press release is still one of the best ways to gain instant exposure. Even if you don’t have a bulging black book of journalist contacts you can simply send your release to all you relevant email and business contacts – it looks professional and if it is well written then people will take notice.
There are also a large number of distribution websites which will take you press release and send it to journalists and organisations within your industry – for a fee of course. This is a good way to get started as over-time you will begin to build you own journalist contacts. There is a comprehensive list of PR Distribution websites on the Press Association website.
Looking Professional and becoming an Industry Expert
The perfect scenario is that you write lots of detailed and interesting press releases, and over time, you become recognised as an expert in your field. The beauty of this is that people start coming to you when there is news impacting your industry. In exchange for a piece of information or a quote they will cite your business and ideally your website. This is not something you achieve overnight as reputations take years to build, but you have to start off somewhere!
Building your web traffic
Most business will tend to see a spike in their web traffic when they send a press release. This is no coincidence. You email out a great press release to plenty of interested parties, people read it and click on the links to your site that you have helpfully provided. Over-time, they bookmark your website and come back to you. Press release are a great way to help build an audience by reminding people that you exist and getting returning web visitors!
Search Engine Optimisation and Google Rankings
By sending out press releases you will get links from other sites, perhaps quoting a piece of information from your news story. You should always post your press releases on your own site as by definition they will hold important and recent information. Consider linking from your homepage to your most recent press articles. Snippets from your latest releases can help to keep you home page refreshed which helps with Google rankings.
There is also a superb marketing opportunity in terms of optimising the content for search engines. Matt Janaway, a digital marketer and founder of Marketing Labs stresses the importance of reinforcing your keywords in a press release, so as to maximise search engine potential. Matt commented on one of his press releases, “I made sure that the most important keywords, (Social Media Management Dashboard) appeared in the heading, url and meta data” – see an example of this best practice here. If you stick with this advice, your press releases will begin to rank naturally in search engines for some of your keywords.
Multi Channel Outreach
You will probably send out your press releases to a distribution email list and via distribution sites. However this does not exclude you story being picked up by any other media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, not to mention the full range of social media networks. It only takes one large media outlet to pick up the story to potentially get things moving. This really does justify putting a lot more work into a news release than you would a routine blog post!
Press releases are no magic bullet to drive rapid sales growth, but they are a very useful weapon in the marketing manager’s armoury. This is why most businesses continue to produce a steady stream of them.