June 19, 2008
I started submitting press releases in the 80s when I was a college student to help promote one of the many activities I coordinated as the vice president of service for a national service fraternity to which I belonged. Since that time, and especially since the advent of Internet marketing, the philosophy behind the strategy of submitting press releases and measuring the success of a release has completely shifted. The number of clippings from newspapers running your release used to be considered the hallmark in determining the success of a release. That’s no longer the case.
In today’s marketing environment, submitting press releases online is a very viable strategy for attracting attention to your website and to your business. However, the strategy is very underutilized by online service businesses. Why? Because most of us are still operating under the rules of traditional press releases. Many of the traditional rules of writing press releases no longer apply in today’s Internet marketing age.
Here are 10 new rules for online press releases that will help you get better results from your Internet marketing:
1. Write for consumers, not journalists. Today’s online press release is really written more for the consumer of your products and services rather than members of the media. The media may, indeed, pick up your release and create a story or interview you based on that release. However, what is more likely to happen is that a consumer who is searching online for a solution to his problem will stumble across your release and be compelled to take the action that you specify in the release.
2. Set a goal for the release. Do you hope to sell more ebooks, drive traffic to your site, sell tickets to an event, or promote a teleclass? This is how you measure the success of today’s press release.
3. Determine your target audience. Just like with any other marketing effort, being able to address the needs and concerns of your target market is key to creating a successful press release. If you have more than one audience, you may want to create more than one release.
4. Include your call to action. Do you want to invite the reader to pick up free information on your site, register for an event, or buy your newest book? The call to action that you desire needs to be included in the final paragraph of your press release.
5. Create a compelling headline. The headline for your release needs to be compelling and interesting enough to get the searcher to open and read your release. If you struggle to come up with compelling headlines, take a trip to your local supermarket and read the headlines on the magazines that are placed near the checkout lanes. Women’s magazines, Cosmo in particular, have excelled at the headline game for years, as it is the headlines on the cover that help them sell magazines. Study their headline formulas and see how you might apply them to your own business.
6. Promote all activities. No longer are press releases reserved for newsworthy events. Submit a press release for anything that happens in your business: the launch of a new website, your presentation at a conference, the release of a new ebook, election as an officer to a professional association, etc.
7. Optimize for searches. Before completing your release, do a quick keyword search using the free keyword research tool at Wordtracker.com. Optimize your release for 2-3 relevant keyword phrases for which you want to be found that have a fair amount of search traffic. Include these keywords in your headline, sub header, first paragraph, and body of your press release.
8. Write for longevity. In the days of the traditional release, a press release was only available for a short period of time and then disappeared forever. Online press releases, however, hang out for years on websites and can be found in searches several years after their initial release date.
9. Include links. Unlike the releases that appear in print media, your online press release can contain several links to various pages on your site. You may want to direct readers to your home page, to a specific landing page or product page, or to an event registration page.
10. Pay for release. There are many free press release sites online. The dirty little secret of these free sites is that your release is never submitted anywhere. It just sits on that free press release site, never to be seen again. If you truly want your release to be seen online, pay for that privilege. I use and highly recommend PRWeb.com for this service. For their basic submission free of $80, you can get more than ample distribution of your release all over the Web.
Press releases are a great tool to help you in your Internet marketing efforts. Begin slowly, and plan to submit one release per quarter at first, and then move to monthly, and perhaps eventually to weekly. By doing so, you’ll make your site more relevant to search engines, drive more visitors to your site, and position yourself as the well-known expert in your field.
Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at http://www.OnlineBizU.com. Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at http://www.AskDonnaGunter.com.