Using online press releases correctly

There are two main ways a press release is used to generate online awareness for a product, service, or individual.

The first way sends out a press release to a mass of online newspapers, blogs and websites. The distribution makes no attempt to target readers by their interests or demographic characteristics.

The press release is published in low value media with no relevance to the sender.

The strategy behind this attempt is to generate links from media outlets back to a designated website. In theory, these links enhance the credibility of the website.

If this strategy every worked, it certainly no longer does. Google has been on a mission for years to discredit linking strategies of this kind.

While they may hurt a websites overall SEO profile, they certainly do not help.

On the other hand, the second way of using online press releases and generating publicity is effective. This method is based upon the original intent of press release writing and distribution.

Brief history of the press release

While it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact origin of the press release, they have been in popular use since at least the time of the America Revolution.

At that time, they were referred to as fliers, but the intent was the same: to inform the general public thru the media they read. A flier would be printed, and then distributed to local newspapers for reprinting.

As the number of newspapers expanded, a new profession, called ‘public relations’, came into existence. Public relations companies wrote press releases about their clients, hoping to get influential media interested.

The key was finding an angle that would interest the media. When successful, the free coverage to their client was of great value.

Best use of online press releases

The basic concept of using an online press release for publicity and to attract media attention is the same as it has ever been. The only difference is the tools employed.

The process begins by finding media who will want a story because it will be of value and interest to their readers. In today’s world, with so many online media, this can be a time intensive research project.

Fortunately, there are tools to help. There are online directories and guides for media based upon the industries they target. Google searches are also effective for discovering the right candidates.

Once media have been chosen, the task is to encourage them to either print a press release, or follow up with a story. As you can imagine, this is not easy.

Online media receive many requests for coverage. Often, they have a very small staff and budget.

Nevertheless, the process of finding relevant media, and then contacting them, is how the game is played. In future articles, I will discuss strategies and tools that may this possible.

 

 

 

 

Internet marketing’s questionable return

If you plan to spend hours and hours writing posts and then promoting on social media, you should understand what the likely results will be.

If you intend to establish your personal online identity by creating records under a Google search for you name, you will probably be successful.

If you intend to dominate a search category of any significance for a business entity, you will almost certainly be not.

In most instances, there is not high demand to create search records for a personal name.

A person’s name is associated with the name itself – and that’s all that matters.

A business, on the other hand, wants to be associated with a product or service, and that’s why it’s tough.

For example, it’s easy for me to have the name of my business ‘webfour.net’ appear in top search results for ‘webfour’, but having it appear in the top results for ‘web design’ is an entirely different issue.

Google practices favor the incumbent

Virtually every significant product or service search category is dominated by participants who began the process years, and years ago.

They have created enormous numbers of articles relevant to what they offer, and thousands of websites link back to that content.

These links are incredibly important to Google as the decide which pages to present for search queries.

Links are very hard to get, and the process of ‘link building’ is tedious and very time consuming.

The links, plus the content, age of the domain, and a few other factors,  allow Google to determine credibility.

Once a website has earned ‘expert status’, the can maintain there dominant position with a minimal effort.

Adding to the visibility problem are paid advertisers. High traffic categories have dozens of companies vying for top position.

Fortunately, Google is no longer the only way to be seen online, and to generate traffic. Social media advertising offers an attractive option.

 

Online publicity: focusing on an audience

Online publicity generally uses external means to generate interest. The most common of these is press coverage, often initiated by a press release.

It’s an important distinction, as internet marketing begins with an internal function – creating content. Once written, the content is promoted in various ways, including social media.

Content marketing, as it is called, ultimately depends upon generating links to that content from other websites to readers with similar interests.

Successful online publicity means that the subject is mentioned by media sources, thereby brought to the attention of the readers.

Convincing influential media – whether online or offline – to publish information, is never an easy task. It’s a process that requires research and follow though.

Most online media are very niche focused; they attempt to carve out small audiences and deliver relevant news and information. By understanding their audience, it’s possible to enlist them as a partner in a publicity campaign.

A recent example illustrates this point. A client specializes in holistic medicine. While she has an excellent reputation in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, she is unknow outside of California.

As she is interested in broadening her reputation, we decided to ask the larger medical blogs and websites to publish an exclusive article on a topic in her area of expertise.

The response was tepid, so we decided to narrow our focus to smaller media that covered her specific audience. This required more articles, and hence more work, but it turned out to be well worth it.

The smaller, focused media were thrilled to publish her work. They gave the articles prominent position in their blogs, and promoted directly to their readers via email and social media.

The results were better than we could have hoped for; a big increase in her email list, links back to her website, and numerous favorable comments.