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.