The Press Release Isn't Dead – It Has Evolved

I hear a lot lately that the press release is dead. Or that your press release isn’t enough. You must use social media press releases. They’ll have you think that a press release must to be transformed to include social media, including video, images, and/or podcasts. This is not true.

Instead, the press release has evolved. It’s now online and the audience has shifted from a journalist to your customer or web searcher. Instead of being distributed by people, it’s more often by a search engine.

Traditional media don’t often use press releases as sources of news. They search for news in search engines and they read blogs. Most get stories via email pitches. Today, your press release goes directly to search engines, your peers, and potential customers. And there is great value in this.

So what is a press release good for?

  • Traffic to your web site.
  • A formal permanent record online (content directly from you).
  • Rankings in search engines
  • Building a positive reputation and name recognition for your business starting online and sometimes spreading offline too (television, newspaper or magazine articles, etc).
  • Getting your name out regularly, and provide a more formal representation of your business than other mediums. Get wider distribution online by using a press release distribution web site like PRWeb that puts you in the largest online news sites.

Writing a press release shouldn’t be the only thing that you do to market your business. They should be an ongoing part of your overall online marketing strategy.

The power of a press release is just how quickly you can get it in front of 10,000 eyes and go directly to the people you are speaking to. Through a feed reader, a tweet, a social media page, an email list you joined, etc. It’s so fast and immediate. You write a press release and it’s permanently in search engines the next day.

Sure people can read information on your blog, but that is a more informal way to communicate. It has opinion and is usually more informal (not filtered through legal or marketing). A blog is often just one person’s point of view.

Go ahead and send out personal emails to journalists or bloggers who cover the topic and summarize the main points of the news. Don’t just send out a press release though. Bullet point the main ideas and include a link for reference. Give your contact information.

The way you write a press release for online distribution is different than it’s been in the past.

  • You should be very SPECIFIC in the terms you use.
  • Because people are using search engines to research your company or niche, you should pay attention to the keywords you use, how you use them, and how often you use them.
  • You should include links in your press release to further information. Most people use no links or only link to the main page of their web site. Instead, link to specific pages or documents (you may need to create them) that relate to the story.
  • You should use keywords as the link text.
  • You should make your press release scannable and easy to read. Shorter paragraphs, subheadings, etc.
  • Don’t use your business terminology and language unless you’re marketing to another business. Instead use the specific words and terms that your audience uses. How do you find out what those are? Keyword research, your own web site analytics.
  • Get in the habit of using a lot of descriptive words that you often assume people know. Search engines classify and determine meaning through context. So use common terms and use lots of  related words.

Here’s a practical example: a professional organizer offers organizing services. One service is helping clients organize paper. I start by typing in the words: “how, organize” into a keyword tool. I find out the ways people are searching for information about organizing.

I learn one phrase is people want to know “how to organize and file paper documents.” So the next time the organizer is doing a workshop on this subject, the press release goes out with the headline “Oragnizing Expert Speaks on How to Organize and File Paper Documents.” The press release would include words like file, organizing a home office, paper documents, and specific types of documents people commonly file.

There’s your crash course in online press releases. It’s late notice, but if you want to learn more I’m going to present (Janet Meiners Thaeler) on the online press release at Startup Princess Retreat next week. The event is for women in business and OrangeSoda is one of the sponsors.

Marketing to Women Online Retreate

November 7-8th, 2008 at the Midway, Utah * Zermatt Resort & Spa.

Register here.

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