Dotcomology by Stone Evans, Joseph Costa - HTML preview
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Your press releases will provide publicity that will:
- Increase your sales
- Increase traffic to your website
- Give you and your company recognition and credibility
- Increase your profits for a relatively low cost
- Save you money
Press release distribution is an extremely cost-effective Internet marketing tool. It can build more credibility than any other Internet marketing technique because most readers are more likely to trust independent authorities such as reviewers, columnists, reporters or broadcasters than an over-hyped advertising message. A well-written press release can dramatically expose your company to the masses and greatly enhance the image of your business.
11.1 Writing an effective press release or news article
Although common practice in the corporate world, press releases are an example of an all too often overlooked potential for business growth, exposure, and traffic generation.
Press releases, done correctly, can garner the online business significant, low cost marketing via interest generated in writers and editors across the globe. These interests can develop into stories, features, or even a mere mention that can send traffic counters reeling, and sales through the roof.
Developing an effective press release is an art form. The content must be creative, eye catching, and somehow moving to the reader. Though this sounds much like the creation of a successful marketing campaign, the idea here is to assemble a final release that communicates ideas and features in a manner that makes the copy of interest to the news-hungry.
One of the most important things to be aware of is that writing press releases is all about developing a persuasive message within the framework of a traditional news story format.
Editors will quickly trash media releases that make outlandish promotional promises -- "the best ever", "everyone wins", "one-of-a-kind", "changing humankind forever". Instead, you must think like a reporter. Media releases must follow journalistic style in order to be given any kind of consideration. How do you accomplish this task?
Contrary to what most people think, a journalist actually spends the bulk of his or her time collating facts. When everything is ready, it is not uncommon for journalists to write the story in just half an hour.
How should we go about collating all the information and facts surrounding a particular event? A simple rule of thumb is to find answers to questions pertaining to the who, what, when, where, why or “5 Ws” of the event. And we do not stop at just the absolute facts and figures. These must be presented in the right perspective relative to some industry norms, trends and statistics. You may have to undertake some research by going through past industry and newspaper reports.
Identify Your Story's Angle
Now that you have collated all the relevant facts and figures, the next step is to identify the "angle" or headline of your story. A good story angle must have the following three attributes:
- It must be the most important fact in your story.
- It must be timely.
- It must be unique, newsworthy or contrary to industry norms and trends.
This story angle must be presented in the first paragraph as well as the headline of your press release. Most newspapers employ an "inverted pyramid" format that presents the most important information in the opening paragraph, follows by other information that support or develop the key points raised in the first paragraph.
By all means, keep your headline short and simple using less than ten words. It should convey the key point raised in your opening paragraph in a light-hearted manner that catches people's attention and imagination.
Write in Third-Person Voice
Unlike an email newsletter written in a personal voice, a press release must be presented objectively in a third person point of view.
The reason is obvious. Every journalist has a duty to provide his readers with impartial facts and figures. He must not be seen as endorsing a company's products or services.
Some of the guidelines are listed below:
- Refrain from using any sales pitch in your press release.
- Remove "you", "I", "we" and "us" and replace them with "he" and "they".
- Provide references to any statistics, facts and figures raised in the press release.
- Refrain from expressing personal opinions, unless they are done in quotes.
- Draw conclusion from facts and statistics only - not general opinion.
- Provide "quotes" from the newsmakers.
As a newsmaker, put your most important message down into a quote. Reporters always use quotes from the newsmakers to add an authority voice to their reports. If your press release contains quotes that are important and relevant to the story, chances are high that they will be replicated in full in the published article.
You should end your press release with an appendix that provides brief background information on your company, newsmakers as well as who to contact for further information.
Do you understand your consumers well? As marketers, it is important for you to recognize the profile and buying behavior of your consumers. Information such as their age groups, interests and preferred media would come in handy when you want to reach out to them effectively.
The key to an effective communication, whether verbal or written, lies in presenting your messages to interested readers. Whenever possible, you should only send your press releases to those media whose readers' profile matches that of your target consumers.
Relate Message to Readers
What you want to say about your product or service may not be the same as what your readers want to know. You and your readers may look at the same event from totally different perspectives.
To kindle your reader’s interest, you must present your intended message from their perspective. If you’ve done a good job understanding your readers, you should have no problem empathizing with their view and interest.
Remember that practice makes perfect and the best way to learn how to write an effective press release is to observe how business news is reported in the business section of your local newspaper.
Local and/or small media are most likely to be interested in your story and it's the perfect way to hone your release-writing skills. Try local newspapers, trade journals, industry-specific magazines, websites, radio shows, and television shows. Don't send your release to just anyone, or you could be accused of spamming.
Always remember to get specific contact information for your press release. A release address to a particular person will receive a lot more attention than a general release sent to the media outlet.
You must send your press release to the right persons in order to increase the chance of having your story published. Look through the chosen newspapers and identify those reporters who cover events or activities that share the same theme as your products or services. You can identify the reporters by the article’s byline.
Familiarize yourself with the editor or reporter's work. Find out the method she prefers to receive press releases. Don't automatically send them by email...some will prefer mail or fax. Find out their deadlines.
If you are sending your release by email, never send an attachment. Copy and paste your release into the body of the email. Never send a bulk email and always address emails individually.
For your local media, check the publication or their website for information on how to submit a release. Do a search on popular search engines for websites in your industry that might just be interested in running your story.
Submit your site to a few online newswires and news websites. There are a number of sites that require payment. However, there are a few good free websites as well. A couple of these include PRWeb.com and Free-Press-Release.com.
If your budget permits, you may contact a good press release agency. Such agencies distribute your press release to various industry-specific websites and publications for a fee. However, care should be taken while selecting a PR agency. Some of these may just spam instead of targeting your press releases correctly.
11.3 When should you distribute press releases?
Press releases should be distributed every time something newsworthy happens with your website or products. The key here is newsworthy. A press release may easily be considered spam if the reader feels that the content of the press release is not interesting.
Here’s a list of events when a press release can be distributed:
- The launch of your website
- When you add new services & products
- When you arrange events like public speaking engagements, open houses, seminars, fairs and so on
- If your company creates new partnerships
- When you run contests on your website
- If you are arranging fundraisers and donations
- If your company or product gets a major award or accomplishment
Press releases can be an effective tool for marketing your products online or off. As discussed, you can hire professionals to create a valuable press release for your company. This will add to your costs, but it’s usually worth it.
In the next chapter, we’ll discuss a very interesting form of promotion known as viral marketing. Viral marketing is one of the least expensive forms of marketing, but it is actually one of the most effective ways to promote your business of all. In fact, viral marketing is primarily responsible for the success that the Plug-In Profit Site service has enjoyed throughout the years.