• 30Jan

    I have been working with more start-ups and smaller businesses who have been trying to harness inbound marketing using press releases as well as other strategies. News releases still carry a lot of weight with search engines for SEO, and they can be useful for blog fodder and to feed social media channels. However, not every press release is newsworthy, although they really should be.

    In the drive to promote search engine visibility, companies, or more specifically the marketing executives within those companies, have forgotten the first rule of press release writing; ask yourself, “Is it news?”

    Recently I have been receiving more requests for non-news news releases, such as having a “cool” product or adding a new social video to your website. While these types of events may have great import to your company, you have to ask yourself if anyone outside the organization will find the news of interest. If not, it ain’t news.

    Inbound marketing is driven by good content, which means good storytelling. There are any number of formats you can use to tell a good story: a case study, blog post, opinion piece, “how to” article, etc. And while all press releases should tell a good story, not all stories make worthy press releases. Here are just some of the criteria that journalists use to determine news value:

    1. Timeliness – It it’s now, it’s news. Events that are interesting and happening now are newsworthy. When you release a new product, for example, it’s newsworthy the day you release the product, not two months later.

    2. Something new – A new approach, a new standard, a new product, a new hire, a new headquarters; these are all newsworthy because they are new.

    2. Conflict – Industry conflict or the fact you or your company takes a stand that is the polar opposite of an industry leader could be newsworthy.

    3. David vs. Goliath – I hear a lot of clients say they want a David and Goliath story, where they want to take on the big guys and do something they can’t. In the minds of the media, the David vs. Goliath story usually takes the form of fighting for the underdog. Reporters often see themselves as protectors of the truth, and the voice of the disenfranchised, so David needs to be wronged by Goliath to make the story newsworthy. If you are looking for a B2B David-and-Goliath story, then you need to prove that you did something significant that the big competitors could not.

    4. Statistics – Reporters love statistics, particularly if they highlight a trend or shed light on a hot industry topic. If you have statistics that demonstrate market or thought leadership, or make a case for your market strategy, a news release is a good way to get the word out.

    5. Milestones – For public companies, industry milestones such as mergers, earnings, etc., need to be disclosed to the market, and press releases are a good way to do that. For private companies, sharing insight about new customers, earnings, and business operations make you look like a public company, and often get published.

    6. Something that impacts your world – If the news has an impact on your customers or industry, then it is press release-worthy. For example, a new industry standard, or a company acquisition, or even a webinar with insights about what the future might hold will be of interest to someone out there, and so it’s worth disclosing.

    There are a number of other events that reporters love to cover, but most of them involve scandals, disasters, and bad news that you wouldn’t want to package in a news announcement (although you should be prepared with a crisis communications plan).

    Remember that people don’t share sales pitches, but they do share stories. Make sure your news release has a story worth hearing and worth sharing.


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  • 30Jan


    When I start working with new clients, I inevitably have to talk to them about newswire services. If the company is larger or publicly traded, then the need for using one of the big three wire services – BusinessWire, PR Newswire, or MarketWire – isn’t a problem. They know that the wire helps address issues such as disclosure for publicly traded companies, and they usually have wire distribution built into the PR budget. However, when dealing with PR newbies and smaller start-ups who are worried about conserving their budget, how do you justify the added cost of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for wire distribution for a press release?

    imageI actually went through this exercise for two clients this month. I researched publications in different distribution circuits, performed a cost analysis, and developed a comparison of the big three services. My basic argument to justify the cost: wire distribution gives you access to news outlets you would be hard-pressed to reach through other channels, and the benefits in terms of Web exposure are unparalleled.

    I posed this question to my peers on LinkedIn – “How do you explain to your clients why a newswire is valuable for their press release?” I was gratified that the responses echoed my own thinking:

    • Wire distribution reaches media that probably isn’t in your core media list, such as broadcast, TV, or trade media, oimager niche sites that don’t have the editorial staff to dig out fresh news.
    • Mainstream news media, such as Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN,and ABC, all have wire feeds and that gives your news a big credibility boost.
    • The SEO benefit is huge. Wire releases are picked up by Yahoo Finance, Google News, and other news search engines. Traditionally, news releases also appear higher in search rankings and if you have optimized your press release properly (which basically means you have written a clean press release with all the appropriate keywords in strategic places) it should improve your search rankings.
    • And the newswires should feed your social media program. All the wire news is online and you should be using those links to feed your blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

    Most of my clients are serving niche markets, so I seldom recommend national distribution. You can choose a local circuit for $200 to $400 and get the same benefits of SEO and online exposure, as well as distribution to target vertical trade circuits, which is where I think you get real wire benefits. There is something about seeing a press release distributed via a reputable newswire service that lends credibility to your news announcement. It shows that you are serious about sharing your news with the world and are willing to invest in established news channels to do so.

    For smaller and pro bono clients working with little or no PR budget, I have forgone the paid wire services and used the free newswires, which is really more of a shotgun approach. The free news services give you some help with SEO, but you really get what you pay for and the free services don’t carry the same credibility.

    All that said, there is no substitute for direct press pitching. If you have real news worth sharing then you need to get it in the hands of your target reporters before you hit the wire. For many editors, in the age of the Web by the time news hits the wire it’s old news, so you should be proactive and share with your contacts before your wire release. They will appreciate the heads up.


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  • 22Jul

    Analyzing the Data I have always believed the old saw, “You get what you pay for.” Life experience tells me that free services often don’t have much of a payoff, or to use another old bromide, “There is no free lunch.” However, I have identified an exception that proves the rule – free press release sites. There are a growing number of online locations where you can post news releases at no cost, and they actually do have a huge positive impact on search rankings.

    I recently ran across a blog post at BigNewsBiz.com, one of the free news sites, which, albeit biased had some interesting insights. Phil Davies of BigNews.biz LLC notes that free press releases sites have a real impact on rankings. As he posted to one of my LinkedIn groups:

    “I kept seeing press releases from these free press release sites showing up in page 1 Google search results and page 1 on Google News. In some cases beating out results from major media outlets.”

    Davies cites some specific criteria he uses to determine the value of free web sites, including page rank, Google News tracking, the amount of traffic, and how complex the rules are for acceptance (i.e. releases rejected for various reasons). He then lists his top 15 free press release sites based on their Alexa ratings.

    I actually just completed an exercise for a client that demonstrates the value of free press release sites. This client is a small start-up that just completed a second round of seed funding – rather small by venture capital standards. To save money, we decided to bypass the conventional paid wire service (which can run into thousands of dollars if you’re not careful). Instead, I used a combination of e-mail pitches to targeted media outlets and we got some great results, including a pickup by Dow Jones. I am still waiting to see how the search rankings fall out among the major search engines, but I’m confident that, based on the early results, the free release site strategy is going to pay off.

    All that said, the paid wire services also have real value, depending on your requirements. If you are a publicly traded company and disclosure is a concern, you can’t beat using one of the big three – PR Newswire, BusinessWire, or MarketWire. I have been following another LinkedIn discussion about which is the best wire service, and one of the contributors from China, Jonah Guo, sums up some of the value of the paid services quiet well:

    “It depends what your clients’ need. If they just want some results while you research Google, you can use any wire. You do not even need to pay if you write a search-engine-friendly press releases. However, if your clients want serious PR, the commercial wires can help you. For example, SEOpressreleases.com and other cheap wires cannot feed Factiva, where most researchers find their info, and which archives your press releases for 20 years.”

    Do you have hard and fast rules for using release wire services? What are your PR objectives and how do you use wire services to achieve them? How do you build the paid and free wire services into your best PR practices?


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