My (Not So) Secret Formula That Works. Every. Time.
I will change your thinking about online promotion.
Let’s put it in the context of this short story:
An everyday kinda guy, Kevin Short, decides to run for City Council. It’s almost the last minute, just days away from the filing deadline. His name isn’t well known, and he’d be running against one other candidate who is fairly well known around her political party. But Kevin’s been meeting with local businessmen and with leaders in his kids’ school district – and they feel he’s got a chance. Partially because of Kevin’s stand on the controversial topic of Campaign Contribution Limits. But especially because Kevin’s campaign manager, Mark, spent his early career at the news desks of both the city newspaper and the local TV station. Mark understands the tremendous power of the press. Mark’s magic bullet? A well-crafted Press Release! Armed and ready, Mark encourages Kevin to file and get the campaign underway.
The Powered-Up Press Release – My Secret Formula
You may be surprised to learn that my #1 magic bullet is also a Press Release! And it’s a gem because it organically delivers YOUR message verbatim to Google’s search results – quickly. Just like Kevin Short starting with virtually no name awareness, you too can quickly establish a significant presence with your message.
The ‘magic’ happens when you use my secret formula:
- Create an eye-catching headline
- Offer tremendous value within your press release
- Use the inverted pyramid format
- Use well-researched, well-chosen keywords, placed carefully for SEO
- Send your press release to the correct spots
In this post, I cover everything you need to know, step by step. We will cover these areas:
- How a Press Release Boosts Your Google Ranking
- Done-For-You (DFY) Research on Best Press Release Sites
- Sample Press Release
- Answers to Common PR Questions
In the first section, I give you the cream of the crop – a short list of the best online Press Release sites for your small businesses to get near-immediate attention.
How a Press Release Boosts Your Google Ranking
First of all, when it comes to the search engine optimization tactics, your website is going to be your number one promotion tactic.
The press release may seem more like something from the past, but it is actually one of the best ways for you to increase your search engine rankings. When you get a press release published, you will be able to bring attention to your website. Now, you just need to know how this works.
The main thing to realize is that when you do a press release you will need to link it back to your website. When you turn the press release in to different outlets then your link back to your website reaches many people.
Also, when you submit a link in with your press release your search engine rankings increase as well. Now there are some steps that you should follow to create a great press release in order to boost your search engine rankings.
Create an eye-catching headline.
Creating a headline that grabs people’s attention is an extremely important part of your press release. If your title is not ‘grabbing’, then nobody is going to want to read it or even hear about it. Also if you have a great headline you will be much more likely to get better search engine rankings too.
Offer tremendous value within your press release.
People are not going to read about your press release if it only has to do with your company. You will need to give a lot of awesome information in the press release as well. Consider making an outstanding free offer. Your message will be as powerful as your offer. Things go viral when content is SO good that people want to share.
Use the inverted pyramid format.
You should give the information that is MOST valuable right away. If you do this then you will grab the attention of the reader and keep their attention through the rest of the press release.
Use well-researched, well-chosen keywords, placed carefully for SEO
We won’t go into any detail on either keyword research or Good on-page SEO. Both are an important part of this strategy, but each could be covered in a book of its own. I offer a simple, at-a-glance SEO Guide. You will find lots of additional information by searching for it.
Send your press release to the correct spots.
There are many promotional sites out there where you can submit your press release. In this post, we discuss three great spots where you should make sure to turn in your press release. No matter what else you do, be sure to use these three sites because they are:
- High page rank
- Allow one or more links in the body! This packs a punch online. Decide on your links carefully to optimize traffic.
Note – there are also many other great news sites where you can submit your website as well. You will want to reach out to each one individually. Doing so will give you the best chances of acceptance.
Done-For-You (DFY) Research on Best Press Release Sites
I’ve spent many hours of research drilling down on these sites. And after using these press release services myself, I can honestly tell you that these are solid, reputable services. I have had good experience using them, and with good results.
After researching the most common press release sites, it is my opinion that the vast majority of online press release sites are not as professional as we might wish, and most should be avoided so as not to embarrass your company.
The TOP 3 Press Release sites I use for quick Google rankings are – in no certain order:
Top Press Release Sites – Detail:
The best press release sites I discuss below offer your choice of free and paid. The free options are solid services that meet the basic needs of most small businesses. I find these sites especially attractive because:
- They are relatively high Page Rank (PR). According to Google, “PageRank is what Google uses to determine the importance of a web page. It’s one of many factors used to determine which pages appear in search results.”
- They are “Do-Follow”, meaning a backlink from this domain (when they post it on their site) gives you “link juice” – or, ‘extra credit’ from Google and other search engines.
Getting all this in one press release service is a feat accomplished only after doing the extensive research which led me to these sites. So enjoy!
www.newswire.com (PR 6) Syndication service
Through a single page submission form you are able to input all of your press release information. Their editorial process is fast and you will receive notification within a few hours. If you are looking for additional distribution, you can try out the media outreach feature.
Newswire Free and Paid Account Comparison – starter packages
Get your press release published on 7000+ News and Media Outlets.
Your story is syndicated to a wide range of business, financial and news outlets to increase your presence online and in search.
In the body of the press release, you may insert 3 links maximum. This is a real boon, because most other free press release sites only allow links in the body if you use their paid version.
If you have any questions you can contact them via phone (800-713-7278) or their helpdesk service.
Briefingwire.com (PR4) http://www.briefingwire.com/ Online Press Release service
BriefingWire.com is a simple, effective and FREE service. Your press releases will show up in search if you use specific keywords in the title, subtitle, and repeatedly in the body of the press release.
Free Press Release Features:
- Immediate Publication: Your press will be live the moment you submit it.
- Dedicated URL: Your press release gets a dedicated URL
- (e.g. http://www.briefingwire.com/pr/your-pr).
- 1 Backlink: You are allowed one backlink in the Author Details box of your press release.
- Distribution: They distribute your press release to all major Search Engines and RSS Feed Aggregators.
Breifingwire.com Free and Paid Membership comparison – two options only
How long does it take to publish a press release?
Publication is immediate. Your press release is live the moment you press the submit button. You do have the option of editing or deleting a press release after you publish it.
Where does the press release go?
Your press release is distributed globally to many major information hubs including Google, Yahoo and Bing. There are many other distribution sites as well but those are the most prominent. The goal is to make it easier for people to find your press release… to make you searchable.
You can also:
- Edit Your Press Release After You’ve Submitted and Published It
- Remove or Delete a Press Release
www.OnlinePRNews.com (PR 4) Online Press Release service
Online PR News offers affordable multimedia press releases that achieve high search engine visibility — putting your message in front of the right people at exactly the right time. They’ve combined all of the features that internet marketers, business owners, and journalists have asked for in an online press release distribution site.
OnlinePRNews.com Free and Paid Options Comparison – starter packages
If your free release does not show up as approved after 24 hours, review their press release submission guidelines.
With the FREE option, you may include a maximum of 2 links in the body.
Press Releases Published on ‘Online PR News’ Must:
- Have a legitimate news angle (announcing something new and/or timely)
- Contain proper attribution
- Be news from the company actually submitting the news
- Have an objective tone — not be written in casual first person language (I, we, you, etc)
- Not contain overt sales language (Are YOU looking for ways to make money online??” “Buy now!!!”)
- Not be from a site that offers adult products and services, escort services, illegal products and services, scams and pyramid schemes, or iPhone unlocking products
- Not advertise products that promote the use of any Google product including YouTube, Blogger, or Orkut
- Not be a duplicate of a previously submitted press release
- Not contain excessive links
- Contain a valid email and phone number
- Be at least 250 words
Customer service – Contact them by email via contact form or 888-451-4213
** SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE**
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (DATE)
Organization (Agency or Company)
HEADLINE (ONE LINE ONLY)
Subhead: More Detail As Needed, One Line Only
City, State: Your announcement starts here, and should lead with a strong first paragraph that clarifies what you are announcing, where, and its relevance to your industry. Don’t bury the lede: doing so makes it harder on reporters to find the information they need most, so get right to it in the first paragraph.
The second paragraph is the best spot for quotes, but choose your quotes carefully. No reporter likes reading from a sea of people saying the same boring thing. Leverage quotes to build the importance of your story but also to shape your core messages. Whenever and wherever possible, include quotes from customers or partners who will benefit from the news, and avoid extreme exaggeration: having your CEO say that your product is the next best thing to a rocket ship is typically a very bad idea unless you are Elon Musk.
In the third paragraph it is often tempting to add fluff that doesn’t need to be there. It’s also often extremely tempting to bleed over to a second page by bolstering the third paragraph with company history, lore, and supporting expert opinions. Keep in mind that the goal of the release is to provide clear, concise context on the story–you can always including more detail or links to additional testimonials in your pitch emails or on your blog. Some additional words of wisdom:
- Nobody likes long blocks of content, so use bullets to your advantage to break up the text
- Use language people can actually understand: if you had to use thesaurus.com to find it, delete it
- During your final edit, be honest with yourself on whether or not you are truly focused on what is newsworthy about this announcement. If not, revise accordingly.
About Your Company: This is a placeholder for a short, 3-4 sentence description of your company along with a link to your homepage. Double check to ensure the first sentence accurately and clearly describes your business in a manner that could easily be lifted and translated by a reporter.
Press Release Components Explained
Your competition likely knows how to rise to the top of the press release world. Here’s a great guide to getting the attention of the search engines and your target customer who is searching online. According to PRWeb.com, if you follow these tips you’ll have a professional, concise and powerful news release.
PRWeb.com’s sample press release 1
Press Release Headline
Get your readers’ attention here. Provide information but don’t use more than 60 characters. Most importantly, use your best keywords in the headline. Write your headline and summary last to be sure you include the most important keywords and information captured from the release.
Your job in the summary of the press release is to entice your reader to want to know more. Give a synopsis of the contents and a brief description of your business and the information you’re sharing. Use keywords! Make sure you announce your company’s name within the headline, summary or first few paragraphs so you immediately link the information with your organization.
Dateline & Lead Paragraph
FORMAT: City, State & Day, Month, Year PLUS the most important information you want to announce. Grab your reader’s attention here by simply stating the news you have to announce. Ideally, keep it down to 25 words or less. Best practices are to keep the lead paragraph compelling and simple, and remember to use a keyword.
The lead and first paragraph of a press release announces what you have to say, providing answers to as many of the critical “who, what, when, where, why (your reader should care) and how” questions that are relevant to your story.
Now’s your chance to tell your story. And, like any news story, the purpose is to provide your reader with information. Remember to keep your tone neutral and objective—like a newscaster, NOT an advertisement. In 300-800 words, elaborate on who, what, when, where, why and how (include keywords!) The media typically lifts this information if they pick up or reference your press release.
Add details to your story that support your claim, add interest, or reinforce what you are trying to say. These can include quotes from key staff, customers or subject matter experts, statistics, charts, etc.
In the press release world, this is typically your “About the Company” sentence. Be sure to use hyperlinks to your website.
Contact information provides the media and everyone else interested in what you have to say a way to reach you. It should include your company name, telephone number, website, and an email address.
When you’ve finished writing, proofread for typos and do a final check to make sure it’s clear, timely and free of advertising hype, direct marketing and spam. Do this a few times and it becomes second nature.
For these pointers, we thank PRWeb.com, an online news release distribution service.
Answers to Common PR Questions:
1) I heard some people use ‘embargoed’ releases. Should we do that?
If you’re not sure what an embargo is, Steve Kovach of Business Insider explains it here, but an embargo is essentially an agreement between your company and reporter that you will grant the reporter a sneak peek at a product or announcement in advance of the actual release. In exchange, he or she will agree to hold the story until the scheduled date and time of the release itself. Typically, embargoed releases and announcements are reserved for significant product launches or announcements (think: Apple launch). In general, if you are just getting started building your presence in the press and are still building relationships with reporters, avoid embargoed material altogether and just focus on timing the release, blogs, and associated promotional content in one big swoop.
2) What if I don’t have a huge budget to create visual content?
That’s okay – not all unique press outreach requires significantly design dollars. One of HubSpot’s most popular press releases was a series of Tweets announcing their one forty acquisition: no design expertise required, just a bit of thinking outside the box. If you’re interested in experimenting with visual content but don’t have access to design resources, consider starting with SlideShare, which allows you to leverage Power Point slides in an easy and shareable manner, to tell your story.
3) My blog doesn’t quite have the reach I want yet, do I still have to create a blog entry in addition to a release?
Yes–even if only your relatives see it for now, it will help you with search traffic moving forward. If you’re concerned your blog won’t magnify your message enough, consider creating a blog post for guest placement for an industry or influencer outlet that might attract the attention of prospects or customers. When doing so, first research whether or not the outlet accepts guest posts and if so, if there are editorial guidelines you should follow in crafting your post. In addition to following the rules of the road for their content, make sure you’re contributing new and different perspective to their site: respect their audience and their angle and assemble and pitch your content to them accordingly.
4) No one picked up my release – now what?
First things first, if you have a broader promotional plan, you should still get some social lift and some good traffic from the assets you created. However, that doesn’t take the sting out of doing so much hard work and not getting the coverage you really wanted. If you’re truly convinced your story is newsworthy, try a few different outlets with a different take on your message and storyline. Comb HARO (Help A Reporter Out), a free resource that helps journalist source stories, for opportunities that might fit your narrative, and set up Twitter alerts (ideally using Social Inbox) to identify relevant conversations in your space. If you’re still striking out, ask a friendly local reporter to take him or her to coffee and ask for honest feedback on what you could do to stand out from the pack the next time around. Do not cajole or coax a journalist or producer willing to do this; if you want their opinion and feedback, accept their insight and incorporate it next time you do a launch or announcement.
5) How do I set reasonable internal expectations around PR within my organization?
This exercise is one of the most challenging endeavors in growing your brand, but it is imperative to learn this lesson early, as it disciplines your team to be respectful of reporters’ time and honest about what truly merits front page news and what doesn’t. Typically, the best way to achieve this goal is by aligning your PR plan to core business objectives and by focusing on long-term enterprise value versus short-term wins on the board. We typically create quarterly calendars with events and milestones built in so people know what we are pitching when, what content we are creating to support each announcement, and where we expect it might run: doing so means there are fewer surprises each time we do a launch.
For this Q&A, we thank HubSpot.com