Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Press releases, blogs, squidoo, and social bookmarking

What I know about: (some notes on)

Press Releases -

Reporters go to the web like the rest of us to get their data.

Used to be you'd hire PR specialists to smooze the local reporters and get them to write stories about your topic.

Now you are sending your press releases to the public directly - via the Internet.

Reporters don't actually want to get your press release, as they have their own work-flow, their own editorial assignments, their own idiosyncrasies and wants.

So, if you send a press release, you are actually sending another article out, or blog post - but in a more specialized format .

The old rules were to get it all on one page, double-spaced. And I've found a tool, "PR-O-Matic" which does just that (except you can type as long as you want). But it does the formatting and puts in line breaks so you can then cut and paste into your word processor and you're done.

However, an electronic press release doesn't stop there. You now need to take the further steps to put in all the links you can in both the body and the resource section. This is the web, after all...

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

There are still some rules about Press Release format, just like writing articles, only better.

First, Killer headline. Just like any good sales page, you have to get their attention. AIDA (Attract, Interest, Desire, Action) is in full force - again, like any good sales page or any writing, actually.

Killer Headline. Use your keywords in this - the key keywords which you are pitching about your product.

First paragraph has to have a "nut" paragraph, which covers the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of your piece. It's a concise elevator pitch that fits in one neatly trimmed paragraph. Now, if you can fit it into a single sentence, fine, otherwise, just keep this paragraph short. Reason being is that if it does get picked up by the press (and this is your real reason, remember) they have all the data right off and can see if you have a story they are looking for.

After that, it is simply exploring your concept with traditional copywriting skills. Tell a story, leave them hanging, colorful and descriptive language, etc.

A press release also has a quote or two in the body of the text, by either the subject of the piece, or a testamonial by someone else who has used the product.

Now, since you are using the Internet, you aren't limited to a single page and so can get a bit longer in your descriptions. But try to keep it down to two pages - about 500 - 1000 words, much like an article.

Include all the keywords you need to in order to describe your product. Link to your product page, your blog, your squeeze page and everything that is relevant. You are creating out-bound links back to your site.

Proof this, edit it, and probably even print it out, then read it out loud to make sure it makes sense. While it's going to the public, and will show up in search engines, it still is supposed to grab a reporter so he writes some great puff-piece in a huge magazine with both print and online readership in the millions.

Now, what you do to post it is get that list of press release submission points I'd covered earlier and put all these into your browser's bookmarks - in their own folder. While I said to use an article submitter before, this isn't practical, since they don't allow links. Write the press release in something like OpenOffice or on your blog - where the links will get picked up by the copy/paste function (my text editor doesn't support this).

Then open up each link and copy/paste your release - make sure it has everything you need.

After you've gone through the list, go back to the key press release agencies (like PR Web) and, just like your articles, social bookmark the release as it shows up on their site. This creates backlinks to that article and tells people it's there.

Then tomorrow, you'll do it again.

You are then sending out about 5 press releases per week, to about 15 Press Release sites. Yes, this is similar to articles, only more link-friendly and less automated. No, you don't pay to have them submit to their list of clients. Like I said, the reporters don't want them, and will pick t hem up off the web - particularly if you have several different Press Release sites holding the same release. Volume is the key to success here.

When do you write these - probably all at one sitting, since you have to get your wits around the peculiarities of the writing style. So I would imagine you would write them just after you finish writing your articles for the week - get up, take a break, and then find five newsworthy facets of your product to write about.

Now the news is slightly different from regular searches. If you check out Google Trends, you'll see how the news treats things differently. I've long held that the news is only interested in the three C's - Controversy, Chaos, and Cacaphony. But don't expect the papers and TV to get anything right. They are there to get up their subscriptions so that they can continue to sell advertising. That's their bottom line.

Now, what people really follow as stories isn't what is published. People don't really care (for very long at least) for tabloid fascinations. According to Pew, who has researched their news surveys back a few decades, people most keep track of 1) Natural Disasters, 2) Money, and followed closely 3) Human-created disasters.

You can see that they keyword Money is right up there. This is what makes business news so "riveting".

Here's from PRZoom - their acceptance policy:

"PRZOOM - Newswire will not distribute any press release written for the purpose of causing harm or damage to a third party, improperly formatted releases, activism or blog content, press releases posted by distributors of network marketing organizations or press releases that look and read like commercial, link to an online store, a paid membership or contest page or fraudulent (spoof) advertisements."

Old fuddy-duddies - still holding up the old-school tie as a banner...

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Blogs are either a personal expression (where the author doesn't particularly care who reads what he writes), a running commentary (where posts are short and mostly a sentence with a link), or a newsletter format where every post is filled with useful data tailored to a particular audience (and ads are sold).

You either want, earn a following or not. If you do, you can get more in-links and so increase your PR rank. And the RSS feed you have becomes valuable to your regular readers.

Like a newsletter, you'd then put in regular links to products you are offering. Yes, you get commercial, but that is what this is all about, isn't it - making money online while working from home.
Now, being smart, you'd then take that blog and copy it into your autoresponder in order to broadcast out to your list. Two birds with one stone - write once, publish many times.

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Key here is to generate tons of out-bound links from your pages. Squidoo, oddly, is listed under social bookmarking sites. So you can get Squidoo's toolbar into your browser and then link all your pages and articles and blog entries right onto your pages - along with any other relevant data you find.

But reverse to Google, your rank on Squidoo goes up by increasing your outbound links. So when you get your press release and articles posted, go to those sites and bookmark them onto Squidoo in appropriate places. This then created in-bound links to your articles, which makes them higher in Google. Two birds, again.

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Social Bookmarking

I was listening to an MP3 by a "top" web design guru who said he thought search engines were going to become all paid entries on the front page, if not the whole thing. Now I think he's been looking on Yahoo, Ask, and some of these others too much. Google doesn't have that trend, yet...

But the deal is that these companies need to make money, so they figure that traditional advertisers have to feed their addiction somehow and will buy ads through them. (After all, if they don't get click-throughs, it's something wrong with the ad, isn't it?)

In that case, social bookmarking will replace search engines. People will continue to put their bookmarks up on line and will look for sites other people in their list or with related interests have posted. This is niche marketing at it's finest. Of course, you are going to have to have real relationships in your marketing, because people can leave negative comments as well - which basically stay on the web forever.

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Read some more about forums last night. Seems that this is a completely valid way to market your stuff. I'd read of one author who built his list entirely this way - leaving helpful advice and his squeeze page link which people clicked on to find out more about this helpful author.

But you are going to have to schedule your time strictly on this subject and stick to just a few top forums. Like affiliate marketing, you are going to have to test your results as well. If you aren't getting a lot of click-thru's on your forum posts, you are going to evaluate whether you aren't giving welcome advice (not contributing to that forum) or this is a poor forum.

You find relevant forums by typing into Google: "[keyword] forum". Then investigate the top three or four or five to see which will easily accept your posts and also will support leaving links.

I don't personally have time right now to get into this scene. But if you aren't writing articles, it would be a good investment of your time in order to build your list.

The thing is to budget your time and schedule only the most valuable activities during that time. - And then make sure you are leveraging every action you take to result in some useful result (either direct sales or listbuilding for later potential sales).

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