Abstract: The press release strategies that worked so well for you over the last 3-4 years will be less effective in 2013. These six press release strategies will improve your online visibility and power of persuasion.
2012 was a strange year for the press release. Google Pandas and Penguins ran amok and almost brought the party to an end. A fraudulent press release caused the PRWeb editorial team to panic and overcorrect, making it challenging to write compelling headlines and optimize news for search. 2012 was also the year that we saw the 28-day news cycle effectively lose about 20 days.
So what should your strategy be for 2013? That really depends on your goal. If your goal is media coverage then you will probably change very little. Continue to send press releases through major wire services and cross your fingers. Maybe someone will pay attention and give you that coveted media coverage.
Here are six areas to pay attention to if your goal is to take your message directly to your customer and generate online visibility for your brand. Some of these are simple things you should be able to test on your next press release. Some will take a bit of exercise.
Before we begin, I provide this word of caution. Too much urine in the pool ruins the experience for everyone. Please use these techniques judiciously and respectfully to preserve their effectiveness for everyone.
1 ) Learn the Art of Drafting
David Meerman Scott calls it “News Jacking,” Dean Rotbart calls it “Buzz Snatching,” I call it “Message Drafting” because the principle works across most content formats. Since I am writing this, I win. The idea behind message drafting is to identify a story that has some momentum and write your press release in a way that it drafts behind it and gains visibility.
Be careful with message drafting. This is a skill that requires a deft hand. Use message drafting only where a logical connection can be made. If a logical connection cannot be made or you fail to close the loop, your press release becomes spam and loses any credibility you may have been able to establish. Here is the test: Does your press release deliver on the promise of the headline? Cheating may get you clicks but it will not deliver results.
I have literally worked with over a million press releases in my career. Our most successful press release ever was last year’s announcement of a book, “The Zig Zag Principle.” We were able to successfully tie this book launch to the iPhone 5 announcement. Our press release held a spot in the top three search results for iPhone 5. It only worked because we were able to create a legitimate link between the book and the iPhone announcement. Message Drafting can provide huge traffic.
(Don’t you agree that Message Drafting is a far better descriptor? Maybe not? Leave me a comment below.)
2) Go to Content Marketing School
Your press release is not your endpoint. Your press release is a piece of content that someone spent time creating. Take your time and apply the same proven content marketing techniques to your press release as you would with your other content. Need to hone your content marketing skills in 2013? Try attending a Search Marketing Expo or Content Marketing Strategies.
3) Learn the Language of “We”
You simply need to master the language of “we” if you want your news to have legs. If your news writing style is entirely self-serving you need to pay attention. Make the entire press release about your brand and you are wasting time and money.
Try these approaches instead. Feature a client and their success at the heart of your press release, mentioning your brand only in passing. Or, help us understand a greater problem with a solution that allows us to participate in the solution. To learn more about “me” and “we” cycles, I recommend reading Pendulum by Michael R. Drew and Roy H. Williams. It is an easy-read book that will transform the way you think about writing your news copy.
4) Greedy is Out
This year is the year to pay attention to your linking strategy. When I controlled the editorial policy at PRWeb, we established a rule allowing one link per 100 words of text. I am offering a new link strategy that I have used with my clients very effectively over the last six months. Here is the basic rule. Do not hoard all of your press release links for your own sites. Instead, share links with other non-competing sites that serve to provide background, color and depth. Point about one third of your links to sites not directly associated with or controlled by your brand. If you are feeling really brave, try point one of your links to a competitor and see what happens. You might be surprised.
Sharing links is very much a “we” activity. As a general rule, we no longer encourage links within press releases as a SEO practice (GiantCranberry Blog). This does not mean links have no SEO value. We simply feel that these links are more valuable to our clients when used in context of media coverage.
5) Optimize Your News Image
Improve your odds of having your news image included in the search results by following these simple guidelines.
- Be original. Search engines reward original content. Keep news images fresh and original. Stock photography will make your press release pretty if someone finds it. However, stock photography is seldom picked up and included in search results.
- Keep the aspect ration about 300×300 with a file size of about 50k or less. Most newswires will adjust your news image dimensions but if you start at 300×300 you should be okay.
- Logos will rarely be picked up as they lack color depth. Try product shots or photos of people instead.
- Make sure that your camera is providing EXIF data with geo-location. If you have a way to edit the EXIF data, go ahead and add a description inside the image.
6) Rotate Wire Services
Last year we began to see wire services offer all-you-can eat plans of bulk press release bundles. Reliance on a single wire service for 2013 is not a good plan. You will receive much greater visibility by rotating services. We have created a tiered system for our clients. When the news is really important, we spend the extra money on a top tier wire service like Business Wire. For non-critical or evergreen type news we spread out our press releases through services like PRWeb.
Bonus – A Word About Frequency
How often should you put out a press release? Our general rule is no more than once every two to three weeks. This can be hard when you identify multiple back-to-back draft angles. Pick the best one and keep your powder dry for the next opportunity.
Every year provides us with new and unique challenges in press release marketing. Hopefully these tips will focus your attention on the biggest opportunities for the new year.
About the Author
David McInnis is founder and CEO of the Cranberry Venture Partners (http://giantcranberry.com). Mr. McInnis gained prominence in online content marketing circles when he founded PRWeb. His passion is finding opportunities for media bypass using direct-to-consumer news marketing practices developed over his 20-year online marketing career. Mr. McInnis is the founder of Cranberry.com, a service that matches journalists with businesses to provide guaranteed media coverage. David McInnis is on twitter at @giantcranberry.