Creating high-quality press releases is a great way to get the ball rolling on your marketing machine. When distributed by online networks, your press releases offer online and offline benefits in three key areas we’ll explore now.
This is for anyone just starting out with a new concept or business that needs to get things going solo. As well as understanding why press releases are a great place to start, you’ll also find out why understanding your audience helps to translate your hard work into tangible results.
When you first start, there will be few mentions of your brand name or your services. In most cases, searches for your brand or terms relating to your brand will bring up completely unrelated results. When people search for your business, let’s say the ‘Random Shoe Company’, you want them to find as many results related to your business and its products as possible.
Using a press release distribution service will get results mentioning brand names and key terms specifically mentioning your business into the search results. Every press releases you write will create positive mentions of your organisation in search engines; mentions you control.
Press release distribution will also help you start building relationships with journalists, possibly getting your business mentioned in print. As you publish more and more relevant releases and their quality naturally increases, you will start to get onto their radar.
Search Engine Optimisation Benefits of Press Releases
Getting more mentions in the search engines for your brand name with relevant content provides a huge upfront benefit for search engine optimisation (SEO) as well as brand awareness with searchers. The main SEO benefits come from keyword association, building the first few links to your website and building visitor numbers as a result.
Considering SEO, it’s important to remember that not all distribution services are equal and you often get what you pay for. The service you choose will host a copy of your press release as well as distributing it to other organisations looking for new content.
The higher quality the press release distribution service is, the better your content will perform and any links you build through them will be more valuable. One copy of your release will always be hosted on their website, so the more highly regarded their website is by Google, for example, the better for your press release.
Search Engine Results
When writing your press releases, the topics you mention will become associated with your brand. There are many theories about the placement of key words, using keywords as anchor text and many more.
Let’s go back to the Random Shoe Company as our example. If you were to write a press release about your latest ‘velcro non-lace trainers’ that have just come to market, your brand name could be associated with any of those keywords you mentioned.
In your press release, you may have mentioned alongside your brand name ‘Random Shoe Company’:
Slip on trainers
This will start to associate your brand with searches for these terms. Make sure they’re also mentioned on your website. Creating a link back to your website with ‘slip on trainers’ as the text of the link (known ans anchor text) could help your website to rank for that keyword phrase. About anchor text and ranking for a keyword.
Your press releases may also appear for keywords you you didn’t intend to promote as a profile is built by the search engines for what your brand represents. Be sure to remain on-topic and not stray from the topic at hand.
Still important to SEO is link building and being mentioned on high authority websites. Generally, a link from a .gov website will be more valuable than one from a .biz website.
I’ve published many press releases distributed to thousands of outlets, many of which syndicated the content. Because of the quality of the writing, and its highly targeted subject matter, one particular release was picked up by a local development agency. The Birmingham Enterprise Zone published the release I wrote on their website; complete with a link back to the website I was working on.
Anything you write and publish on press release news distribution websites can be picked up by interested parties including journalists, leading to features and possibly links back to your website from trusted sources. This provides both a PR and SEO benefit.
Duplicating Press Releases
Duplicating press releases can cause you SEO migraines further down the line. But wait, if you want your releases to be picked up and syndicated, aren’t those syndicated versions all copies? Yes, in effect they are copies, but search engines will be ale to tell the syndicated versions are from an original press release.
One thing that can throw a spanner in the works is submitting exactly the same press release to more than one press release distribution service. Duplicate a press release with the same words and links to more than one distribution service is not a good idea because it introduces confusion as to which press release is the original.
Realistically, press releases that have been syndicated are already creating duplicate content. However, search engines have come to understand that there are news sources and news distributors. Search engines can understand which version is the original and authoritative as it comes from a source of news and the syndicated versions.
What definitely isn’t good is having two news sources claiming to be the original, authoritative source for the same release linking to your website. For the same reason, you also don’t want to duplicate the same press release you sent for syndication on your own website.
If you do want to duplicate a syndicated press release on your own website, there are things you can do to protect your website’s SEO, but there are pros and cons and this isn’t the place for a technical explanation.
As a rule, I would advise against adding press-release style content to your own website, as press releases should be written in a way that appeals to journalists and websites that syndicate news.
The same ideas and stories can be explored on your website, but should always be original content and tailored to your audience.
Take a look here if you’d like to learn more about duplicate content and how to deal with it.
Improving Your Message
The best way to improve your reads and pickups is to improve your message. Better headlines and introductions are the most important parts of your press releases. If the first few sentences don’t hook your readers, they won’t finish reading and they definitely won’t share your press release.
Press releases distributed on news networks are a great way to refine your writing style whilst getting your company valuable exposure. It’s vital your press releases are written to a high standard. The ability for you to measure the success of your press releases lets you see the improvement in your writing.
As you improve or get into the position where you can hire someone to write your press releases for you, the benefits of issuing press releases will multiply and better opportunities to pitch journalists directly will open up.
The most important task as you write press releases is to begin making contacts in local media. As you earn more reads, that indicates your titles and introductions are improving. As your name increases in reputation, you will naturally get more reads.
When the number of shares steadily increases, you can see journalists value your news highly enough to share it with their audience. At this stage, you know that if you write direct pitches to journalists, they will have more chance of being successful.
Understanding Your Audience
The best way to improve your message is by understanding your target audience. In the early days, you may need to approach several journalists with each piece. This is because your pitches are still to generic. If you do approach more than one journalist with a pitch, be sure to make it clear to them you have approached more than one person.
As time goes by, you will make connections and learn exactly the type of story you should pitch to whom. The goal is to build exclusive relationships with content tailored to each journalist individually.
Initially, you need to observe the kind of stories each reporter produces. If they publish content exclusively about flowers and you’re a florist, that’s a great fit. If you specialise in tulips and one reporter covers stories specifically about tulips and another reporter writes only about chrysanthemums, then you need to pitch your Tulip story to the former.
You will probably already be attending trade events as a visitor, even if not as an exhibitor. These industry events can be a great place to socialise with industry specific journalists, increasing the chance of your pitches being successful. They’re also great places to get in contact with people who write for and edit journals and magazines your target audience will be reading.
As you progress and build more relationships, you will also get better at pitching. You’ll be able to provide great pitches and corresponding case studies that can be used as features in trade publications. Or news updates about your expansion into new territories which has the potential to create new jobs.
If you can create an amazing story, then a killer pitch to get that story in front of a relevant and important industry journalist, you’ll have the eyes of your customers on you.
Measuring Press Release Distribution Outcomes
A great benefit of using press release distribution websites is that they give you statistics on the number of reads and pickups by news distributors. A pickup is when another news distributor on the network uses your press release (mentioned above when we looked at duplicating press releases). You’ll also be able to see exactly how many people have read your release.
As with any other marketing activity, it’s important to track your progress and attach outcomes to your activity. The number of links built should be one of them. The number of pickups should be another as it’s an indication of the quality of your writing and its relevance.
Pitching stories directly and exclusively to journalists you know will be interested in the story is the best way to get into local and industry specific publications and will lead to features.
Local news outlets are always looking for new stories, hence why several now also report on stories with a more national slant, or about the latest pop culture news.
Your local reporters may also prove to be more easy to network with as you can meet them in person and build relationships offline. Niché industry publications specifically targeted to your audience will also be on the lookout for stories to fill their pages.
You now know why press release news distribution services are a great way to help build brand awareness in the early days. It will take a few press releases to get things going, but if you monitor your results and continually improve your writing, you’ll see tangible results.
Publishing press releases for distribution on news networks shouldn’t be your only tactic, but it is a very useful tool in your arsenal to get the ball rolling. Below are two generic press release distribution services to get you started.
As you would do for trade journals, it would be a great idea to look for more specialised distribution services. I’ve never used them before, but B3C Newswire, for example, specialises “in the distribution of press releases to the biotech and pharma trade media.”
Press releases usually come at a cost depending on how much distribution you’d like. There are countless free options available, but each option will deliver differing results. Before you choose your press release distribution service, evaluate on quality as well as cost.
Let me know who you like to use and why in the comments.