Press releases as a marketing avenue for online businesses have gained quite a bit of reputation for importance in web visibility and publicity. But what really do they mean for you? Is it worth the $100-$200 odd investment to send one written page out to a global network? What is the return, and what is the exposure that you could potentially get? To explain the real benefits and show you just why a press release could be your best SEO investment for 2012, let’s start at the very beginning.
How A PR Came To Be & What It Is Today
The very first press release was published in 1906 by Ivy Lee, the founder of modern PR. However, it wasn’t until a few decades when online newswire services began to publish Internet press releases in the 1990s. The first services included BusinessWire Smart News Release and PRNewswire MultiVu Multimedia Release. Now, today is the age of the multimedia press release writing and distribution, where videos and links are embedded inside along with original content writing, and social media sharing is a common means of distribution.
Secrets of Writing & Distribution
Press release writing and distribution are two different things, both with the same purpose: to distribute news-worthy information and gain business exposure for the sponsor. Writing a press release is all about creating quality content that is both readable and interesting. Droning on and on about a new product’s technical features isn’t going to cut it. You need interesting, engaging content with great news-worthy headers that will be a candidate for social media sharing and blogging.
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Distribution of a press release, on the other hand, is an invariably detailed process that many distribution channels don’t like to totally reveal. Our research revealed some crucial key details that not many people probably know. Rather than just emailing a press release (which is how it all started in the 1990s), today’s press release distribution includes very detailed tasks like contacting specific niche journalists via Twitter with software (one service mentions using BudURL). The message contains the written PR. Sometimes a video is sent to market the PR that will also go to a specific niche journalist who in turn publishes it if it’s interesting enough for their marketing. These are brand new distribution channels that are being experimented with as we speak.
Featured on Mashable’s blog, Vistaprint’s PR manager believes the PR will take on three specific formats over the course of the next five years: “The first is in a video format where there will be a short description followed by a link to a video giving information on the news from a company source, hitting on the five W’s and also offering sound-bites that can be used for stories or added to a news story. The second iteration will be a further evolution of the social press release that is being used today, except more brief and more focused. The final is similar to what we see now with company boiler plates, stock quotes and additional information.”
The CEO of the Hoffman Agency, a big name in PR, actually made a statement that the backlinks produced by a quality written and submitted press release are a good enough reason to spend the few hundreds to write and release it. The backlinks generated by the syndication of a press release, he notes on the Mashable blog, offer decent ROI for the business owner’s website.
Still Not Sold? Three Big Reasons To Buy Into The PR Phase
Reason #1: Integration with huge marketing popularity. Press releases are the marketing means of the present (and future) because they offer key integrations with today’s most popular advertising method: social media. Press release content is the type of content that will get blogged about, tweeted on, posted to Facebook, etc. The headline can reappear anywhere simply because it’s newsworthy. An article, blog, or a simple website page cannot offer these share-friendly features.
Reason #2: Businesses have a pivotal opportunity to get credible connections. With a press release that announces something that grabs attention about your company, sent to thousands of credible sources that are populated with people every day, this form of online marketing is absolutely crucial for businesses who want to get exposure online. There really is no better way to tell “everyone” about a new product or a new location. Even if you don’t have a new product or you aren’t opening a new branch, just getting the word out about a particular advantage that you offer unlike any other is a simple way to get great press release content. Businesses who aren’t using a press release (both press release writing and distribution services) are missing out on a wonderful opportunity for new clients, exposure that really counts, and better ranking.
Reason #3: It’s a distributable, marketable landing page. The purpose of a press release is all about you—the person who wrote it or the company who commissioned the press release writing and distribution service. A great press release will get this across in a way that doesn’t scream, Buy now! Or click here. However, the press release is all the same a landing page that is easy to distribute (it’s news) and easy to market (it has a reason everyone should know about you). Blogs, articles, you-name-it: they cannot offer this kind of content-focused advantage.
There are limitations the press release writing and distribution channel is restricted to, like all other forms of evolving technology. A few of these include finding the right audience (i.e. getting more niche-specific for targeted exposure that offers better return), more social media interaction rather than just broadcast, better measurement data, and more software and social media platforms to make distribution easier. These are predicted to get more refined in the next few years to greatly increase the power of a single press release.