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Need to write a press release? Catch me on this webinar Friday, 9/19!

If you’ve ever struggled to write a press release–or wanted to write one but didn’t know where to start–this webinar’s for you!

Tune in Friday, Sept. 19 for this free webinar hosted by Teresa Cleveland of The Entrepreneur’s Toolbox to learn more about writing a press release you can then use to market your company, product or service in a variety of ways.

For more details or to register, visit: http://theentrepreneurstoolbox.com/press-releases/

 

Press Releases – Alive, Well and Working to Do Their Job Of Getting the News Out

“The press release is obsolete,” they said.  “It’s lived its useful life. It’s dead.”

I can’t recall how many times I’ve read about the death of the press release in the past year. Yet, I’ve always believed in press releases to help companies get the word out. And today, I have a client story to support the fact that press releases DO work!!

Here’s the story:

I work with a local entrepreneur who’s developed a patented product in the bedding category. We’ve been working together for a couple of years now, and I’ve watched the progression of the product and the company to where it is today.

We’ve selectively issued a few press releases throughout the course of our working relationship. About two months ago, we issued a release to announce they’d launched an ecommerce site. Up to this point in time, we’ve done mostly local media outreach, with plans to go more national/vertical in the coming months. So, just a few days ago, a leading _national_ publication proactively contacted me after finding the press release to request a sample be sent for consideration to be in an upcoming story. What?!?! Yes, it REALLY happened! And, to go one step further, the reporter contacted me via the press release service we used. And, it was a (gasp!) a FREE press release service!

This proves a few points that I often mention in the talks I give about PR:

1)      Press releases DO work to reach the media. Reporters like press releases because they’re written in a format they’re familiar with. Releases are written in inverted pyramid style, which is the way news stories are written. They contain the pertinent information reporters need to cover a story. In many cases, PR practitioners and reporters both attend journalism school, so this is a medium we both know and understand.

2)      You don’t have to spend money to issue a press release on a wire service. The free services get the word out, too, and get you on search engines to help your SEO (search engine optimization). Undoubtedly, the reporter at the national publication found our press release while doing research for a story she was putting together.

3)      While you should proactively reach out to the media you’re targeting (and yes, you should figure out who you want to target), just issuing the press release does get it out there and allows it to be found, should a reporter be searching.

4)      The above two points underscore the need to work in your keywords, so in the event a reporter is searching, he or she finds your press release.

Given, the product hasn’t yet appeared in the magazine (just imagine the celebration, if that happens!), but this is already a “win” in so many ways:

  • It’s a win for the client, whose product is being seen by a high-level press and may appear in an upcoming issue of a top magazine
  • It’s a win for me, because I worked with the client and wrote the press release
  • It’s a win for PR because look at the power of what it can do, and
  • It’s a win for our friend, the lowly press release, who some have too quickly deemed obsolete.

It’s OK, press release—we know you’re not dead. We believe in you and your power to help us get the news out!

 

Death of The Press Release? Not So Fast…

Every so often, I see yet ANOTHER piece written about the so-called “death” of the press release. Why folks are in such a hurry to kill off press releases I’ll never understand…perhaps they don’t know the value of the press release—they haven’t witnessed the increase in SEO it can bring. They haven’t had the pleasure of landing a new customer because of a press release the customer read announcing their latest product or service. They haven’t enjoyed the attention received from a reporter who saw the press release and contacted them to be featured in a story that ran on the front page.

The press release, also known as a news release, absolutely has a place in today’s marketing world. It’s a perfect vehicle for getting out the information reporters and potential customers need. In fact, I work with editors who actually request press releases from my clients. It’s a format they find useful. Let’s face it, reporters are stretched thinner than ever and need information such as availability dates, features and pricing in an easy-to-use format. Press releases provide that.

I’d argue that the value even goes beyond reaching reporters, customers and prospects. The act of writing a press release helps businesses hone their messages and focus on the elements that are key to the announcement. This helps them in communicating with their audiences, both externally and internally. Many times, the press release will be referred back to for the messages surrounding that particular piece of news. It has a life beyond just the day it’s issued.

While press releases are far from dead, it is safe to say that the purpose of the press release has evolved. It used to be primarily for reporters. Now, one of the biggest benefits is SEO. If you include your key words in a press release and issue it on a wire service, it will help your company, product or service rank higher in search results.

And let’s talk content marketing for a minute. Press releases are also great content for your social media platforms, as you can issue them via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and any others you use. And, it can be a useful sales tool, if you include it in your sales kit. Lastly, don’t forget to put it on your site in your “News” or “Press” area.

No, the press release isn’t dead…it’s alive and well and companies would benefit from crafting one whenever they have something newsworthy to share.

(A version of this was previously published on Ragan’s PR Daily.)

Eight Reasons to Hire a PR Pro

I came across this article today, “Five DIY Public Relations Tips for Startups”:

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5765-diy-pr-for-startups.html

It’s a good article with helpful tips, and yes, of course you can do your own PR—I even give on a talk on it. But, if you find it too cumbersome to do yourself, as many business owners do, consider hiring a pro who freelances to help you out. Here are eight reasons to hire a freelancer:

1)      A freelance PR pro brings expertise to the table that takes many years to amass. PR consultants are steeped in strategies and tactics to get your business out there and get noticed. From press releases to speaking gigs to media relations, a consultant can help you come up with the best strategy to fit your needs and then carry it out.

2)      Once you have them on board, you can ask for advice on any number of things related to your marketing and overall company strategy. Clients often ask me to take a look at a new web site, brochure or logo they’re designing, or for advice on a strategic decision they need to make. If you bring a seasoned pro in to help, they’ll have a depth of experience to draw upon and can be a valuable sounding board for you.

3)      They often are expert writers, as well, and can handle writing projects ranging from customer case studies to web text. For example, to earn my degree with a specialization in PR, I went to journalism school.What did we do there? Write! Don’t feel like writing that newsletter text this month? Need help crafting a speaking proposal? Want to publish a contributed article? Ask your PR consultant to help.

4)      They keep their eyes open for opportunities for you. A good PR freelancer knows where to look for opportunities and notices when something comes across his or her desk that may be a good fit for you.

5)     They think like a reporter. Back to my previous example of attending journalism school, part of that training was reporting for the school newspaper. This means you learn how to interview sources, research stories and put them together to run in the paper. This training has been invaluable in helping me understand how reporters think and what’s newsworthy. Once you’ve been a reporter, you’re in a much better position to understand what makes a good story. 

6)      They get results. Sure, you can do your own PR, but just because you can, does that mean you should? How steep a learning curve will there be before you’re able to get results? A good PR freelancer can hit the ground running to bring some early successes to the effort that can be leveraged into more opportunities.

7)      They provide an outside view of the business and the competition. Although they become, in essence, a member of the team, they aren’t sleeping, eating and drinking the company kool-aid, so they can provide an unbiased perspective on strategy and direction.

8)      They help you get the most bang for your buck: Good freelancers will be more than worth their fee because they find ways to add value to your business beyond their focus on PR. They’ll bring fresh ideas to the table and give you helpful input on all your communications, internal and external.

So, if you’ve tried going it on your own, maybe it’s time to give some thought to hiring a PR pro to bring some sanity to your world—and some attention to your business.

 

Spring is here—is it time to “freshen up” your ideas about PR?

Ah, the flowers are coming up, the weather is getting warmer and all thoughts turn to spring! With spring comes spring cleaning. Maybe it’s time to freshen up your PR initiatives, as well.

What are some fresh ideas you can bring to your public relations planning? Here are some thoughts:

 Have you tried a press release lately?  Yes, press releases are one of the best tools for PR, yet they’re often over-looked. Releases are great, because they’re cost-effective and can be leveraged in a number of different ways. You can issue a release via a paid or free service to create links to your site and get visibility. You can pitch the release directly to reporters who may be interested in covering the news. Your sales team could use the press release in their efforts. You can post the release to your site. You can share the release as in your content marketing efforts via social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. And those are just a few ideas to get you started.

Have you booked a speaking engagement? Speaking is one of the best ways to increase visibility and be seen as the “expert.” Many organizations need speakers for their meetings and conferences. While these are generally unpaid speaking gigs, the benefits you’ll reap in the form of visibility can really help your business, product or service get on the map. You can publicize the speaking engagement before, during and after the fact to get the most visibility from it. Again, using this as content on your social media platforms is a great idea. And those at the event may try to book you for another event or even purchase products or services from you.

Have you considered an award submission? Many industries and publications have awards programs that you can enter, some at no cost. What does this get you? If you win, you can publicize it with a press release and once again, blast it out via all your social media platforms. You can also post the win on your site (some awards come with an icon you can use). Awards create credibility that lasts forever. Think of the Oscars—Tom Hanks will forever be known as “Academy-Award Winner Tom Hanks.”

Have you started using social media? If you have yet to start leveraging this valuable yet free tool to reach out and drive traffic to your site, you should start today. Starting small and focused is OK. Pick one platform—I recommend LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook—to start and develop some ideas to post. Or re-tweet or share others’ content. See my blog post here about social media for small businesses for more ideas.

Those are just a few ideas to get you started on “freshening up” your PR as part of your spring cleaning this year. For more ideas, be sure to follow me on Twitter, @PRisUs, visit my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/GarrettPublicRelations , or watch the site for upcoming blog posts.