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How to Attract Traffic to Your Site Using Press Releases
As Publisher and Executive Editor of Web Digest For Marketers, I see teeming hordes of press releases and pitches asking for coverage in my newsletter. Trouble is, 99% of them are useless to my readers and me.
Most PR efforts have no news value. Press release writers need to focus on what the reader wants, not what they want.
I've been on both sides of this equation. While I'm the recipient of too many press releases, I myself have sought press attention over the past 13 years. I've gotten press in scores of media outlets including Business Week, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, DM News, Bloomberg News, CNBC, ABC, CBS, et al. Each time I was covered, my site stats rocketed and subscriptions to my newsletter shot up manyfold for that week. Additionally, I noticed similar spikes in consulting and speaking engagements.
Below, I share my Top 10 Tips for making news that drives traffic to your website. Enjoy, and do pass these tips along to those who you feel would benefit from reading them.
Think Content: If your firm gathers statistics in the course of its operations, that may be interesting to your target audience. Well thought-out position statements that run counter to business as usual are another avenue to explore in the content arena.
Visualize Your Audience: Don't write for a "demographic." Too many press releases seem to be writing for some vague audience. Personify the reader(s). Imagine them reading your press release or a lift from it that a reporter might use. If you can't visualize this, start over.
Optimize Your Press Release for SEO: Everyday, more people get their news from Google News or Yahoo News and the like. When writing your press release, think about the keywords your target audience uses to make up that filter. Don't overuse those keyword phrases, but don't ignore them either.
Try New Circuits: Don't just use the same old press release distribution outlets you've always used. I've recently gotten much better bang for the buck by using outlets that send RSS feeds as part of the service for no extra charge which results in "pickups" from more blogs and other sites syndicating content via RSS.
Be Quotable: Say something that is not part of the daily drone. That PR clutter can be your friend so long as you say something relevant and different that breaks through it.
Get Help: Many press releases are terrible because they're written by company insiders who are just too close to what they're writing about. Having said that, there are many PR agencies that put out run-of-the-mill releases too. Before hiring someone to write a press release for you, look carefully at previous campaigns they've conducted. Did they interest you? No? Keep looking.
Be Tough on Yourself: After your press release is finished, read it as if you never laid eyes upon it. If the headline was a subject header in an email, would you open it or delete it? As you read through the copy, where do you start to lose interest and start thinking about dinner?
Jump Page: I sometimes offer 3 out of 10 tips or trends within my press release and a live link thereafter for readers to jump to my site where they can read the remaining 7 tips. Very effective.
Create News: Much news is manufactured, not only for B2B but B2C as well. Creating an event that you can repeat annually, such as a competition or review of something interesting to your target audience, can generate traffic for your site for many years to come. If you establish a "Hall of Fame" or some other perennial competition, you're likely to also create a clamor for other firms to be heralded in your final results that will be announced in your press release and on your website.
Track Your Results: See what works best by tracking your results for days after your press release has gone out. Any press release service worth their salt should offer you this feature for little or no money extra. Furthermore, you yourself should search for citations of your press release in the major search engines for days after to see how well it has propagated.
Bonus Tip: Edit, Edit, Edit. With the onslaught of so much information coming at all of us, editors and readers alike are less and less patient with puffery and prose that don't get to the point quickly. As Direct Response Guru Mac Ross advises, "Make every word work hard." When you finish your press release, have a very tough-minded editor go over it with a fine-tooth comb.