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September 24, 2013

The Press Release – A Special Brand of Snake Oil

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Now, before you go and mark me as a marketing heretic and blast me out of the water on Google+, let me first make my point. Press releases are great tools in any Internet marketers bag of tricks but I believe that there is still some confusion that surrounds what they are and what they do. For example, I recently received this email from one of my favorite clients:

Would you recommend doing another press release for (client’s business name here) – I did one when I opened the business… But I’m wondering if I did another – can keep things fresh and another way to help push the negative article (a rip-off report) off the first page (of Google’s SERPs). Don’t click on it, though. It just keeps it up there : ) I’m pretty sure I told you that story a while ago but I just wish it would GO AWAY. I know it should over time but would another press release help?” – One of my clients

It was a great question but also one that demonstrates a common misunderstanding that many still harbor concerning press releases. This is what I wrote back to her.

This is a great question and one that I get frequently. While it’s true that a well written and placed press release can go a long way in getting new clients, visitors, and potentially new business, press releases can be used incorrectly and can end up costing you way more than you’d be willing to spend in just getting it written and published. All it really boils down to is what the intended purpose of the press release really is. The following list represents appropriate reasons to release a press release:

  • New business is opening.
  • Your business is closing.
  • You’ve just hired a new account manager who will refine your processes thus making your services cheaper.
  • You have a new position opening in your business and you need somebody to fill it immediately.
  • Your business was just featured in your local newspaper.
  • Your business is expanding, whether physically in floorspace or in workforce.
  • Your business has surpassed earning estimates for a particular quarter or year.
  • You are offering some sort of special, deal, or discount for a limited time.

A press release is intended to portray something of newsworthy value to your potential client that needs to be seen by as many people in as little amount of time as possible. Because of the very nature of a press release, they are not appropriate to help you establish the authority you need to become relevant in the SERPs. The following list of things a press release is not meant to do:

  • A press release cannot replace a well written blog post in that a blog post comes from you, the business owner, and is therefore more intimate with your intended audience. Your blog posts that are unique to you and your business are much more likely to establish your relevance and authority, not some here today, gone tomorrow press release. A press release is not a blog and should never be treated as one. You have a blog for a reason and should use that when writing about daily musings, thoughts, and general business related activities.
  • A press release is a lousy link-building strategy. Most links that come from press releases are marked with the rel=”nofollow” attribute which tells Google to ignore that particular link when determining your page authority. Never rely on press releases to help your link profile.
  • A press release is temporary and usually covers time sensitive topics. A business’ grand opening is a one time event and therefore great material for a press release. A funny yet informative article about a unique customer service experience is best suited for a blog where it is easily bookmarked and available for future reference for your existing and returning customers. If it is of a personal nature, blog it. If it involves a one-time only or limited event, PR it.
  • A press release will never, ever help to remove your competition from the front page of Google’s SERPs. Get that out of your head right now. Removing a competitor from the SERPs can only be achieved by spending as much money as it takes to out rank them. It’s as simple as that. If you can spend the amount of marketing money it takes to rank in every position in the SERPs, then you can achieve your goal of moving the competition to the second and third page. A press release can never achieve that kind of power.
  • A press release is not a fix all. A press release is simply a tool that is available to a marketing agency to enhance the work that is already being completed.

Press releases are in many instances very expensive to develop, distribute, track, and benefit, monetarily, from. They need to have a specific purpose in mind before they are written and distributed. If the press release reads like a blog, then post it as a blog. A press release needs to be fresh and highly relevant for its specific task. Here are a few references to help you understand what a press release is supposed to do.

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