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Archive for the ‘press releases’ Category

Why your press releases don’t work

Making the news has been a significant part of corporate marketing strategy; even long before the days of the web. The web has made this component of marketing very easy to execute by using sites such as PR Web, PR Newswire, and the like, but most people still don’t get the expected results.

Why is this? You need to ask yourself who is on your media team. For most small companies, the media team consists of the owner drafting an article, doing his or her best to make it not seem like the advertising and self glorification piece that they want it to be. This is often followed by submitting it to PR Web, paying about $120 for a mid range of services, then sitting back and waiting for a miracle that rarely comes. Why is this? I will give you a few reasons:

1. It usually is only newsworthy to the owner. My sister (a long time media professional) actually looked at one my press releases and said “next time, let me give you a hand… that’s just not a press release”. Hey, I have learned to be humble, and it does help to have family or friends in the business. But if you don’t, make sure you have a writer experienced with writing press releases help you. If what you are saying is truly newsworthy, then it is worth the money. Perhaps that should be your benchmark (would I invest marketing money to get this story out?)

2. Closely related to #1, is not having a team in place. If your team consists of you, your computer, and a web site, I have some news that you may not want to hear. You are better of spending that money driving traffic to your web site through pay per click advertising. It will give you a better return because it will be targeted traffic as opposed to another press release lost in the sea of press releases sent out that day.

So who should be on your team?

1. First, you spin doctor. This person needs to be adept in writing press worthy material. In a perfect world they would come complete with their own media contacts.

2. Media Contacts. These should be specific and not general. Specifically, if you are in the car business, you need to be establishing relationships with journalists that cover the automotive industry. How do you find them? Look everywhere. It doesn’t hurt to try and build a relationship with The Wall Street Journal, and you may just get a call or an email back (I certainly have). I would also try and build a relationship with an About.com Guide that serves your industry.

3. Bloggers. It’s 2007 folks and blogging is here to stay. Every blogger is essentially a journalist or a voice to his or her industry, so why not get in touch with them. Unlike journalists, most are not getting paid to blog, so having someone contact them with a story is a feather in their cap.

I hope that helps you get your next PR blitz out profitably. I am also here to help and while I am currently not taking on new assignments, I can possibly refer you to some good folks that can help you.

Why PRWeb might go out of business

PRWeb.com is a great web site and used by many to distribute press releases. The problem with most people doing press releases is that they have a misconception that all you have to do is write a press release, submit it to a press release site (such as PR Web), and sit back and wait for journalists to call them. It has happened, but it is RARE that it happens that way. I will give you several reasons why your press release may not have given you the record sales day that you expected:

1. Wrong Outreach. Most seasoned journalists don’t get their news from online press release sites. That’s not to say that can’t, but you are FAR better off developing media contacts within your industry, or the industry that you are trying to promote your product or service in. Your message will also go much farther when it is received by a key journalist or media contact in an industry, rather than by small time bloggers looking for content. The ultimate is to get major press coverage from the all coveted Wall Street Journal.

2. Mixed Messages. Your press release has to target your market in its copy (clearly) without sending mixed messages.

3. Poorly Written Press Release. Enough said. Few solid editors or journalists will take time to read a poorly written press release; it most likely will get overlooked.

4. Unedited Press Release. Get an Editor. Even if it’s a non professional editor, a second set of eyes can do wonders. You can also ask them if your message is clear or ask them to summarize what they think they just read.

5. Not Compelling Enough. You need to use a compelling headline (title), as that is often all the chance you get to make your point. When writing a press release, what I have done is take time and write out my message and then think of several ways to present it. For example, my message here is “you can’t just write a press release and submit it to a press release web site”. So I came up with the following headlines, which I have rated on a scale of 1-5 by controversy & curiosity factors and also made a notation as to “why someone may or may not care”.

1. PR Does Not Stand For Press Release – 2 (it actually does, right?)

2. Press Releases Don’t Work – 3 (not for most people)

3. Press Releases: What are you missing – 1 (will I really learn something new here?)

4. Never Send Another Press Release Without Reading This – 0 (yawn…)

5. How to Get Journalists to Read Your Press Release – 2 (I don’t believe this, I’ve heard this before)

6. How to Get Massive Web Traffic from Your Press Release – 1 (yeah, right)

7. Does your Press Release Suck? (If no one called you, it did) – 2 (how unprofessional, he used the word “suck”)

8. Why Didn’t Your Press Release Work? – 2 (I don’t care anymore)

9. My Press Release Made ME a Million Dollars Did Yours? – 1 (I am sure you are going to sell me something)

10. How I made $50,00 with ONE Press Release – 2 (I don’t believe you)

11. This could put PRWeb out of Business – 3 (I doubt it… you’re trying to bait me)

12. Why PRWeb Might Go Out Of Business – 4 (well, I am curious.. tell me)

I have numbered them in the event that you want to let me know which one you think my have worked better.

The best part of this is that I actually changed the Title AND the message after doing that exercise. To do good PR, you don’t have to make controversy, but boy it can get you some attention – perhaps the attention you don’t want. In fact, I will let you all know if PRWeb contacts me.

Truly, I don’t think PRWeb will go out of business, because not enough people will take the time to do the work to make their PR campaigns effective. They’ll keep playing the “PR Lottery”, and most won’t have the knowledge… unless you send them this blog post 🙂

I will close with my original title and say that “PR doesn’t stand for press release”, it stands for Public Relations. Relations are about relationships not press releases (that’s worth money if you get it).

Have a safe and Happy 4th, and Happy belated Canada Day to my friends up north.

– OldSchool

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