Writing and Using an Online Press Release

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What is an Online Press Release?

An online press release is a popular way of informing the media about your business and its offerings. It is also a low cost and highly effective method of getting traffic to specific webpages, since these press releases are published on numerous websites (press release directories, Google News, Yahoo News and more) that then link directly to what it is you are promoting, and many of these websites can send a decent amount of targeted traffic.

Benefits of Online Press Releases…

Each month, millions upon millions of people use Google News and Yahoo News to find the latest information on a wide range of topics that interest them. When they conduct a news search, they often find relevant press releases along with articles from thousands of news sources.

In fact, according to Nielsen / Net Ratings, the unique audiences of Yahoo News and Google News rival the online audiences of other current events and global news destinations such as CNN and BBC News. In fact, Yahoo News and Google News are now some of the most visited websites in the world.

No matter what business you are in, a properly used press release can drive large amounts of traffic to any website and create back links that will last for a long time to come.

Another advantage to sending out news releases is that there is always demand. All news organizations, to include magazine editors, broadcast, and industry specific editors, use press releases to develop the bulk of their published news stories.

From a consumer standpoint, editors who report on your news release are considered disinterested parties, meaning that your announcement was chosen because of public demand for relevant and useful information. Often, paid advertising is suspect in the customer’s eye because companies are more interested in their products selling than what is in the best interest of their customers.

What Should You Write About?

Press releases are very popular and as such, every day thousands of people are submitting them, trying to get noticed. The problem is, a press release really should not be used whenever you just want to send out some general information. Instead, you want to always make them have a newsworthy angle. Do not however, get caught up in the word “newsworthy” – it is not as hard as you may be thinking, and I provide you 40+ different examples of types of press releases you can write, further down in this guide.

Press releases are an effective marketing tool that really should only be used when you have something new to share. The primary purpose of a press release is to inform the world of your news item, so don’t use your press release as a hyped up advertisement to make a sale or it will not be approved by the press release directories.

Increased Search Engine Rankings from Press Releases

Since the majority of websites that publish submitted press releases allow for links to be included, press releases can be very effective for helping to increase search engine rankings for the pages that are linked to.

Question – But I heard that press releases are not effective anymore?

Answer – The people that are saying that are the same people that say SEO is dead and are doing it wrong. Even Google has tried to say that press releases don’t work the same anymore, and while there is some tiny truth to that (I will explain below), what is in fact true is the strategy of using press releases has changed, and that means to get the most out of them, you need to follow a few rules. What does not work anymore is using poor quality press releases that are keyword-stuffed and full of links. Use the below rules and I promise, you will see effective results with your press release submissions.

Rules of Getting SEO Benefit from Press Releases

1.    Make quality content: Not too many years ago, the concept of actually creating worthwhile content was more of a nice idea than a practiced strategy. Using low quality writers to pump out press releases for $5 was a common practice and the end result was press releases that were complete garbage, often with such bad grammar that they were almost impossible to make any sense of. Over the last couple of years, Google has come a long way in being able to identify poor grammar, and from my experience it is now a ranking factor. What that means is, Google is able to run basic grammar checks on the content and if the content has really poor grammar, Google is not going to want to use it.

2.    Do not hyperlink with the same anchor text: The next biggest mistake that many publishers of press releases make is to hyperlink the same keyword every time they publish a new press release. This is called the anchor text and in html, it will look like this: <a href=”http://yourwebpage.com”>Anchor Text Here</a>. It is well known that the anchor text of the link has influence over what the page being linked to can rank for in the search engines, but because so many of us have abused this, Google (and some of the other search engines) has made some changes to this. Primarily, they watch for different press releases that all are using the exact same anchor text and when identified, they simply discount those links. This does not mean if you submit one press release to multiple press release sites you will get penalized, but instead it means if you submit multiple press releases repeatedly, and they all use the identical anchor text that links to the same URL (web page), then you are doing it wrong. I recommend that every time you submit a press release, you change up the anchor text. In fact, I recommend you NEVER (yes in capitals to emphasize) … NEVER just use a keyword phrase as the anchor text. I have found it much more effective to rotate linking just the URL (http://yoursite.com) with linking an entire sentence, and in the sentence making sure the keyword is included. This way, you just need to ensure that each time you submit a new press release, you either are linking just with the URL or a unique sentence in your content that contains the keyword you want the page being linked to, to rank for.

3.    Do not link to the same URL every time: When submitting a press release, another huge error that many make is to link using the same URL each and every time. Using Amazon as an example, you will want to make sure that you are not just linking to your product page every time but instead, include links to other pages on Amazon that then directly link to your product page. Some examples of this are reviews and your seller page (this is the page that shows up when they click the “sold by” link on your product listing). This does not mean that you do not keep promoting your product listing page, but make sure it is not the only page you are linking to, and not with EVERY submission (rotate it up).

4.    Use press releases to promote other promotions: This rule goes in line with the previous rule and to help ensure all your press releases are not using the same URL every time. It is extremely effective to promote your other promotions. If you create a web page, add a new YouTube video, or somebody publishes a blog post about your product… promote it with a press release. You are allowed a few different links to be included in your press release submission, and personally, I recommend that you always make sure that at least one of the links in the content is pointing to a promotion. This can be anything from a video, to a tweet or even another press release.

5.    Submit LOTS of Press Releases: Remember, you are trying to grow a business here and that means that you are going to be required to do a lot of promotions. We recommend that every day you do at least one promotion for your product, and an example of that is at least one press release every day. Do not hope that one or even a couple of press releases are going to get you incredible results. You want to constantly be submitting promotions such as press releases over and over again, preferably each and every day. This is a perfect job to get outsourced and have that person every day write you a new press release and submit it with our press release tool (training for tool provided in a separate training guide and video).

TIP: Use Google Alerts to get notified about content published online about your business and products. This way, if you get alerted to a webpage that is giving your product a positive review, you can promote that page and help it send you more traffic. On the other hand, if the webpage is negative, you can follow up with them to hopefully resolve the issue.

How to Write a Press Release

While a press release is a very popular way to get back links to your site, you need to be careful that you are not just interested in getting links. Focus needs to be given to getting people to actually read your press release and take action to visit your site.

A good press release answers who, what, where, when and why you are providing this information about your organization, product, service or event. If your press release reads like an advertisement, rewrite it.

The best way to start is to choose an angle that will grab the reader’s attention. You really need to think creatively on this. The best methods to follow are…

1.    Human Interest: Everybody loves a hero; they love to hear about success (and failure), so tell them. Relate your story so it somehow creates a strong emotional response from your audience.

2.    Take a Stand: There are thousands of new media stories every day… most go unnoticed, but a few really stick out… so take a stand on an issue and relate your story to it. WARNING: I am not recommending that you intentionally announce a scandalous story.

3.    Focus on the Time of Year: summer, winter, Christmas, July 4th or whatever the occasion, try and find a way to relate to it.

4.    Be a Trend Communicator: There are always new trends coming out. Find out what is growing in popularity and relate to it.

Once you have your “Angle” then you need to start putting words to paper (or screen). The best and most proven method is to follow the A-I-D-A method. A-I-D-A stands for…

Attention: The most important part of any writing. whether it is for news or sales, you need to get the reader’s attention and your press release headline is responsible for this.

You have a matter of seconds to grab their attention. Do not blow it with a weak opening.

Interest: Okay, you have your reader’s attention. now what? You need to get your readers interested in what you are writing about so they keep reading. This is the job of the opening (summary) paragraph of your press release, and this is where you really need to relate to the emotional side of the reader. Do not just repeat the headline, but also relate to the subject. Just do it in a different manner.

Desire: Once you have the reader’s interest, then you need to spark a desire to want to take the last step (Action). You need to be really careful and not make this a sales letter, but you still want your reader to take action and visit your product or website. The only way that this is done is by creating a desire in them to want to find out more about you. This is why an angle is so important. You do not have a lot of words that can be used in a press release and you need to stay very focused on your topic, therefore you need to ensure you…

Use Action Words – Verbs in the active voice bring your press release to life.

• Watch Your Word Count – Use only enough words to tell your story. If you can tell your story with fewer words, do it. Wordiness distracts from your story. Keep it concise. Make each word count.

•    Optimize for Search Engines – Ensure the release contains the keywords you want it to rank for. Do not keyword-stuff, but ensure the content reads well. It is best to just target one primary keyword and have it in the title once, and three or four times in the body.

Action – Okay, you have sparked a desire, so now you need to tell them how to take action to satisfy that desire. Give them your name, email / auto-responder, website, phone number, etc. Give them every option available to get more information… do not just give one option

•    Stick to the Facts – Tell the truth. Avoid fluff, embellishments and exaggerations. If you feel that your press release contains embellishments, perhaps it would be a good idea to rethink it. If your story sounds too good to be true, you are probably hurting your own credibility. Even if it is true, you may want to tone it down a bit.

•    Avoid the hype – The exclamation point (!) is your enemy. There is no better way to destroy your credibility than to include a bunch of hype. If you must use an exclamation point, use one. Never do this!!!!!!!!!!

•    Be Unique – Your press release must be 100% unique (we check against other news sites). General articles or promotional material will not be accepted.

Formatting Your Press Release

•    300 to 600 Words – Keep your press release short and simple. 300 to 600 words are best.

•    Mixed case – NEVER SUBMIT A PRESS RELEASE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS. This is very bad form. Even if your press release makes it past the editors – highly unlikely, but possible – it will definitely be ignored by journalists. Use mixed case.

•    Correct grammar usage – Always follow rules of grammar and style. Errors in grammar and style affect your credibility. Excessive errors will cause your press release to be rejected.

•    Word processor – Write your press release in a word processor instead of composing online. Writing online will not achieve best results. Take time to do it right. Write, print, proof read. Rewrite, edit.

•    No HTML – Never embed HTML or other markup languages in your press release. Your press release will be distributed over a wide array of networks. Including such formatting will negatively impact the readability of your press release.

•    More than one paragraph – It is nearly impossible to tell your story in a few sentences. If you do not have more than a few sentences, chances are you do not have a newsworthy item.

   Headline – The whole writing process starts with the headline. The headline is a single sentence statement that announces what the news is. Companies, organizations or individuals have thousands of opportunities to announce news. A company’s news can be a new product or service, new feature, new website, new office location, new employee, new award. The lead sentence contains the most important information in 25 words or less. Grab your reader’s attention here. And don’t assume that your reader has read your headline or summary paragraph; the lead should stand on its own.

   Body of Press Release – The body of the press release expands on the “who, what, when, where, how and why” of the announcement or news. The details in a press release should be limited to the “facts” about the announcement or news. Opinion, fluff or hype is not appropriate. Statements about how the product or service is the most amazing innovation ever invented should not be included. It is important that readers form this opinion by themselves by reading the details (facts in the press release).

■ Do Not Say “I” – Keep your press release objective throughout. Do not use the words ‘I’ – ‘we’ – or ‘you’ except in direct quotes.

Common Press Release Mistakes

Below you will find some of the most common errors found in Press Releases. These are different than the SEO Rules that I gave above, but are focused on mistakes that stop your submission from being published or picked up by media sites (and even Google News). You do not get a second chance to correct the negative impressions left by a poorly written release.

■ All Upper Case Characters – We already covered this, but it needs repeating: never submit a press release in all upper case characters. The headline and body of your press release should be in proper case.

•    Grammatical Errors – Even the best writers occasionally miss grammatical errors and typos. Please proof read, edit and reproof your press release.

•    Lack of Content – About 10% of all press release submissions are rejected for lack of content. Please make sure that you answer all of the “W” questions (who, what, where, when, why and how) to ensure a complete press release.

•    Press Releases that Scream BUY ME – Do not write your press release like an advertisement. Remember that journalists are NOT your marketing partners. Their job is to relay information to their audience, not to sell. A good press release informs the media. If your press release screams “BUY ME”, then you might want to consider reworking your release.

•    Hype Flags – This is a close cousin to the “BUY ME” problem. If your press release contains too many “hype flags”, it will trip spam filters and intercept your press release before it reaches its destination. A “hype flag” is anything that challenges the credibility of your press release. Examples of “hype flags” include an abundance of exclamation points or wild product and service claims.

•    Funny Characters – On occasion, strange characters and formatting can creep into your press release during the submission (copy & paste) process. Make sure that your press release is formatted as you intended.

•    Word Wrapping – Do not break each line at 70 characters. Let your sentences wrap naturally. Please do not place a hard carriage return at the end of each line. Include a carriage return only at the end of each paragraph.

•    Incorrect Usage of E-mail – This plagues about 30% of all press releases. Use a “role” account instead of a “personal” account. A role account is pr@companyname. com, where ‘pr’ standing for the role of “PR”. A personal account would be pat@companyname.com, whose personal name is Pat.

•    Using a Call To Action – Do NOT put any call to action text in any areas of your press release. This means that you do not want to mention anything such as “to learn more, go to,” “check them out at,” “click this link,” or any other similar wording. This screams marketing and, as stated before, press releases are for news, not advertising, and most press release publishing websites will not accept your submission if it contains a call to action.

 Press Release Topic Ideas

The list of topics you can write about are truly endless and below are a bunch of examples that I put together for you to get some ideas flowing.

1.    Announcing new blog post from your company on a market related topic (content about your products, company or your opinion on a current news story related to your product or market

2.    Announcing the launch of new products or product options

3.    Sharing customer success stories

4.    Giving free offers for new products

5.    Organizing promotions for the products

6.    Announcing rewards for your workers

7.    Organizing awards for their customers

8.    Announcing that your company is holding Google hangouts to speak about your products and services

9.    Planning on helping the community

10.    Taking part in charitable organizations

11.    Introducing new brands from your company

12.    Announcing decrease of prices in the market

13.    Announcing any change of your product’s name

14.    Announcing staffing changes in your company name

15.    Improving the quality of your products

16.    Announcing change of your product design or packaging

17.    Celebrating the company’s brand anniversary

18.    Announcing new uses of your products

19.    Giving financial updates on how the product is performing in the market

20.    Giving scholarships

21.    Sharing the company’s background information

22.    Sharing the company objectives

23.    Explaining why the product is doing very well in the market

24.    Developing a website for your company and displaying your products

25.    Opening new offices for your company

26.    Announcing new videos about your product

27.    Sponsoring events, students, and teams

28.    Partnering with other organizations

29.    Announcing the annual expectations from the company

30.    Offering free consultations and giving samples of products for trial

31.    Organizing holidays related to the sales and promotions

32.    Changes in shipping (prices or promotions)

33.    Making a comparison analysis of the other products in the market

34.    Explaining why your product design is better than that of your competitor

35.    Addressing weaknesses in similar products and promoting the superiority of your product

36.    Providing free consultations about the product

37.    Giving tips for special event products offers

38.    Providing new related searches of your products

39.    Exhibition of your product in trade shows

40.    Giving away gifts to your customers with a label of the product, e.g. t-shirts

41.    Making a change in the way your products are manufactured or where they are manufactured

42.    Sharing helpful tips about your organization

TAKE ACTION: Getting The Most Bang for Your Buck with Press Releases

As mentioned earlier in this training guide, it is recommended that you outsource this job, but before you do that, it is recommended that you go through the process yourself. In Week/Module 8 of your training, we go into detail on outsourcing, and before you start outsourcing, it is most effective to learn the process yourself. That does not mean that you have to write the press releases yourself, but you will not want to hand this over to someone and not be involved without understanding the process. Make sure you understand exactly how to use our press release tool and what good press releases look like, and then start handing it over to others.

What we recommend you do this week is implement a plan of writing and submit seven press releases over the next seven days. After the seven days, you will have a great start on promoting your product, you will clearly understand how the system works, and be in a good position to be able to understand what the outsourcer will need to do.

NOTE: Remember, you can create a sub-account and give access to your tools. This is available in your account profile area and will allow you to give access to only the tools you want that worker to have access to.

The below action plan assumes that you have your product in stock at Amazon.

Day 1: Launch of new product: This press release focuses on announcing the release of your new product. This release is focused on the product and makes no mention of Amazon (this is covered in next release), other than a link to the product on Amazon.

Day 2: Release of product on Amazon: This press release focuses on announcing that your product is now available on Amazon. Even though you already did a new product announcement, this one is not focused on that but just on the fact that you are selling on Amazon.

Day 3: Launch of new product promotion grand opening sale price ending on a specific day: This release will require that you set a sale price on your product and have an end day assigned to it.

Day 4: Announcement of Customer Experience with Product: This release focuses on the initial reviews that you have on your product. Link directly to the positive ones and quote parts of the reviews in the press release.

Day 5: Announcement of Free Shipping: Amazon provides free shipping for orders over $35; in this release, mention how they can get free shipping if they order today. If you product is over $35 then mention free shipping with every order, or if your product is less than $35, then tell them if they order 2 or more (assuming that will add up to $35 or more), they will get free shipping.

Day 6: Announcement of Money Back Guarantee: Amazon offers a money back guarantee for 30 days and you can create a press release focused on this. Some of you may offer extended guarantees that go beyond Amazon (which would be paid out of your company) and if so, make sure to announce that. You will want to have a webpage with further instructions about this guarantee that you link to in the press release as well.

Day 7: Announcement of Ending of Sale Price: This release just announces the last day of the sale price. You will want this date set in the future (a few days or longer).

NOTE: If your product is not in stock yet, then instead of promoting a sales price you can announce the creation of different social accounts, such as a product/brand focused YouTube account, Facebook page and/or Twitter account. As you can see from the above seven examples and the other 40+ ideas, there are countless topics you can write on. Don’t make excuses… just get to work.

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