Cheryl Lawson is the founder of Party Aficionado, a leading social marketing firm. Cheryl helps companies develop social marketing strategies online and face to face. She is a PRWeb client and a small business superstar! Check out the great advice she gave for small businesses regarding press releases:
- What can small businesses do to get more exposure for their press releases?
- Research it! Set up Google alerts for your industry. Your releases should be an easy fit into the conversation.
- Test it! Test your headline and summary in search. Do the results land where you want it to be?
- Write It! Write to tell your story first then concentrate on keywords and links.
- Share it! Once the release is live, share it via appropriate social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
- Analyze it! Use PRweb’s analytics to see how your release performs, reads, interactions, and online pickups.
- Repeat it! Make adjustments and schedule the next one. Only write when you have something new to share.
Make it easy for the media outlet. Know their audience and frame your story with an eye toward current trends and events. Keep a short list of targeted journalists and send your releases along with a personal note to them.
- How have press releases increased your online presence? PRweb is always in the top 2-5 referrers to my website(s). My releases were SEO before SEO was cool.
- How do you craft your press releases to get more exposure? Always the basics: Headline, summary, body, include quote, boiler plate, link to a landing page or website. I always include photos to support the story and video as often as possible. Include a photo of a person, not the logo. Logos are great, but small business owners need to be people. Just like the blog posts, I name my releases and customize the URL: http://www.prweb.com/releases/SocialMediaTulsa/Conference2011/prweb5040284.html
- . Customizing URL’s is very important for the SEO of press releases. Be direct. Simplify the message and give the audience what they want as concisely as possible. Don’t waste their time. Work to humanize the release. Be professional, but bring the human element because audiences expect that from small business. Write it almost as if the reporter is writing it. The less work for them, the better.
- What is the biggest mistake small businesses make when distributing a press release? Only doing one. Consistency is key! They don’t share and re-purpose it. A good blog post can become a great news release and vice versa. Think story telling. I don’t know one small business that doesn’t have more than one story to tell. I think that’s why I like PRweb so much. I prefer “submit and share” to “send” any day. Thinking that all they have to do to get coverage is to put out the release is a misconception too. There’s a ton more to do. The “send” is not the last step. Leverage all your communication channels to spread the word. Don’t blanket email media and journalists with the release with a canned message. They hate that and want it personalized.
- What are some of the best practices you’ve seen for press releases? A few of my favorites are the ones I have tried like adding Twitter ID’s and hashtags to headlines. I like seeing releases linked to fan pages. I can’t wait to link to a Google + page. Also, put a call to action after the first or second paragraph. Keep titles simple and direct. Use the summary to have some fun. Make it easy for the audience to connect- provide all social media points of contact. It has to be interesting to more people than just you and the company or client. If it’s not, rewrite or don’t send it.
- What is an effective press release distribution schedule? That’s tricky. I suggest only one per month for new projects. Other than that, only when you have something new to share. Friday, late in the evening is a good time to distribute if you are handling a crisis. Base it on the worthiness of the work. You should be sending one out at least once a month.
- Is the press release dead or evolving? The press release is evolving not dying. They provide a strong channel to spread the word to your audience. Customized search results will drastically change online PR, not kill it. With SEO as one goal, the release is still a succinct way to deliver information. Press releases are how you get the ball rolling, but it’s what you do with it that makes a difference. It establishes a foundation of information. The relationship and follow up after the press release will never evolve even as the tool does. It’s the hustle behind the release that butters the bread of your PR efforts. The news release has evolved as has the way we share it. Press releases are not dead!
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