Attracting the attention of the online media and securing editorial coverage is a lucrative side effect of producing and distributing online press releases and articles. Column inches in an industry-specific trade publication or website of a local newspaper are invaluable – the exposure can boost sales, drive extra traffic, help create brand recall and give credibility to your business.
Recognition by a newspaper, magazine or website can also help with search engine optimization by providing a high quality, relevant link back. But while you probably know the basics of attempting to get the media’s attention (issuing PRs, inviting local members of the press to an event, etc.) do you know that your online marketing can also be a turn off? Here are some mistakes you might be making:
1. Not Getting to the Point
However large or small the website you’re targeting for an editorial feature, the writer in question is undoubtedly very busy. A rambling introduction to your PR may help with your SEO word count and keyword density, but it will almost certainly result in the message being deleted before it’s read in its entirety.
Keep the first paragraph of your PR succinct and to the point – this is your chance to explain in a few short sentences why the journalist should keep reading. Whet the appetite, include the salient facts, and keep background information for the end of the release. If the person reading takes the time to get that far into the piece, you can be sure they’ll be interested in learning a little bit more about who you are and what your company does.
2. Using Too Much Business Speak
One of the biggest bug bears of busy journalists is having to wade through lots of meaningless phrases such as ‘outside the box,’ ‘the web’s favorite,’ etc. This simply conceals the nuts and bolts of the story and claims such as being the favorite which aren’t backed up with fact clutter the release. No matter how good your website or how many links you have included, unproven boastings can also undermine your authority, harming your chances of being covered. Journalists have a habit of sniffing out the truth so will pay little notice to unsubstantiated claims. Make too many of them and they will run a mile from your story for fear of publishing something that is untrue. In order to win trust and convey your message accurately, keep the tone of the release professional and clear but leave meaningless phrases such as ‘heads up’ and ‘touch base’ in the boardroom.
3. Forgetting That First Impressions Do Count
Before you issue your first release, you’ll need to give any target publications a call or email to request contact details for the news desk. Even if you speak only to the receptionist and don’t get to speak to a journalist, be polite and thank the person for their help. You may think that the person you’re speaking to doesn’t have the power to veto a website inclusion or a story’s publication, but that isn’t always the case. If you’re rude or fail to recognize that the person answering the phone has helped you, you’re already off to a bad start.
Likewise, if you send an email requesting contact details for your new distribution list, recognize that it’s your first contact with that outlet and the impression they have of you and your business is based on that initial message. Use a spell check, keep the message brief, and explain in short where you’re from and why you’d like the information. Also be sure to use an email address associated with your domain such as info@ or media@ rather than a personal email, as these can look unprofessional.
4. Not Being Selective About Who You Approach
One of the hangovers from the days of link building by building as many links as possible without focusing too much on relevance or quality is a tendency to target as many people as possible with each release. If you send your PR out to every single journalist, website and publication you can think of, it’s likely that your message will fail to resonate with the majority. While it’s true that editorial coverage on a good website doesn’t happen overnight, increasing the number of recipients in order to up your chances of picking up a link is not the right approach.
Just like you have a select list of favorite hobbies, so journalist and websites have very small remits and areas of interest. Creating too large a list and issuing the same standard PR to everyone results in a lack of targeting which can lead to no coverage at all. Rein in your link building instincts by keeping lists small and personalizing the release for that particular group. This will have much more success in the long run as the few tweaks you make to target each new group will increase the chances of your story being deemed relevant.
5. Not Asking Yourself Why Should They Care?
The primary function of a news website or blog is to inform the readership about events of interest. It isn’t to give your business coverage or a needed link. Failing to ask yourself why your reader should care and then conveying that in your release is sure to turn off more media than it attracts.
If you can avoid the above five mistakes when placing your online press releases and news items, you’ll have a headstart on getting your content noticed and, more importantly, published. Just try to put yourself in the position of the recipient of your content when you put together the package, and plan and execute accordingly.