I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverge in a wood, and I
Took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost
Let’s face it: in our world, most entrepreneurs are operating at just a fraction of where they could be operating… leaving mounds of opportunity available for the rest of us to capitalize on. And one of these opportunities lies within the power of the press…
- Do you have an opinion (relevant to your business or expertise) about a current event?
- Have you been recognized or recently awarded with a distinction?
- Have you released a new product or created a new report?
- Do you have a unique strategy or approach?
- Can you solve a problem or have a solution to help someone get closer to their desired result?
- Are you holding an event?
- Do you work inside your community?
- Are you doing something special to recognize your customers?
Those are just a few topics that provide great content for a press release – which may have your story reprinted online, offline, in radio, or television all across the world! This gives you thousands (possibly millions) of dollars in “free” advertising, and positions your company as an expert quicker and better than any traditional advertisement possibly could…
Regardless of the type of business you own, press releases are one of the best ways to establish credibility, build trust, drive traffic, increase search engine rankings, and yes, even acquire new leads. Press releases can inspire people to visit your retail location, visit your website, attend a presentation you’re holding, or take part in a product launch.
Press releases are one of the core elements comprising the Positioning component of the Predictable Profits Triad™ (discussed in detail in The Predictable Profits Playbook) for establishing you as the “go-to” company or person in your industry.
It’s not uncommon for someone to call my office or send me an email that says, “Charlie, I see you everywhere!” – and as I dig deep into the source of the referrals, it most often has to do with a mention in the press, a write in up someone else’s blog, or a comment found in an article (inspired by a press release).
In fact, my dad was on the phone with a guy on the other side of the country who said to him: “Did you say your name was Charlie Gaudet – as in THE Charlie Gaudet?” Taken aback and a little puzzled, he said: “Umm, yeah? What do you mean?” The guy on the phone said: “I’ve been following you for over a year now! I can’t believe I have you on the phone!” At that point my dad realized they were talking about me… not Charlie, Sr., and later realized this man first learned about me from an article in the press.
The press can make you a celebrity
and recognized expert.
And while YOU are the person writing the press release, when it’s printed in the media, it’s most often viewed as a third party endorsement.
Seth Godin pointed out in his book Tribes:
- People rarely believe what you tell them
- People seldom believe what you show them
- People frequently believe what others tell them
- People always believe what they tell themselves
A press release is more believable because it’s distributed by third party media, and is written as if it comes from a third party.
…Oh, it’s sweet!
But before you write up your next press release, you should be aware that the vast majority of all press releases (and those by many of those so-called “media gurus”) are constructed poorly – and not optimized for maximum effectiveness.
One expert on the topic is Paul Hartunian (the guy who literally sold the Brookline Bridge)…
Paul and I have had many phone and email conversations, talking about ways we can make press releases more powerful and more effective (and we’ll continue to cover those topics over the next several months).
What I’m doing so far is working very, very well – but I’m always testing new ways to get more attention with the press (and truthfully, this is one element I would be spending more time on if my schedule allowed… press releases are one of my favorite strategies, and completely underutilized by most people!).
Of course, as an Insider, you’ll be the first “in” on what’s working for me.
Today, the focus is about online press releases (offline releases are another animal altogether – and involve more personal, one-on-one relationships and a request for an interview).
For an online press release, while there are many free press release distribution services (such as http://www.prlog.com), that old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here as well…
PRLog is very valuable and will drive traffic to you, but it can’t hold a candle to some of the paid services like PRWeb (my preferred vendor), PR Newswire, or Business Wire. I’ve also found Muck Rack to be a valuable source of targeting journalists, identifying their needs, and building a relationship with them.
[TIP: If you do use a service like PRWeb, and plan on submitting many press releases, call them on the phone and discuss your frequency – they will most likely give you a substantial discount off of the rack rate.]
STEP 1: The Headline
A great press release starts with a headline that’s intriguing, interesting, captivating, and arouses curiosity.
In writing the headline, it’s not about you or your business – it’s about positioning you as an expert.
In other words, which of these is more interesting?
“Predictable Profits Leads New Marketing Technology”
“Are Daily Deal Sites Good for Small Business?”
Then, once I’ve gotten the reader’s attention, I base the article on providing valuable information… (the latter headline still drives traffic to my website, and resulted in several featured mentions… including one in Fox Business that resulted in a few follow up interviews from other media as well.)
VERY IMPORTANT: Press releases are a form of news media. Therefore, they are information-based, not sales-based. The biggest mistake people make when creating a press release is trying to sell their company or product – this is almost guaranteed to squash any possibility that the news networks will share your release with their readership.
The other thing about writing an online press release… is that the headline (and body copy) must be optimized to get good search engine rankings, and must be compelling enough to make someone click and want to read it.
Use keywords in your headline, sub-headline, and throughout the body of your press release while linking back to your site. For example, if I wanted to be ranked for the term “New Hampshire Photographer” and “Baby Photos,” I may create the headline:
“New Hampshire Photographer Offers Parents Three Unusual Tips for Better Baby Photos”
with a sub-headline:
“Joe McPhoto, a New Hampshire Photographer, Says Parents Can Take Professional Baby Photos Using Natural Effects Most Photographers Completely Ignore.”
STEP 2: The Intro
Once you’ve completed the headline and the sub-headline, the first paragraph begins with a few sentences that explain what the release is about, why they need to pay attention, and how it’s relevant to today’s news (for example, it could be tied to a recent news event, holiday, or an announcement you’ve made).
In the Daily Deals example I gave you above, my intro was:
As daily deal sites continue to make news, more small business owners are wondering if these types of sites are a good investment for their business in today’s economy. On August 20, 2012, marketing expert and CEO of PredictableProfits.com, Charles Gaudet, publicly stated on his website, “Daily deal sites are a double-edged sword, and unless they are structured properly, they’re likely to produce more harm than good.”
STEP 3: The Quote
After the headline, the next section is where you establish yourself as an expert by offering the media a quote they may want to use in rewriting the article – or just as fodder for one of their own articles.
My Daily Deal quote:
“It’s important to realize that the daily deal customer purchased a coupon for your business based upon the price of the product, not because they intend to continue doing business with you. Once the daily deal customer redeems the coupon, it’s now the business owner’s job to convert them into a repeat purchaser and a lifetime buyer,” says Gaudet.
IMPORTANT: It’s VERY common for a newspaper or online website to read a press release and use your quote (plus a link to your website) when referencing a topic you wrote about. Your quote is the second most important part of a press release (the headline is the most important).
STEP 4: The Content
Following the quote, there should be some good meaty content that further supports your credibility, authority, and expertise. In general, I’ve found that using bullet points or a numbered list tends to get a better response.
Once you’ve delivered some “meat” and established yourself as a credible source, hopefully you have the reader wanting to learn more about you and your offerings – so you complete the content with a quick sentence or two on where they can get more information. If you offer a free report or consultation, be sure to mention it along with your website, phone number, or other preferred means of communication.
STEP 5: The Wrap Up
Finally, wrap up with a few brief sentences about you and your company. Mention any important awards, recognitions, or affiliations, and by all means, toss something in there that makes you unique!
With a little creativity, you can tie in almost any current news story, holiday, award, announcement, trend, etc. into a press release.
A while ago, I wrote a press release titled, “The Penn State Scandal and What Every Entrepreneur Can Learn from It: With the Scandal Threatening to Damn Penn State’s Future, the CEO of PredictableProfits.com, Charles Gaudet, Says This Could Be a Lesson in Transparency for Every Entrepreneur.”
The Penn State press release was seen over 27,900 times in less than 5 days! And those were only the headline impressions tracked with PRWeb, never mind all the other media outlets!
In fact, I was challenged by an Insiders’ Club Member to come up with a press release about Rick Santorum’s sweater vest. This press release was so intriguing, a reporter picked it up and blasted it out to a nationwide network of reporters to ask her colleagues to follow up with a comment on my press release – it got TONS of attention!
Here it is below:
(click the image above to enlarge)
Remember, reporters are your friends. They simply have a job to do (to create valuable stories), and they’re constantly looking for stories and resources to help them make it happen. If you help a reporter, they’ll gladly cite you as their source, and will often direct people to a phone number or website.