I just read this blog over at SEOmoz and it got me to thinking about the role and purpose of press releases in online marketing. Once upon a time press releases were written as a way to entice news editors to write a story about whatever it was you were pitching. If an editor didn’t like it or the story didn’t get picked up, that was it. Today, the target audience for press releases has shifted from just editors to both search engines and the worldwide populace. So are press releases still useful?
Of course! The only difference in the online market is competition. There are so many ways to get press releases published on websites now that millions of people are sending them in. With that much competition, you had better make sure you are writing some highly focused and targeted copy.
What’s true with traditional press releases holds true with online releases: if it sucks, noone’s going to read it, or link to it, or blog about it, etc. What makes a press release suck? Selling something. Anything. Noone wants to be told/asked/cajoled/manipulated/begged to buy anything, even stupid people. Yes, even morons want to be finessed.
So how do you get out a press release about some new product and get people to buy it? You don’t. Instead, you create or find an angle to market your product less directly. You write around the product and talk about something which is parallel, but not directly selling whatever it is you’re selling. For example, you just created a new can opener. Instead of writing about your new can opener, write a press release about how you just donated 100 can openers to your local kindergarten, then mention the product. Of course, the downside there is you have to actually make the donation …
Getting back to the actual goal of press releases in SEO marketing: increasing organic exposure. The goal of traditional press releases was to be read; the goal of SEO marketing is to be found in search engines. Of course, you’ve got to have something which people actually want to read and link to, which makes your job even harder now. So how do you do it?