In baseball, the perfect pitch rockets right past the visiting batter as they take a desperate swing at the ball, which is already in the catcher’s glove as the umpire calls strike three, much to the delight of the home crowd. In public relations, though, the perfect pitch is a soft, underhanded lob that the journalist smashes out of the park. Your company can certainly get a base hit by incorporating a typical press release into your SEO campaign, but a carefully crafted media pitch can provide the huge home run you’ve been looking for.
There’s nothing wrong with press releases – in fact, we assist our clients with creating and distributing them on a daily basis. They’re a great way to announce company news, promote an upcoming product release, or inform consumers of exciting things a business is doing. However, in some cases, it can be more beneficial for our clients to send out a media pitch instead of (or in addition to) a press release.
Press releases are typically posted online for mass consumption without any particular recipient in mind. The hope is that news sites, blogs, newspapers and magazines, and even radio or television stations will come across the release and find it interesting enough to publish or report on. Press releases are a tried and true way to get your company name in the news, but in many cases, media pitches can be more successful because they offer a more targeted approach to drawing attention to your business.
With a media pitch, your company (or an organization like WebiMax that helps with your PR work) sends a targeted news announcement, along with a “call to action,” to specific journalists and media organizations that will likely have an interest in the news. In addition to being more specifically targeted than press releases, media pitches usually offer something exclusive or particularly insightful that will entice a journalist to jump on a story before their competitors. Just like your industry is competitive, so is the news business, and reporters love an inside scoop. By extending an offer to a reporter and indicating your willingness to work with them on a story, you are giving them a reason to respond.
In sticking with the theme, let’s say your company makes sports equipment, and you’re ready to release a brand new kind of baseball bat that helps batters hit the ball further. If you put out a press release announcing the upcoming release of the new product, news organizations would undoubtedly be interested as long as you provided the pertinent information. Is the new bat approved for use in Major League Baseball? What players will be using it? Where can the general public buy it? How much will it cost? What type of research was done to prove the bat’s increased effectiveness over traditional models? As long as you include the answers to these basic questions, it’s easy for reporters to repurpose your release into a news story, and you there’s a good chance you’ll see it a few minutes later on your favorite sports blog, hear about it on the news that night, and read it in the paper next day.
However, if you were to send out a tailored media pitch to select journalists, it might result in more substantial and in-depth coverage. Perhaps you could put out a media pitch inviting some of the most respected sports writers to a preview event, where there would be a hands-on demonstration of the new technology. Or, maybe you could offer journalists an exclusive interview with the scientists who worked to develop the new bat, or with one of the star MLB players who will be using it. A media pitch includes that more personal, more direct, and more exciting call to action which a press release often lacks.
A media pitch can generate substantial press coverage, both online and in print, if done correctly.
Of course, sending out a media pitch means there’s going to be a bit more work on your end. You need to be willing to put in the effort to host the event you’re pitching, or to send out the samples you’re offering, or to provide the interviews you’re promising when journalists come calling. However, the time and effort you put in to make the pitch worthwhile can pay dividends when it results in a home run of positive media coverage for your company.
Press releases can be great tools for promoting your company, but in order to reap their benefits you need to make sure that you’re writing your release the right way. Writing a press release can be tricky because you’re trying to find the right balance between news and advertising. But if you follow these tips you’ll be able to write an engaging release that promotes your company and has news value.
Pick An Interesting Topic
Press releases are designed to get the press excited about something that’s going on with your business, and if you want your release to be noticed by reporters you need to base it on a topic someone would find interesting. This can be difficult for some people because they already see the inherent value about what they’re pitching in their press release. When you pick a topic for your press release, ask yourself these three questions:
- “What is interesting about this topic?”
- “Why would a reporter want to write a story about my topic?”
- “Will anyone outside of my business/company care about this topic?”
If you can confidently answer each of the three questions, you’ve found a good press release topic!
Get to the Point
I did an internship at a newspaper when I first graduated college, and the reporters there would receive dozens of press releases every day. How would the reporters sort through all of the press releases they received you ask? It was simple. They would literally delete any press release that didn’t clearly explain the point of the release in the first few sentences. Reporters are very busy people. If they can’t figure out the topic of a press release in the first five seconds of reading it, they won’t even consider covering it for a news story. The first few sentences of your press release should clearly state every important point you want to make, so save all of your quotes and statistics for the body.
Inform, Don’t Promote
This is the biggest mistake people make when they write a press release. A press release shouldn’t be a sales flyer, it needs to be saying something newsworthy or attention grabbing about your company. In order to better understand this concept, take a look at these two samples:
Release A: Houston Cycling is having a 25% off sale on bike chains for the month of May. Houston Cycling provides their customers with high quality cycling supplies at a low price. They have some of the best cycling supplies in Houston, and their products are guaranteed to last long and keep you satisfied for years.
Release B: Houston Cycling is having a 25% off sale on bike chains for May. Houston Cycling provides the greater Houston region with biking supplies and equipment, and they have a wide variety of bike chains and other professional cycling equipment available.
Release A and release B both mention the merchandise the store sells, but release A sounds more like a sales pitch than a press release. Don’t focus on promoting your business in release, focus on promoting the topic of your release. If you keep that concept in mind writing your release will be much easier.
In many of my previous posts here on WebiMax.com, I’ve discussed the importance of content. Blog posts, press releases, videos, images and other forms of media on the Web can not only drive traffic to your site; but enhance your brand’s overall reputation, visibility and earning potential as well.
Speaking of blogs, I read a great post on Search Engine Journal earlier today (thanks for sharing, Patty!) which offered some useful insights on how to maximize the value of content. Of course, social sharing is essential, but content optimization goes far beyond that. By repurposing text-based content as videos, podcasts or even PowerPoint presentations, you are able to reach a broader audience while simultaneously improving SEO performance.
While I do agree that it is critical to get the most from your content; my own strategy varies slightly from the one Marcela outlined in the aforementioned SEJ article. The fundamentals remain the same; however, my emphasis on original (yet, supplemental) content provides a more comprehensive experience which incentivizes the user/reader/viewer to remain engaged.
In order to simplify my approach to content marketing, I’ve streamlined it into two phases – Creation and Promotion:
Begin with mapping out one BIG content blueprint. What story or topic is relevant to your brand, interesting to your audience and easily expanded upon? This framework will tell a complete story, but in a somewhat “segmented” fashion.
Start with the basics – a blog post. Although every blog should tell a complete story, it’s important to always leave an opportunity for your audience to interact and remain flexible enough to create unique supplemental content to continue the conversation of the blog across other mediums.
Follow the blog post with a video, podcast or an infographic. While the subject matter should be related, these should also work as standalone content. This will ensure that your audience remains engaged regardless of which “piece” of the content they discover first. Naturally, all of this content can be utilized cohesively, but originality is a must!
After you’ve created several pieces of unique content around a central topic, it’s time to get them online and promote!
Social media is a powerful promotional tool, but there are other options which marketers and business owners have been utilizing recently. Sponsored content placement, PR and digital video advertising are proving to be effective ways to market content across multiple platforms and reach a more diverse audience, as well.
By developing a tiered approach to content creation and marketing, you’re not only able to increase the long-term viability of the content itself, but generate greater brand awareness and an improved user experience for your consumers or clients.
Share your content marketing success stories in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Twitter for more content tips: @WebiMax
Last night, I had the opportunity to speak at the fourth Agile SEO – South Jersey Meetup of 2012 at the WebiMax HQ in Mt. Laurel, NJ and thanks to the great audience and my fellow presenters, Ryan Buddenhagen, Chris Countey and Bill Slawski (who offered a thorough SEO audit to one of our attendees), it’s safe to say that this was one of our best meetups yet!
My presentation, entitled, “Future Shock: How Rich Content & Public Relations Will Change Online Marketing” offered a glimpse into two key components of emerging digital marketing strategies. The increase of both video and PR within Internet marketing campaigns and greater consumer interest in those services has put them on the radar of many SEO developers and will help solidify their position in the industry. Additionally, the authoritative backlinks within press releases and online news articles and the ever-increasing prevalence of video packs within universal search results are making them less esoteric to traditional SEO developers.
The Role of Video
Although I’m definitely not the first guy in the digital marketing industry to support the use of video as a marketing tool, but I do stand firmly behind its value as a resource to business owners looking to enhance their visibility. In my presentation, I discussed YouTube’s growing presence on the Web and how Google’s AdWords for Video has heavily been promoted as of late. At this point, the value of rich content is virtually immeasurable and every business should utilize video marketing and advertising online in order to create a stronger brand identity and captivate the attention of a larger consumer base.
Public Relations in SEO
I introduced the topic of PR during my presentation, but Ryan really elaborated on the subject and explained how it integrates flawlessly into many SEO campaigns. By issuing media pitches and press release which utilize important keywords, brand names and key figures within the company, it’s possible to achieve backlink placement on high-quality, relevant and authoritative sites. Beyond that, PR provides credibility to brands and individuals within those companies, as well.
The Site Analysis with Bill Slawski & Chris Countey
Watching Chris and Bill put their expertise to use during the SEO analysis they performed was a great learning experience for me and virtually everyone else in attendance. Even to the most knowledgeable SEO tacticians, Chris and Bill offered very useful insights into the process of determining a page’s SEO performance.
All-in-all, last night’s Agile SEO Meetup was an entertaining, informative experience and I can’t wait to see what our host Chris has in store next month. Stay tuned!
View the full presentation from last night’s meetup on SlideShare here and as always, feel free to reach out to me via email: email@example.com or on Twitter @brwebimax with any questions or comments!
SEO is almost constantly evolving, growing and becoming more complex, but regardless of how search engine optimization techniques change; content will always be an important component of online marketing initiatives.
While a majority of my posts emphasize the benefits of rich content and multimedia within Internet marketing campaigns, the role of blogs, articles and other on-site text is as crucial as ever before. In fact, creating more effective and “SEO-friendly” content is a primary objective of many campaigns.
Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates made their now-infamous debuts, words like “quality” and “relevance” have become prevalent in the SEO community, but creating strong, relevant content is only the first step. Search engines actually encourage the promotion and distribution of such content and have even developed useful tools to help authors achieve greater visibility within the SERPs. The following strategies are amongst the most effective in the industry for authors and marketers looking to enhance the reach and visibility of their content:
When properly utilized, Google Authorship can be an excellent resource for content creators and can help to increase overall visibility and social engagement within Google+.
Notice how a Google search of the term “Chris Countey” returns results from sites on which our own SEO guru is featured as an author? Additionally, when Chris is mentioned by other contributors with authorship enabled, those results appear prominently on the SERP, as well. Authorship offers distinct advantages to content creators and definitely provides value within SEO campaigns.
Social Media Promotion
Outside of G+, networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide prime promotional real estate. Sharing, tweeting and liking have played a part in social media marketing and optimization campaigns for quite some time now, but using these platforms to promote blog posts, articles and other content has also helped many SEOs achieve greater success and higher visibility.
PR & Media Outreach
There are opportunities for content creators that go beyond guest blogging and social promotion. PR efforts such as press releases, media outreach and interviews provide major platforms for content creators to enhance their audience on a local, national and even global scale. Some Internet marketing firms are already offering PR services and more are likely to jump on the bandwagon in the months ahead due to its proven success.
Speaking of PR, I’ll be presenting at next week’s Agile SEO Meetup and further elaborating on the role of public relations and media outreach within online marketing campaigns. Click the link to check it out live next Monday (the 12th) at 7pm EST or tune in online via Webex.
Each year, more businesses are adopting social media marketing strategies to enhance their traditional, offline marketing efforts. The overall reach of social networks is impressive, with the combined user base of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounting for about 1/7 of the world’s entire population. However, the vast scope of social media has left some business owners concerned about being “lost in the shuffle” and struggling to attain discernable visibility.
One important element to gaining recognition and visibility in the social space and within the SERPs is relevance. The term “relevance” goes beyond merely generating on-page content and keywords that are in line with a page’s general theme or context. Researching trends in social media and discovering ways to relate those trends to a brand’s offerings is one of the most effective ways to maximize the value of social media marketing and enhance brand awareness online.
Last week, fellow WebiMax.com Blog contributor and VP of Marketing & Digital Strategy, Todd Bailey, appeared on FOX News to discuss the hot topic of Penn State and how the university can repair its online reputation. Additionally, he wrote a follow-up blog post and hosted a video News Update further detailing the situation and possible long-term reputation management solutions for PSU. By relating a trending news topic to one of his areas of expertise, Todd was able to gain considerable visibility for his knowledge of reputation management and its application to a widely known issue.
Creating pertinent content not only positively affects organic search rankings and social engagement, but it is a crucial component of building brand awareness and establishing brand personality. With the roles of P.R., rich content and social media becoming substantially larger in online marketing initiatives, businesses should expect to see significantly increased value in generating high-quality, original content from trending topics.