Putting the Power to Work
We’ve discussed previously several aspects of the press release and the power it has to help your business from several perspectives. We’ve also shown why it is difficult to match the cost-effectiveness of a well-written and strategically distributed press release with any other marketing effort. Summarising those points, your press release can achieve a number of benefits above and beyond simply getting the word out to the press. Aside from the possibility of actually obtaining coverage in the media, your release can be used:
- For marketing efforts
- As an employee communications tool
- For communications with customers and vendors
- Enhancing SEO efforts and online visibility
To illustrate these many uses of this nifty tool, we’ll discuss below several examples of successful press releases.
As a small IT and strategic consulting company based in New York City, Pillar Consulting had minimal dollars available for marketing during its launch and early growth. To stand out in a crowded market, the company turned to SEO and the creation of buzz about a new web tool it was launching. With only six employees, the company simply couldn’t afford to invest in an advertising effort with elements such as direct mail and online advertising. Instead, the founder of the venture, Richard Lee, chose to turn to press releases as the cornerstone of their launch strategy for the new product. Lee chose to invest in PRWeb and used a number of their free tools and in-house editorial team to compose and target his releases. The very first release received coverage in a number of major publications, including Business Week, CBS Chicago Tribune, USA Today, FOX News, and others. The first phone calls came within six hour of the initial release. Responses from several prospective customers were generated within 24 hours, and one of those first calls generated more than $20,000 in revenue. This provided the cash flow for continued promotion of the new product and started a process of steady growth. Lee continues to use press releases to announce news about his company, its products and services, and any other significant developments such as major new customers.
Most business owners would welcome any chance to make an investment in marketing which resulted in a 30 percent increase in web traffic and a better than 100 percent increase in sales leads. Robb Hamic, founder and owner of Summit Self Defense, needed a boost in business, but he simply didn’t have the funds for marketing. The entrepreneur had lost money in several businesses and failed marketing efforts. He chose to turn to press releases and social media to promote his new business, Summit Self Defense. Because of his involvement in a range of security issues from narco-terrorism to personal safety, Hamic carefully researched keywords to include in his press releases. Addressing the unique nature of his product, Hamic also developed some simple videos and included links to them in his PR efforts. By combining several inexpensive but effective methods, Hamic tailored a program including:
- SEO-effective press releases
- Pre-planned tweets to coincide with the release of each new PR
- Videos that improved search results
- Links to his Facebook and Twitter accounts
- Emails of the PR to his growing list of contacts and customers
Largely based on these efforts, Hamic garnered more than 3.5 hours of free airtime on local AM radio stations while discussing security issues, five stories carried on national broadcasts, and a cover story in the Santa Fe Reporter. Hamic’s success brought one observation many business owners should consider. This deals with our earlier points concerning persistency. He states that it takes as many as 25 impressions to bring some of his customers to a buying decision. He gained these impressions at a very low cost thanks to his affordable and consistent PR efforts. The success of this process was celebrated in yet another recent release that was titled, "Robb Hamic Trained His 5000th Student this Week."
Knowing the value of public relations, Robert Livingstone of Ideal Cost retained a firm and paid them a flat $1,000 per month. He was disappointed to only receive two small mentions in local media after four months – a cost of $2,000 per media blurb. He stopped the process and decided to invest a small part of the money he was spending on a professional press release writer and a number of releases. Livingston recognized he was in a niche business and focused his efforts on that niche. With his first few releases, he gained coverage in more than five dozen national media sources, including Forbes.com, MSN Money, and FoxBusiness.com. He also received mentions in more than 60 blogs, resulting in significant additional website traffic and SEO links. Building on this success, Livingston continued his efforts at a small percentage of his earlier costs. His business gained additional exposure in several trade publications, including a feature story in a key industry magazine, American Banker. This happy business owner makes his own keen observation. He points out, “We didn’t just brag about who we were. We make sure our releases touch on current topics and keywords reporters are covering and topics that they need additional sources for discussion.” Livingston also leverages his PR and press mentions. His company creates a PDF of every article and includes in on the website and in marketing materials. He notes the articles give him real credibility with prospects and existing customers. These files also provide valuable backgrounders for reporters wanting to do additional stories.
Joanna Penn is a successful author who teaches other writers how to market their books and develop their freelance businesses. She preaches the power and cost-efficiency of the press release and has developed a large following, in part because she practices what she preaches. Her fundamental advice is to send the right information to the right people at the right time.
Elements of her successful press releases include:
- Tailor each release to a specific target with the right information. Over time, she has built a list of journalists who follow certain trends and developments in the world of publishing and writing.
- Be concise. Penn tries to keep her releases to one page of about 500 to 800 words
- Be interesting. She tries to provide interesting, keyword-sensitive information, not simply advertise herself or a new book.
- Focus on the goal. For Penn, the primary objective is usually to drive readers to her website to seek further information or sign up for her newsletter.
- Include quotes. Penn believes personal quotes and those from authorities always make the PR more readable.
- Provide contact information. Penn includes a phone number dedicated to her press releases, always ready to respond to a reporter who might be facing a deadline.
We’ll publish more of these case studies in the future. We’d like to hear from those of you who use these pointers on press releases and create your own success stories. Don’t just build a better mouse trap; let the world know about it by using well-written and carefully distributed press releases.