The press release industry has changed over the past 10 years as more and more journalists and news outlets flock to the internet. As a result, a small/medium business no longer needs to hire a public relations agency for the sole purpose of issuing a press release. There are numerous press release distribution options available online, including free distribution options for those willing to write their own release.
However, can press releases generate sales leads? Yes. Is it really worth the time and expense? Maybe, it really depends on how you approach it.
Let’s explore whether a press release strategy might work for your business.
Some Things HAVE Changed
The other day I noticed a company press release displayed on page 1 of a Google search. This was for a very competitive search term. Advertisers on this page were paying Google $10 every time someone clicked on their ad for this particular search term, which is pretty pricey. This press release was issued only the day before and the company didn’t have to pay a penny to have Google display it in their organic search results!
This company definitely received immediate new traffic to their website. Search engines like Google and Bing love news and compelling content from trusted news sites. On this particular day, this company probably got a better ROI with a press release than they did with their PPC AdWords campaign.
In addition, the press release helped their website rank higher, which increased the on-going traffic to their online business. Generally speaking, the more websites that point back to your site, the higher your site will rise in the Google/Bing search results. A press release is often published on hundreds of websites over a 30 day period.
Some Things Have Not Changed
First of all let’s cover a few things that have not changed regarding press releases.
- Your press release needs to be newsworthy for your target audience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about the launch of a new business or new product. It could simply be highlighting a new capability or functionality that you have not been promoted before, and therefore would be new information for the reader.
- It needs to be properly written. A press release has specific structure and content requirements. As your reader walks through the press release, they are essentially “peeling the onion” to discover more about the “who, what, where, when, why, how and so what” of your announcement. To be effective, the release should include supporting comments from third party sources.
- It’s not a one-time wonder. Few marketing programs ever are. To get full ROI, you should do at least one press release per month for 3 to 6 months.
What Should You Do?
If you want to have a similar result to the company mentioned above, here are your options.
Option 1 – Online News Distribution: You could have a press release nicely written and distributed to Google News, Press Release websites and leading “news” websites. Your release could include images, videos and links to your website. Depending on your particular industry/niche, and which news sites pick up your story, you should see some traffic to your website and improvement in your overall website rankings. This might be a good option for a small business. On Marketing Outfield, PROse Marketing will write and distribute your press release for $298.
Option 2 – Traditional News Distribution: For a few hundred dollars more, you could have your press release written by a professional journalist and distributed via top tier vendors such as AP Newswire, PR Newswire and others. In addition to the benefits of option 1 above, your press release could reach thousands of real journalists, hundreds of newspapers, etc. If a journalist or newspaper writes a story about you, you could see some meaningful traffic to your online business. This might be a good option for any company with a compelling announcement. On Marketing Outfield, Fairground Marketing will write and distribute your press release via AP Newswire, PR Newswire and others for $983 per month.
Option 3 – Public Relations Agency Distribution: For a few thousand dollars more, you could retain a PR agency. PR agencies do more than just write a press release and arrange distribution. They reach out to their personal contact database of journalists to encourage them to write about your business, not just post your press release on their site. They help you inform and influence industry analysts and thought leaders. They look for opportunities to “spread the word” by participating in industry contests/awards and by leveraging your attendance at trade shows. This is a good option for companies that want to demonstrate their ongoing market leadership. A solid PR agency, with the right connections in your specific industry and location, will generally cost at least $5,000 per month plus distribution costs.
Is This Your Best Way To Increase Revenue?
Press Releases can be an important element of your online sales lead generation activity, but don’t expect that a single press release will keep you on the first page of a Google/Bing search for very long. If you want to generate more sales leads, press releases need to be part of a longer term marketing approach that might include online advertising, online business listings, blogging, and search engine optimization.
Whatever marketing you do, whether its press release distribution or advertising, you need to measure the results. How many websites carried your story? How much traffic did your website receive? What was the ROI in terms of new customers, new revenue and increased profit? Fortunately, this is relatively easy to measure for online activities.
Without knowing the ROI, you can’t tell if one PR service is better than another. More importantly, without measuring ROI, you won’t know if press releases work better than any other marketing programs you are currently implementing.
A small business owner does not have to be a Marketing Guru or have a huge marketing budget in order to grow their business. They can outsource the execution of selected marketing campaigns to independent marketing specialists. Marketing Outfield is an online marketplace where small businesses can choose from a fixed price menu of marketing packages. Marketing Outfield’s founder, Dave Hubbard, has over 30 years of experience helping companies grow and provides an educational blog for business leaders to discuss the diversity of successful marketing techniques, including the execution of traditional and internet marketing. You can find it all at www.MarketingOutfield.com.