9 Best Practices for Getting Press Coverage
As Executive Editor of Web Digest For Marketers, I get hundreds of requests for press coverage every year. But, I also seek press coverage for this newsletter because I am also its publisher.
Below, I'll share what I've found successful in getting press coverage, as well as what I look for when being pitched to give press to another firm.
I'll also identify some savvy uses of social media that we've found recently while covering Internet marketing for Web Digest For Marketers.
1. Keep your ear to the Twitter track. A Comcast employee monitors Twitter for any references to the keyword "Comcast." I spoke to someone who Twittered about an issue she had with Comcast. Within just a few minutes, this employee was in touch with her, and the problem that prompted the Twitter post was taken care of within an hour.
Comcast's Director of Digital Care, who uses the Twitter name "comcastcares," has, at time of writing, more than 11,000 followers and 27,000-plus updates and comments. Presumably, many of these people are Comcast customers.
It is hard to imagine how Twitter will be ad-supported. But it works well as a medium for a firm to identify problems and get them solved quickly before they erupt into worse issues.
You can search Twitter for references to your company using its search function. The contents for Web Digest For Marketers is primarily sent out through an email newsletter format. Of late, we have set up specific permanent Web pages to which bloggers and Twitterers can link.
2. Look at opportunities in audience-to-audience marketing. User-generated reviews are a permanent fixture in the social media landscape. Members of the audience are interested in what other audience members have to say. Talk radio is the old-media equivalent.
In talk radio, it's more obvious where the radio station puts its ads. It is not so obvious how to monetize audience-to-audience content. But, it does provide PR opportunities.
I read a guest review online that panned a hotel property recently. I then read a response from the general manager of that very property who apologized for the negative experience. He explained what happened, and he did a "make-good."
He was forthright, and that came across in his post, which added to a certain comfort level about doing business with this property. This is real one-to-one PR.
3. What's in it for my readers? Many people who contact me looking for coverage in my newsletter have never read it. Give me an angle, a reason why your press release is relevant to my audience.
I once threw a curveball at someone who pitched me for coverage. I asked if she ever read my newsletter. She replied in an annoyed tone, "I don't have time to read all the newsletters." But I'm supposed to have time to read her press release?
Here's a good opener: "I saw your recent issue on SEO and thought you would find our CEO's views on that topic useful."
I keep track of who points to my site using my referrer logs, and I track blogged links to my site from Technorati.com.
4. Start your own blog. Make sure you keep it focused, so people have good reason to come back repeatedly. Offering high-value information and links to resources elsewhere builds loyalty and a following. It also has the following positive effects:
Social Media Guru Steve Rubel started his blog in 2003. It is a must-read for those who want to keep up on trends and practices in Social Media. According to Yahoo! Site Explorer, he now has over 9,000 domains linking in.
Steve works for the PR firm Edelman Digital. Each week, he's quoted in at least one major news outlet, such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week or the BBC.
While Steve's blog has led to new business for the firm, it is more instrumental in helping the firm expand Social Media services to existing clients.
There is no doubt that you gain a certain amount of street credibility when you don't just talk the talk, but you walk the walk as well by doing for yourself what you suggest your clients do.
5. Use press releases for inbound links. The press-release distribution services post your press release along with many others. These sites usually receive lots of traffic. The search engines see these sites as being very active with many publishing updates. So, pages posted on such sites will come up for appropriate keywords at aggregator sites like Google News and Yahoo! News.
At the time of writing, the good folks at PRWeb informed me that roughly one link for every 100 words is acceptable by the search engines. If there are too many links in a press release, it can be rejected for being too "SEO spammy." Note: The ratio might change by the time you read this.
Disclosure: Vocus/PRWeb is an advertiser in Web Digest For Marketers.
6. Post your press releases on your own Web site. At Web Digest For Marketers, we check out thousands of sites each year for possible inclusion in our editorial.
One of the things we look for is the press-release page. This gives us an idea of a company's agendas, their audience, and how often they send out press releases. If the last one was dated two years ago, well, maybe they're not as communications-active as they once were. That tells us something, too.
BTW: Make sure your press releases have no typos. We've nixed many sites because there were just too many typos in press releases or across the entire site.
7. Propagate with white papers. SEO Guru Mike Grehan authors books and white papers from time to time. At the time of writing, his current white paper is "New Signals to Search Engines: Future Proofing Your Search Marketing Strategy." Mike speaks at most major SEO shows and is considered a thought leader.
At these events, he makes known that he has a white paper available. Mike works for a search agency called Acronym Media, where he is the Director of Keyword Driven Marketing.
Not only do people go back to their offices and download his white paper, they pass it along as well. You might call this pass-along PR, and it is very effective because it carries an implied endorsement. Thus, it picks up even more credibility as it gets passed from one to another via email.
8. Inbound links often build slowly. Too often, an organization judges the effect of a press release or posting of content way too early. Articles I've written years ago are just being blogged about now.
9. Start an email list for your press releases. Invite your press contacts to join this list, but don't add anyone's email address without their permission. That would be counterproductive.
I am subscribed to a few email PR lists that send me press releases regularly. Because I'm inundated with requests for press coverage, you might ask why I would go out of my way to sign up for a company's email PR list.
Take comScore, for example. I signed up for its list because, more often than not, it tells me something I need to know about Internet usage or marketing in order to do my job. Even if I don't open the comScore press release, I usually find the subject line interesting.
When you start your own PR email list, think hard about how each email you send will bring value to the subscriber.
You don't need me to tell you that there are tectonic shifts in media now that will change permanently how we communicate with our respective audiences. I think social media is better for CRM and PR purposes than it is as an advertising medium. By all means, use it for CRM and PR in innovative ways.
On the other hand, while the way we use media is changing dramatically, there are certain things that will never change. If you want to get someone's attention, you have to offer them something interesting, whether it's a white paper, a Tweetcast or a PR pitch on the telephone. People will always appreciate value. Good PR, in my estimation, always does offer good value.