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Public relations

PR Results? Yes! Overnight? Not so fast…

Whether you’re looking to land your dream job, or your dream mate, sometimes, the best things in life can take time. The same can be true when it comes to securing national press coverage. If you’re looking to use the power of PR to land some high-profile coverage, then keep this in mind:

Results don’t happen overnight. Sure if you’re Microsoft announcing you’re releasing a version of Office for the iPad (let’s hope!) you’ll get instant results. And lots of them. But unless it’s really hot news or time sensitive you need to learn to be patient. And if you want coverage in national monthly magazines, be prepared to wait up to a year and sometimes longer.

Let me share a recent client example. The results didn’t happen over-night (more like 365 nights) but the national press coverage was well worth the wait.

I pitched a story to a journalist on May 3, 2011 and the interview happened shortly thereafter. The story finally ran on February 1 2012 in the Huffington Post. It also later ran on the home page of AOL. Not just any old story – it was a wonderfully written 1,000+ word profile of the business along with a gorgeous 28 picture slide show. Read it here.  Fabulous exposure for the company. In fact their website hits were up more than 70% immediately following the story.  And shortly after the story ran, they were told that the article had received 312,000 hits.

Do the math. It ran almost 9 months to the day after I first pitched it.  Worth waiting for?  Absolutely.  Instant gratification?  Absolutely not.

Lest you think this is an isolated case, here’s another example. I pitched the Wall Street Journal on May 9, 2011. I heard back right away from the News Editor. Which in and of itself is pretty amazing. Here’s what he said in part:

“We would be happy to add Ms. Gelb to our list of possible profiles. That said, please know that we have heard from hundreds of readers. We are trying to work our way through the pile as quickly as possible – but it’s going to take some time.”

The ‘back in touch’ happened six months later, on December 21. The interview took place between Christmas and New Year. The profile is scheduled to run April 19. (Wahoo!) It might be a daily newspaper but it will be almost exactly a year from pitching to print.

So an online news site and a daily newspaper took 9-12 months for an article placement. That would also be a typical timeline for long-lead (i.e. monthly print) publications.

 So the lesson here…. Don’t hire a PR firm for three months, or even six, task them with getting national press, and expect to get instant results. Create a long-term relationship and work with your firm. Effective PR requires a lot of things, not the least of which is a big dose of patience!

Public relations

Optimizing your press releases for SEO

key wordsBack in the day, press releases used to go exclusively to the media.  We PR professionals used to write them, post them on the wire and send them out to our databases. An editor would then determine whether it was worthy of their attention. That’s still how it works, but a press release is so much more these days. Not only are they read by your customers and anyone with access to the Internet, but they are also a great tool for  increasing rankings in search engines.

The elements of a good press release remain the same: use the inverted pyramid style; write a strong headline and lead paragraph; cover the five Ws—who, what, where, when, and why—in the first or second paragraph; avoid jargon, buzz words and hype.  See my earlier post about taking  a buzz saw to the buzz words. Oh yeah, and make sure you actually have something newsworthy to announce!

But what’s new is that you need to think about optimizing your releases for search engines. What does this mean? Make sure your releases are full of keyword-rich copy. Think carefully about what the pertinent keywords should be; the ones that would be commonly used by your customers to search for your product or service, not just the ones your industry uses to talk about itself. Need help figuring them out? Use Google AdWords for ideas. Try to use the keywords in your headline and in the first 50 words of the release.

Other tips:

  • Integrate anchor text hyperlinks within the body copy of the press release.
  • Post the press release to a news area on your site. This will create an additional page the search engines can crawl, index and perhaps show in search engine results.
  • Watch the length of your release. Some news search engines will not recognize a press release that is longer than 1,000 words or less than 200 words. Additionally, the longer your press release, the less keyword density it will have.

However, above all make sure your release reads well. Just like writing web copy it’s always a balancing act between pleasing the search engine Gods and pleasing your audience. Don’t stuff your copy with keywords to the point where you turn off your readers and customers.

For more tips check out the great resources that PRWeb offers.

Public relations

Put the shoe on the other foot from time to time

These days I’m a guest blogger and occasional co-host to TableTalkRadio. In addition to feeding my foodie soul and allowing me to do fun things like attend the Seattle Top Chef tryouts or go to the media preview and menu tasting for The ‘Pen (a new concession area at Safeco Field with amazing food) it’s been a great reminder of what marketers/communicators should always be doing: putting themselves in their customers’ shoes.

I’ve been pitching the media for years. I know what makes a good story and a good pitch, I know that it’s my job to facilitate things and get them useful information in a timely fashion.  I admit it was a little weird to have the shoe on the other foot and to wander around Safeco Field wearing a media badge. But illuminating. When you’re on deadline and writing your story and searching for content, you view press releases and the people who sent them in a whole new way. I don’t know that I’d do anything differently but it has heightened my awareness of my customers’ needs.  Being on the other side of the fence has been good for me.

Public relations

Take the buzz saw to the buzz words

Chainsaw Jen hates buzzwords as much as I do

I am forever telling clients that there are many words that are so overused as to be meaningless. Being a ‘leading solutions provider,’ ‘innovative leader’ or ‘award winning’ does not differentiate you nor add anything to your PR or marketing copy. In fact it can diminish your credibility. It certainly makes my eyes glaze over.

That’s why I love this article from Ragan’s PR Daily which reports on PR strategist Adam Sherk’s analysis of the top 25 most overused buzzwords in PR and marketing.

The most common word (used 776 times in press releases in a 24 hour period) is ‘leading’ followed by ‘solution’ (622 times).  Innovate / innovative / innovator was #4 on the list.

So please peoples, take a buzz saw to the buzz words and find more creative ways to express yourselves.