Most of my time during the last week has been swallowed up by learning about press releases; how to write one, SEO one, distribute it, and get a high ranking on Google News. This falls outside my job description but my author client needed the help and why pass up a chance to learn something new? If done right, a press release can create hundreds/thousands of back links to your website and a spike in traffic in the 10’s of thousands. It could even land you a spot on the Today Show or Late Night circuit if your story is that news worthy. However, the release of this book is probably wasn’t going to make the Today Show so I set our goal to getting a first page ranking on Google News. Since our ultimate goal is sales I figured we should drive the traffic to the free chapter on our blog and have a click paths to the book on Amazon from both the press release and free chapter. If they read the free chapter they’ll laugh and hopefully buy the book.
First step was to find an angle that was newsworthy. Since corporate America is the bad guy in the press lately, I chose “New book exposes the real corporate America” for a headline to tap into that. The word expose suggests something sinister. Overhyped? Of course! But your headline has to stand out among an ocean of others and the goal is simply to get them to read the first sentence or two of your release.
The goal of the first two sentences is to get them to read the rest of the press release, nothing more.
“This is the stuff corporate America doesn’t want you to know. The ugly truth about mergers, why high alcohol tolerance helps career advancement, and how a conversation with HR about head-gear policy goes down before an assistant is fired for wearing packing tape.”
Borderline out of context? Hell yes! But hopefully that’s intriguing enough to get them to read the rest of the press.
I am not a writer and don’t claim to be so the press release wasn’t written as well as I would have liked. But it was formatted to standards, had the info we wanted, and just maybe had a good enough hook to get read. It also contained the right amount of keywords (2.5% to 3.5%). I chose corporate America as our keyword. Hoping that it’s not too competitive like business or books would be but hopefully it’s a term that enough people search. Also, the keyword was in the headline and the proper embedded links to the free chapter and book on Amazon were in the body: Check.
Next step is distribution. There are services such as PRweb.com and PR.com that most pr agents use to get their press releases out there. These services have connections with 10’s of thousands of media outlets across all mediums. These services are free but the catch is if you want to release a quality press release with a picture and links you will need to upgrade to one of their paid services. PRweb wanted $200/each or a 1 yr subscription for up to 2 releases per month that’s almost $2000!!!
My initial plan was to splash the press release all over the place anywhere we could. After doing some research I discovered that it will be regarded as spam if I do that. The first “expert” recommended just releasing once. Upon further digging, I found most experts recommend releasing it once or twice a month over the course of several months to climb the ranks of Google News. You can’t release the same one either (that would be too easy). No, you have to come up with a new angle every time if it’s not a developing story. The release of a book is hardly a developing story unless I am going to release updates on sales which is hardly newsworthy…”You Can’t Make This Shit Up!! Corporate America just sold its 17th copy this month….really?
I presented this all to the client. He didn’t like my angle. He understood what I was trying to do but just wasn’t comfortable with words like “expose” which I totally understand. That’s not the purpose of his work. On the cost and problem of how to spin the same news of the book’s release for 6 months, he left it up to me to decide if we should do this or not. I said no.
Given the awful cover of the book I would rather see that money go toward cover redesign first. Then we can maybe look at a press release. I think we need to see whether or not we can set of a viral reaction in social media (which costs $0) before we go dropping $2K on anything. At least I learned something and have a new tool in my box.