Disclosure: I work for a marketing firm. While I have no formal education in marketing or business and would never claim to be an “expert”, working in online marketing for two companies over the last four years has taught me a lot. This series will explore the marketing strategies I will use to promote my upcoming novel.
A few weeks ago in this space I discussed the specific marketing channels I would be using to achieve my goals for 2017, including the publication and distribution of my first novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento.
I have already discussed two of those channels (Facebook and PPC Ads) in previous posts, so now I’d like to discuss my third marketing channel: press releases.
What is a Press Release?
Wikipedia defines a press release as “a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy.”
So, press releases are a news announcement sent directly to media members. Rather than posting a blog about my top 10 favorite books or tips on developing characters, my press release could be specifically geared to let newspapers, magazines, and journalists know about a specific newsworthy story, such as the official publication of my book.
This is a form of indirect marketing, because I am sending my press release in the hopes that interested journalists or media outlets will “pick up” my release and disseminate or re-publish my news to their audiences. For online press releases (which will be my focus), this means that my release could be published on the websites of multiple news outlets.
Beyond traditional media, however, an online press release can and should also reach people in your target audience, such as potential customers and — in the case of a book announcement — even other authors. You want to get your release in front of the people who will be most likely to share it.
Here are the major online press release services:
There are certainly others, and it’s worth it to compare pricing and services, but these are the biggest players. Services such as these will provide release templates to make creating a release simple, and each one will provide distribution options for you to select, helping you narrow down and disseminate your news to your target audience.
After your release is sent, the press release service should then provide data to show you how your release has performed, such as:
- Online Pickups: how many media outlets received and re-published your news
- Headline Impressions: how many online users actually saw your release’s headline on a webpage
- Engagement: this can include clicks on the links in your release, social media shares, and other interactions
Where to Begin?
Once you have decided on a news announcement for your release, you need to ensure that it meets the basic criteria: Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How? Journalism 101, anybody?
Marketing Donut breaks this down perfectly, so why rewrite it? From their article:
- Who? Who are the key players — your company, anyone else involved with the product? Who does your news affect/who does it benefit?
- What? What is new?
- Why? Why is this important news — what does it provide that is different?
- Where? Where is this happening/is there a geographical angle/is the location of business relevant?
- When? What is the timing of this? Does this add significance?
- How? How did this come about?
Answer these six questions first to ensure you have a newsworthy press release, something that provides value to media members and your target audience. Remember: you want them to share this information, which brings me to my final point
Benefits of Online Press Releases
- Press releases can drive traffic back to your own websites or content platforms. By providing informational links about your company (or your author brand) in a press release, interested readers will learn where they can find out more information about you.
- They can boost your search engine optimization for keywords and phrases relevant to your content, such as “new fantasy novel 2017”
- A press release provides valuable knowledge for your audience beyond a simple advertisement. You are providing them with information that they might find useful and are more likely to trust than a blog post or a clickbait ad on a random webpage.
- Press releases give your brand publicity beyond your own content platform, because members of the media will actually see your release. Your release will also be published on the website of the service you choose to send it through, and these websites often rank very high in monthly traffic, launching your name and your book to a much larger audience.
These are really just the basics, but the idea here was just to provide a brief overview of how press releases can be a valuable tool in your brand marketing kit.
I will use press releases as part of my marketing campaign to achieve the following goals, which I first highlighted in my Marketing Strategy post:
- 6,000 unique visitors and 8,500 views on RSPC
- 1,000+ unique visitors on book-related landing pages
- 100 newsletter subscribers
I will be writing at least three press releases this year focusing on relevant news for RSPC in an effort to build my audience. How I go about doing that and the benefits I see from them will be covered in future posts!
References and Other Sources
Marketing Donut, “A complete guide to writing an effective press release,” http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/pr/writing-a-press-release/a-complete-guide-to-writing-an-effective-press-release
MarketWired, “What Makes a News Release Share-Worthy?” April 19, 2016, http://blog.marketwired.com/2016/04/19/what-makes-a-news-release-share-worthy/
PRNewswire, “12 Tips for Writing Press Releases That Drive Demand Gen,” July 26, 2016, http://www.prnewswire.com/blog/press-release-writing-tips-for-promoting-demand-generation-marketing-content-19259.html
PRNewswire, “3 Ways to Promote Content Marketing with Press Releases,” August 9, 2016, http://www.prnewswire.com/blog/types-of-content-marketing-press-releases-19460.html
Wikipedia.org, “Press release,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Press_release
Zerys, “What Can Press Releases Do For Your Content Marketing Campaign?” http://www.zerys.com/solutions/zerys-for-agencies/content-agency-blog/bid/93934/What-Can-Press-Releases-Do-For-Your-Content-Marketing-Campaign