This guest post is by Frank Strong of Vocus.
Most bloggers understand that online press releases can drive traffic. Press releases are powerful ways to reach people through search. As Lee Odden wrote in his book Optimize, “search is an explicit expression of need or want” and online press releases provide the means to reach people at the precise time they are expressing that need. This of course can result in one thing many bloggers desire the most: traffic.
ProBlogger has offered reasons to use press releases to promote a blog, and very sound editorial guidance on how to turn a press release into a blog post. However, there’s one piece of insight that’s missing: idea.
In other words, what are we going to write a press release about?
This is especially important for the better press release distribution services. They must enforce editorial guidelines or risk having their content rejected by distribution partners.
The biggest catch? We’ve got to have a news angle—that is, there’s got to be something new in our announcements. I’ve seen bloggers struggle with this concept the most, and so here’s a few ideas that I’ve found make great press releases that are effective and simple to produce.
1. More reads for the most read
As bloggers, we know that to build a community, we’ve got to blog consistently. The same is true for online releases: we need to develop a regular cadence for our announcements.
One very easy way is to announce our most read blog posts every quarter.
Take a look at your analytics and determine which posts earned the most unique visitors and then write a press release about it. Is the media going to call us? Probably not, but we’ll definitely earn some traffic and hopefully repeat visitors. This works best if we can find a trending angle—as you can see my company follows our own advice and earned 1,000 new visitors with this release.
2. Themes emerge in blogs
Sometimes bloggers like to experiment with an idea—we get a hunch and the float the idea on our blog to gauge the reaction. One idea leads to another and the next thing we know, we’ve got a whole series of blog posts.
As they say in the news business, three is a trend, so look for a trend that emerges from all time we’ve invested in blogging and find those emergent themes. Then, write a press release that illustrates the trend just like a hard news story you might read on a major news site. In this case, your press release is the story.
3. Research is newsworthy
Matt Landau is like any other entrepreneur trying to make a living. To promote his business, he does what good marketers all do well: he’s active on social media, publishes a blog, and contributes content elsewhere. He’s got a niche in vacation rental marketing and over the years has accrued wisdom that he’s turned into products, like reports, guidebooks and research he sells on his blog.
For one of his latest products he spent $199 on a press release and earned $3,850 in bookings. However, he is cautionary against suggesting such success can come overnight. During a phone conversation, Matt noted that content marketing is a “slow, long hard process that requires a commitment, but if you are confident and persistent, that persistence pays off.” The lesson? Consistency matters.
4. The news before the news
Starting a review site? Want products to review on a blog? We’ve got to tell someone about it if want them to come—building it isn’t enough.
Marie Howard was tired of lousy beauty products and started a blog, Howard House Reviews, to review beauty products for women. And she announced it to the world. Ah, but that’s only a one-time announcement, right? No. The consumer industry has sales seasons and so too should review blogs.
Journalist Beeb Ashcroft announced her Holiday Gift Guide for 2012 which will help drive traffic, but also attract new products to review, and in turn, drive more traffic. There’s an announcement for every season.
5. Announce what’s new
Satyam Kumar is a yoga teacher that knows how to promote his business. He blogs, he has a newsletter, and he creates audio podcasts and video tracks for practicing the various yoga techniques he teaches and he hosts them on his blog.
When he uploads a newest yoga podcast, he puts out an announcement about it and is careful to point out to readers they can subscribe on iTunes, so he gains not just visitors, but subscribers.
This tactic can work well for any sort of new content we produce on our social outposts and embed on our blogs: the latest YouTube video you embedded on demonstrating your software, or the latest speaking presentation just posted to SlideShare. If this works well, double down and post the five most views SlideShare presentations to the blog and announce that too.
Get tactical—and practical—with your next release
These ideas are not strategic—they are tactical and intended to be practical ways to promote a blog with press releases. There’s a quotation often attributed to Hinduism that might well apply: “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”