When Free Releases and Social Media Press Releases Fall in a Forest of Silence

There's a reason why we've been telling HRmarketer members and clients for years to send text versions of their press releases direct to journalists and editors. I'm not talking about an Internet wire service distributions because I'll get to that shortly.

I'm talking about creating media distribution lists from our media outlets database and send releases directly to journalists and editors via their contact email. HTML releases will still get trapped most of the time as opposed to text releases, and most email clients - in particular Outlook 2007 - won't even download images unless you have your settings automated or download manually each time.

And it's really all about the content - the story - you're pitching, not whether or not it's visually appealing with images and formatting. Who cares? Journalists don't. Just look at AP stories online. Ensure your direct releases get read - send them as text releases. All URL's will still be read as live links, no worries there.

Next up is distributing via Internet wire services. Here's a question: if your release falls in a free-online-distribution-service forest, and no one can find it online, does it make a sound?

Not really. At least not compared to using paid services Business Wire, PRNewswire, Marketwire and our long-time favorite PRWeb (our Internet wire service partner of choice via our Direct2Net service).

In fact, check out these online statistics from a recent HRmarketer member distributed PRWeb release. It is definitely THE most cost-effective online distribution service that allows you to search-optimize your releases with keyword embedded links, attached files, images and more -- ensuring they'll be found in Google News and Yahoo News. And they be found not only by media but also prospects and other buying influencers.

A great post titled 5 Ways Free Press Release Sites Can Cost You from 30-Minute PR outlines the pros and mostly cons quite well. Here's a quick summary:

1. Extra time investment

Time is money. When you pay to distribute online press releases you can often rely on just one service, especially if you use big, established newswires like PR Newswire, BusinessWire and Marketwire. Even PRWeb can provide enough coverage to justify just using a single provider.

2. Online exposure and visibility

One reason to use multiple free press release sites is that you can’t rely on a single free press release site to deliver the typical coverage and exposure you receive from a paid site. Granted, you can increase visibility by paying to upgrade (see #3) but then that’s not a free press release site and it is costing you, right?

3. Upgrades = extra cost

Now this is an area that gets right to the bottom line. How do free press release sites stay in business? Well, advertising revenue is one way. Another is an upgrade fee. And then they're no longer free.

4. Performance metrics/course correcting

At a high level, you can view online press release metrics in two camps: external and internal. External includes search engine performance, keyword ranking, press release views/downloads and backlinks. Internal refers to how that traffic shows up to your website: visitors, conversions, etc.

5. Staying power

One of my most effective online PR strategies is creating evergreen content somewhere in the press release. That way, when the release is found via a keyword search, there is content still deemed relevant to the user.

And that's the long-lasting beauty of search-optimized releases being distributed online via our Direct2Net service - it's aggregated content found again and again as long as you're distributing regular press releases online. Those links keep on truckin' back to your site.

Lastly, what about all the hubbub over the past few years on social media press releases. Similar to free online distribution services, they just aren't indexed and found in search engines like paid distributed services are (again, Direct2Net/PRWeb).

Read this informative post titled Social Media Press Release Blown Away in Hail of Bullets.

As you can see in the graph, SMPR's just don't fair as well as traditional press releases do online.

The concept of social media press releases is cool - embedding rich visual content with RSS feeds to video, podcasts, etc. But they just aren't search-engine friendly. At least not yet.

Many of the new distribution options and PR measurement tools worked. But adding social media elements to press releases didn't. Blogs and other social media enable two-way conversation, but most press releases - even many of ones that use the social media format - are essays, not interviews; broadcasts, not conversations; lectures, not discussions.

Rebecca Corliss on HubSpot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog stated back in May, "Use social media and multimedia elements in your PR strategy, not your press releases."

Post your "social media press releases" with multimedia elements in your social media newsroom and make it a Destination Site - use other marketing and PR activities and traditional and online search-optimized release distribution methods to drive traffic to your content-rich site. The EmployeeScreenIQ University site is a great example of this.

For those of you who skipped to the end, look out for my falling trees:

There you have it. Time for lunch.

Post by Kevin W. Grossman (join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn - and now join HRmarketer on Twitter!)

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