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When I look at the SE results for my website, it's the PR releases that I paid for that are ranked the highest.
Caveat: I got this idea from reading posts here on WW. Anyone with more experience on this technique, I'm begging you to give some further insight.
On the "very easy" side, it's about formatting and newsworthyness. Put it into a format familiar to the editors and say something that their readers want to know about and you'll get picked up in a flash. See... easy!
On the "extremely difficult" side, knowing what an editor finds newsworthy (your latest sale isn't interesting) and knowing when to release your release can be quite tricky.
We follow a very specific rule of thumb. We evaluate every outgoing message. If it looks like an ad, we trash it. If it looks like an article, we keep it.
Remember a reporter's best friends... Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.
Most ads don't answer those questions, while successful articles almost always do. Look at some stories on CNN or WSJ. You'll start to see how a reporter thinks. Then look at the adjacent ads. You'll start to see how ad agencies think.
When putting together your press release, think like a reporter. Remove adjectives and superlatives. Write objectively about the issue, give it straight, no fluff.
But there's more to it.
That's how to get your press release picked up by editors. If "publication" is all you care about, then you'll be fine.
But I think you want more than that. And that means you have to work even harder.
You said that the results were "poor". What results are you after? As I just said...getting your release picked up by editors isn't that hard.
Getting readers to:
1) notice your article
2) read the headline
3) read the article and
4) (the holy grail) take action
requires much more work!
for instance give your prospects something of value, some reason to take action.
Which do you think will be more interesting to the reader?
Now here is the tricky part... you have to bring both aspects together, and you have to be extremely subtle about it. If my article is only about a special price, most editors won't run it.
If my article is only content, the reader isn't going to visit my store.
Good PR is interesting to editors, gives readers good information, and provides both a reason and the means to take action. A tall order indeed.
[edited by: stuntdubl at 11:39 pm (utc) on Dec. 27, 2004]
[edit reason] No self promo - See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]