I espoused the virtues of the humble news release as a link-building tool to Mashable some time ago and continue to believe in this tactic.
We apply this thinking in cultivating our own brand.
For example, we distributed a news release on our new U.S. general manager last week that generated syndicated pickup in a number of media properties including Reuters.
The three backlinks that appeared in the Reuters piece – one going to www.hoffman.com and two earmarked for this storytelling forum – are extremely valuable.
Search engine algorithms don’t distinguish between syndicated content like our news release and actual stories crafted by journalists. The algorithm simply sees content hanging off of www.reuters.com.
This is significant because not all backlinks are created equal. A backlink from Reuters, a global media property with mass readership and a zillion backlinks itself, carries considerable clout. For the cost of news release distribution (cheap), we generated three golden links.
Also by using keywords in our anchor text, “storytelling techniques” and “storytelling workshops,” we accentuate these terms.
In retrospect, we should have handled the hyperlink to www.hoffman.com like this:
“The Hoffman Agency, a PR agency focused on technology, has appointed …”
Not like this:
“The Hoffman Agency has appointed …
We want that “link juice” going to terms that will help bring more qualified traffic to our website. Anyone looking for The Hoffman Agency and plugging these words into Google is going to find us – no problem. Instead, it’s the people searching on the category where there’s upside that increases our organic search traffic.
Now, you might be asking why didn’t we generate more “gold” and add more hyperlinks to the news release. If you add too many hyperlinks, this can trigger a “bad reaction” similar to keyword stuffing.
Note: If you enjoyed this post, you might check out There’s Enough Room in this Town For Both Storytelling and Keywords and Insights From BusinessWire’s Top 20 News Releases of 2011.
It’s impossible to evaluate both the process and effectiveness of a “news release” without first examining the history of them.
1. In the dawn of primordial communication, Oogla in the Agency Cave – working for tech conglomerate, Huge Pecs — scribed a short message on a rock (“Big Mammoth come! New robust Mammoth scaleable eat solution come soon from Oogla distributors”) and threw it at Bam-Bam the artist who, with some distain, scribed it on the wall. Oogla was happy as was his Huge Pecs client. But Bam-Bam’s cave owners thought the process was too one-way; they wanted Bam-Bam to go investigate and get quotable sources for the story.
2. Over time, the process improved a bit. Oogla’s successors decided that the direct approach worked better. They taped a news release to a bottle of Scotch and sent it to a tired, overworked editor who threw the bottle in his bottom drawer and gave the hand-typed release to a cub reporter to draft into a story. “Go over and interview Bob over at Global and get his opinion on this.” The process worked but took too much time; Louh, the cub reporter usually stopped by the
3. Then it was the phone – probably a dial phone on a “PR guy’s” desk –> calling a “Reporter guy’s” desk phone. During this stage, newspapers and magazines actually thrived, there were even competitive morning and evening papers in cities, people read and had in-depth knowledge from reading, and reporters had to answer the phone or they’d possibly miss a “scoop” that their competitor would jump on. PR Agencies were stepchildren of “Mad Men.” Somewhere during this phase, the first press tour, starring the Toni Twins (“Is it a real curl or a Toni curl?”) was established – and reporters began to learn how to deflect calls, requests for meetings and hype couched in news.
4. The phone – and actual communication and selling of an idea – morphed into mass faxing of news releases with the ultimate time-waster (albeit billable time for the agency folks) of calling a reporter and asking, “Did you get the fax (I just sent)?” Hype, buzzwords and blather became mainstays. No longer did news releases have any connection to actual “news.” And, as a result, reporter/editor cordialness quickly evaporated. This was the heyday of Silicon Valley, East Wacker Drive, Chicago, and Madison Avenue “public relations” agencies inasmuch as they had the fax lists and knew who might actually listen. Newbie account executives fresh out of college who’d never seen the inside of a newsroom and knew nothing about the nexus of a good story or news, were tasked with creating and delivering the hype, oh and doing the smile-and-dial routine. On a status report, this action was labeled, “Follow up call to editor . . . (i.e., “Did you get the fax I just sent?). “
5. The fax gave way to email and mass spam-delivery of announcements. There were no boundaries to how many people could be bothered with one button, “Send.” And the news element was long gone – replaced by as much sales hype and “We’re excited . . . about this robust solution . . . “statements overlayed with Hyperlinks to some brochureware on a Website. Ultimately, the game changed into how many links can we pack into a news release, not, why and how is this news?
That’s where we are today. No wonder the Google engines no longer tolerate over-stuffing the SEO – they’re now barfing up the blarney they’ve been fed since Oogla first threw his rock.
Anyone who can bring Fred Flinstone and Jim Rome into the same narrative deserves storytelling kudos.
In fact, it probably could have been a guest post.
This rewind of the tape brought back the memory of faxing news releases to journalists. I’d like to say it was crude, but effective … but it wasn’t effective.
Thanks for weighing in.
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