Press Releases Are (Still) Useful for Marketers

Marketing Flight School - Press Releases

No matter what kind of online marketing is your specialty — SEO, social media or content — the press release is a valuable tool.

Have you heard otherwise?

A recent update to Google’s definition of link schemes rippled through SEO and public relations circles.

Google’s new language about “unnatural links” that violate the company’s guidelines specifically calls out “links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.” The simple fix: add a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the link tag. The links won’t pass any value, at least as far as Google is concerned.

Within two weeks, all major PR distribution services started adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute to all links automatically.

That left some online marketers wondering. If Google doesn’t consider press release links valuable — and there’s no direct SEO benefit — does that mean that online press releases have no value in general?

Absolutely not! Press releases still have value in general. In fact, online distribution of press releases has tremendous value in three specific ways. They:

  1. Get the attention of journalists (or other influencers)
  2. Get your message to your target audience
  3. Move your audience to action

That’s what I talked about in last week’s 40-minute Raven Online Marketing Training Class. Watch it to learn the four ways that you can meet those goals, as well as the Raven tools that can help.

At 4:20, see the four basic goals of a press release.
At 4:45, find out the latest ways of finding journalist contact information (and stalking them).
At 24:21, learn which metrics you can report about press releases that go far beyond pickups.
At 29:30, find out which Raven tools can help as you create, distribute and measure press release marketing.
At 35:50, watch a live demo of Raven’s PR Newswire integration. Remember, PR Newswire releases are 25% off in October! That could be worth upgrading to Raven Pro just for one month if you have lots of news to distribute.

Just want to see the tips?

Check out the slideshow — which includes links to all of the sources mentioned for obtaining journalist contact information — posted on SlideShare.

Want to know what Raven tools can help?

Here’s more detail about the Raven tools that can help publicists and the marketers who do publicity:

Press release creation

Content Manager: Write or save your press release copy in the Content Manager. That way you’ll always know exactly what you have written and distributed.

Scribe analysis: Every Raven Pro account includes 50 free SEO analyses. Even if press release links aren’t valued by Google, the content still is – and a Scribe SEO analysis will make sure that your press release content is optimized like any other kind of online content. Pay attention to the Scribe Document Score. For press releases, that’s what matters for SEO.

Readability score: When you run a Scribe analysis in Raven’s Content Manager, you’ll get a bonus readability score. The lower your grade level score, the better — too much jargon, and you’ll end up with a high grade level score. This is a great way to keep the marketing-speak to a minimum.

Press release distribution

PR Newswire: Yes! You can distribute press releases directly from Raven. It’s affordable for small and midsize agencies, and there are lots of great add-ons — such as your photo and headline showing up on a billboard in Times Square — that will please clients.

Link Manager: Did a journalist or blogger mention your news? Give you a link in a story? Or share your press release via Twitter? Save any of those URLs in the Link Manager. It’s the most organized way to keep track of your publicity efforts among a team. Create custom types and statuses for easy filtering and reporting.

CRM: Use Raven’s Contact Relationship Manager to store your press contacts. Create custom types and statuses. Leave notes about the contact. Keep up with them on Twitter, right from the CRM. Assign yourself tasks. Associate contacts with the links or mentions they gave you (as long as you store them in the Link Manager). Next time you contact them, you’ll be able to include a link to the last time they wrote about you. Plus, create message templates to save you time when you’re emailing the same basic information to lots of contacts.

Twitter: You can create and manage unlimited Twitter lists in Raven for unlimited Twitter accounts. Keep up with your journalist / influencer lists, which I talk more about in the training class video.

Press release measurement

Twitter metrics / Facebook metrics: Did your press release mention news about a contest that involves social media? Track and report social media increases as a result.

Social Monitor: Did your press release generate more buzz about your company, even if it didn’t result in direct media coverage? Maybe journalists or bloggers tweeted about it. Social Monitor will pick that up. Track and report social media mentions before, during and after your press release campaign cycle.

Link Manager: If a news outlet, journalist or blogger links to you, add the URL to Link Manager. Then turn on Raven’s link monitoring for that link, and Raven will pull a reportable screenshot of the exact page. You can also report any mentions or citations if you’ve added the URL that they’re on to the Link Manager.

Google Analytics: Use Raven’s new Google Analytics integration and new custom Google Analytics charts to report direct increases in traffic, engagement and conversions after your publicity campaign.

Event Manager: Remember to report on your activity! Add something like “Press Release Distribution” as an event in the Event Manager. Repeat for every release.

Report Wizard: Wrap it all up for your client in one fast, simple report with Raven’s Report Wizard.

Previous Online Marketing Training sessions

Join us every Thursday

Every Thursday at 11 a.m. CDT a Raven expert teaches a new online training class focused on making you a smarter marketer.

Next up: A Tweet is Worth What? A Guide to Measuring Social Media

What you’ll learn: You’re posting; you’re engaging; you’re sharing awesome content. Great! So how do you show – and report – the impact of all your hard work? Learn how to match social media to your business goals, focus on the right social media metrics and prove real value.

When: Thursday, October 24, 2013, at 11 a.m. CDT

Sign up here.

Have ideas for other Raven training classes and the topics you’d like to see covered? Let us know in the comments!

Arienne Holland

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.

  • Greg Shuey

    Fantastic Arienne! I love how marketers have stopped doing press releases because “google told them to”. We are still driving quite a bit of visibility and qualified leads through press releases and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!!!

    • RavenArienne

      Thanks for sharing, Greg. You’re right, it seems like so many people got the wrong message entirely. Glad to hear press releases are still working well for you.

  • Ed Carbery

    Here’s another good tip: Make sure all the links in your press releases/articles work as they may get syndicated by big sites such as Search Engine Land.

    Speaking of which, the first two links in this article are 404s.

    • RavenCourtney

      Whoops! Thanks for the heads up, Ed. Darn smart quotes. All should be fixed now.

    • RavenArienne

      Facepalm. Headdesk. Deep sigh. As Courtney mentioned, darn the smart quotes that futz with my links. Thanks again for the good catch.

  • tedives

    Google probably ignores nofollow to a large degree (past vague statements to the contrary). The exceptions being using it to identify ads, and reciprocal links.

    SEOMoz’s 2011 correlation study found nofollow vs. follow links had the same ranking correlations (I don’t think they covered it in the one they did this year though).