For this month’s Expert Advice feature, we got in contact with Frank Strong who was nice enough to take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to let us interview him about the amazing work he does for a company called Vocus. Vocus is a leading provider of cloud marketing software that helps organizations reach and influence buyers across multiple social networks, online and through the media. Vocus also owns PRWeb, Help-a-Reporter-Out, North Social, and iContact. Strong is the director of PR for Vocus and knows better than anybody the benefits of a well-executed press release.
A press release is a platform to spread the word or even break a story about absolutely anything, but there is so much more to it. Did you know that a simple press release can benefit your organization’s SEO (search engine optimization) results and ultimately sales? A common misconception about press releases is that they are difficult to write. However, a typical press release is supposed to be written in a form that as Frank says, “mom can understand”.
Ready to learn everything you need to know about writing a press release? Let’s get to the full interview:
Planet Green Recycle: Can you tell us about your background and how you came to be the Director of Public Relations for PRWeb?
Frank: I joined Vocus in early 2009. Vocus is the parent company of PRWeb and also owns other brands you readers might be familiar with including iContact, Help A Reporter and North Social. Historically my experience has primarily been with start-ups and venture-backed companies and I’ve worked for agencies large and small. Vocus is my second gig on the corporate communications side of the house.
Planet Green Recycle: How can a well-written press release benefit an organization?
Frank: Press releases can be an incredibly valuable part of an overall marketing program. Too often businesses have great stories and don’t tell anyone, and press releases are a time-tested way to share your news. Consider the following:
- Search. Press releases aren’t just for the media anymore. A press release distributed on the web can be found through search. When people need something, where do they go to look? They go to Google or another search engine – search is an expression of needs – and a search-optimized news release can reach a prospective customer at the precise time they are expressing that need.
- Traffic. Online news releases are effective traffic drivers. When customers include links to their site, along with compelling content and multimedia, it’s an invitation to visit your site. The more people that come to your site, and the longer they stay, the better the chances they are going to purchase something from you.
- Earned media. We can’t buy our way into editorial coverage – we have to earn it. While press releases are accessible to more than reporters, it’s important to remember that reporters are people too – and when they have questions – they too turn to search for answers.
- Sales. Over the years I’ve spoken with a number of customers that have used press releases to drive sales. For example, one online retailer had been selling gear on Amazon.com and used online press releases to drive traffic to the site. I’ve seen similar examples with eBay sellers. One small business owner I’ve spoken to recently resells concert tickets online and she told me the only marketing she does is press releases. Her company is profitable and has grown revenue 85% since May of this year.
Planet Green Recycle: What are your top tips for creating well-written release for those without a lot of experience?
Frank: It can seem daunting for people who do not write often or who have never written a press release – but it isn’t that hard at all. So my advice is this:
- 3 key points. Think about the three key points you want to get across – then focus in on those points and tell a story.
- Write so Mom can understand. If you’re struggling with a blank page, pretend you are trying to explain whatever it is you are writing about to your mother; get your ideas on paper first, then go back and fine tune it.
- Inverted pyramid. It’s best to use the inverted pyramid format. This is just a fancy way of saying start off with the big picture idea and then drill down on the details.
- Study up. If you’re really stuck for an idea, visit the PRWeb news center and search for organizations that are similar to yours and review them to see what others have done. PRWeb also publishes a lot of useful content on our Learning Center and frequently post tips and tricks on our blog. I’d also recommend reviewing the editorial guidelines.
Planet Green Recycle: How does PRWeb help in the process of media release distribution? What services do you offer?
Frank: PRWeb does offer writing and editing services. If you’re new to press releases this can be a valuable way to both get a release published – and get a quick education on the process. It’s always useful to have someone walk you through it on the first try. However, lots of people give it a go the first time on their own. PRWeb will review every release before it goes out – we do this mostly from an editorial perspective to ensure the content meets the standards expressed in our editorial guidelines – but some customers find it comforting to know their release will be reviewed before it is published.
Frank: Even the experts are students of new media. The key here is to set aside “study” time. Carve out a half-an hour each day and focus on reviewing the latest. Save those items of interest and come back to them later for a closer look if you run out of time. Google’s CEO is famous for having once said, “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” Information is a reality today – there’s a lot of it – so the best way to approach this and avoid feeling overwhelmed is to make time every day to consume a little nugget of knowledge.
We would like to thank Frank Strong for sharing his valuable insight. Stay tuned for the next post about email marketing for our monthly blog series, Expert Advice.
-Team Planet Green Recycle