Press Releases: An Overlooked Traffic Tool

Stephen Yagielowicz

While not necessarily the most appropriate tool for reaching surfers, savvy marketers have long used press releases to reach adult Webmasters. Here are a few suggestions for using them to get the word out about your product or service, and a new tool to help make the process easier:

Whether you offer content, site design, sponsor programs, or any other product or service that is targeted towards the needs of adult Webmasters, getting your new message out to the widest audience possible is the key to your success. While you could spend a fortune on advertising (and indeed, targeted advertising is essential), you can quickly, and easily get the ball rolling by issuing carefully crafted, narrowly targeted press releases to the most appropriate venues.

Although many adult Webmaster resources limit release publication to their existing advertisers, many others will run newsworthy releases from non-advertisers as an easy way of increasing their content base, and as a vehicle for courting possible future advertising dollars. For announcements that are very newsworthy, or that will serve a broad and common agenda, nearly every resource will run the release. Here are a few tips to help you write and submit a decent press release:

Crafting Your Statement
Although your press release is really an advertisement, if it is blatantly presented as such, then there is little chance that it will be widely published. Ensure that your news is just that, and the more "newsworthy" the better.

Your first sentence is the most important, so be sure that it attracts attention and holds the reader's interest. Begin with a brief description of the product or service, and once you have their attention, tell the reader who can provide it for them.

Present the facts as clearly as possible, and avoid the excessive use of technical jargon and exclamatory adjectives and phrases such as "The greatest ___ of all time!" This sort of gratuitous hype will only serve to alienate the editor responsible for publishing your release. Remember, with press releases, credibility is everything.

Don't forget to provide complete contact information, including the name of a specific contact person (if possible) as well as URLs, email addresses, phone and fax numbers, ICQ numbers, and other means of contact as appropriate.

Finally, the most important thing is to make sure your "news" is really "new." If you have been running your program or providing your service in an unchanged format for any length of time, then a press release may not be appropriate. If on the other hand you have a sponsor program that has changed it's payout, or added new sites to promote, or perhaps you're a content provider who has added broadband ready feeds to their offerings, then a press release should be the first step to getting the word out.

Formatting Your Press Release
Since we operate in the digital arena, I will not go into the specifics of laying out a printed press release for faxing or mailing, and so I will assume that your release will be distributed via email. Having said this, I also realize that this email is often sent in the form of an attached "MS Word" document, as well as the fact that the recipient may be used to traditional press releases, and may dismiss yours without even bothering to read it — if it is not formatted in the way he or she expects to receive it. Here are a few more tips to help you get your release published:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — This should be the very first line, fully capitalized as it appears here, and placed in the upper left-hand corner of your press release. Follow this with two line breaks and as much contact information as you can provide, just in case the publisher needs to ask you any questions about the material to be released.

Space down a couple of lines and add your headline next. Use bold type to draw attention and be sure to capitalize the first letter of each word, except "a," "an," "and," "the," "of," "to," and "from." While some authors prefer to make their headlines fully capitalized, combining both upper and lower case letters will make it much easier to read. Follow the headline with your dateline, and use it to include not only the date of your release, but the location from where it was released (usually your "main" office address).

When actually writing your release, use the first paragraph to "hook" the reader and then summarize the "5 W's": (Who, What, When, Where, and Why). Follow this up with a more in-depth account of your offering, and then use the final paragraph to summarize. Simply, you will tell the reader what you are about to say, then you will say it, and finally tell them "see, this is what I just said." Keep in mind that you are not writing a book, and if your release will exceed one page, ensure that you do not break up paragraphs, and use the convention "— more — " at the bottom of your page to alert the editor that your text continues on another page. While some of these procedures may seem unnecessary, they are the hallmarks of a good press release...

When you have completed your release text and added the final "For more information" contact legend, finish the page with "###" to show that your press release is completed. While some of these procedures may seem unnecessary, they are the hallmarks of a good press release, and items that experienced editors will look for.

Finally, XBiz now makes the process of submitting your press release much easier with our brand new "Newscaster" service, which you can see in action here. Try it out the next time you have a newsworthy announcement to make! ~ Stephen