Free Publicity With Press Releases

An effective strategy for free publicity is to write and send press releases. A press release, sometimes called a news release or media release, is an announcement of something important.

Here are 5 key points for a good press release so that the one your send will get read and distributed.

First you need to write a great headline. I say great because you need to attract the attention of a reporter or editor and you have lots of competition. Be sure to put the topic in the headline so that it contains some key words and can get the attention of Google.

Secondly, make sure your story is newsworthy to an audience that is bigger than your niche. That means the story needs to be current and appealing. Trendy would even be better.

The third important point is to avoid jargon and techno babble. The media does not have time to figure this out and neither do your readers.

Just in case it should slip your mind, do not make the press release a blatant advertisement.

And finally, make sure your press release is well written. If you are not a good writer, then hire someone to do the writing for you.

Before you start writing the press release, make sure you have all the pertinent information for the announcement. You need to give what every journalist wants: the who, where, when and how.

Then figure out what are the appropriate media outlets to send your press release.

You can write press releases with any of the following strategies for creating a hook so that the reporter or editor will certainly want to read your press release. These strategies are using a controversy, survey or research results. What also works well are announcements about an award, announcing a new position, a new blog, and a new website. Press releases can get fairly boring without a good hook.

Social Media Releases is gaining popularity and visibility. Some view it as an alternative to traditional web sites. Social Media Releases are similar to traditional releases except they reach more people.

Social Media Releases are often linked to Social Networks and when that network discusses your topic, you are likely to be very successful getting the attention of hundreds in the forum. As the name implies, Social Media Releases focus on the social aspect of information. There are also social media newsrooms where you can post your releases. Make sure your keywords are written in the press release.

The directories for news releases, most of which are free but some will charge. Fees may range from $80 a release to $1000 for an annual membership.

And I invite you to claim your free Special Report on Building Your Online Empire as well as a recording of this information, by visiting http://www.InternetBusinessBuildingGuide.com and get started right away with building a profitable online business. Connie Ragen Green has been teaching people how to use their writing to get started on the internet since 2006, as well as how to use the technology needed to be successful on the internet.

Viral Marketing

If you’re not utilizing the power of viral marketing, you may be missing out on a very effective new tool. This form of Internet-based marketing relies on the use of blogs, seemingly amateur Web sites like YouTube, and grassroots media campaigns to generate widespread word of mouth interest and “buzz” for a new product or service. A typical viral marketing campaign aims at generating media coverage via unusual, stories, funny video clips, interactive advertising games, images, and text. These are then passed from user to user at an extremely rapid, exponential (“viral”) pace, often reaching hundreds of thousands or millions of people for far less cost than would be possible using traditional marketing tools.

Due to its ability to generate extremely a high, rapid response rate for a relatively low cost compared to traditional marketing methods such as direct mail, viral marketing is a very popular and powerful medium. The following quick guide will help you create your company’s viral marketing campaign.

Give away products or services

In the world of viral marketing, it’s usually a good idea to give away something for nothing. Most successful viral marketing campaigns provide a free product or service to attract attention. Giveaways could include a complimentary brochure or software program with limited functionality, or a free button or pin. A discount on a service or product may generate interest, but “free” typically accomplishes the task faster and draws more people.

Make it Easy to Pass along Your Message

Like actual viruses, a viral marketing message spreads fast when it’s easy to transmit.

The medium that carries your marketing message must be easy to transfer and replicate.

Use e-mail, a special Web link, or graphic, or provide a free software download. Viral marketing works because it’s so simple and inexpensive, so use a digital format to make copying easy. Also, viral marketing is most effective when the message is short and direct.

Make Sure Your Mail Servers Are Ready

If you’re using e-mail as the core of your viral marketing strategy, you must ensure that your mail servers have enough capacity to handle exponentially larger amounts of traffic.

So it’s a good idea to plan ahead for easy and rapid addition of mail servers. This will put you in a good position to manage the campaign. You must build scalability into your viral model.

Utilize Existing Communication Networks

Most people are social and develop a close circle of friends, family, and associates. A person’s broader network may consist of hundreds or thousands of people, depending upon his or her job or social status. People on the Internet develop networks of relationships, consisting of circles of people with whom they regularly communicate. So it’s important to leverage such things as popular Web sites that draw large volumes of traffic or permission-based e-mail lists that potentially can reach millions of people simultaneously.

Concluding Thoughts

I hope that you enjoyed this article and that it will help you supercharge your marketing effort, leading to increased sales. Thanks for reading!

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

The Rise of Video Web Content

Video has notoriously dominated the entertainment industry, and thus the advertising industry for a half century. Recently though, the 300 pound gorillas of the video entertainment industry have taken a beating. So many factors have curbed their power, and now we are looking at an emerging opportunity to gather some of that power to ourselves by using the hypnotic mystery of video ourselves in the online venue.

The internet has certainly brought the middlemen of nearly every sector to their knees. If we look at entertainment brokers as middlemen, could we imagine creating our own content, promoting our own productions, and controlling more of our own traffic and advertising potential? Some innovative web developers have taken us halfway there.

YouTube, Guba, Google Video, Blip TV, and many other providers of free video sharing sites have given all of us the power to publically publish our own video content. The productions are rightfully short due to the issue of bandwidth as well as file storage, but there is also the issue of the truncated attention span of the modern day internet surfer. Even with these episode length curtailments, there are still many respectable serials up on these free sharing sites, and they are quite well done. As a matter of fact, there is something to be said for short, powerful punches of entertainment. In effect, serials made up of short streaming episodes can add up to impressive, award winning quality, production results.

We would like to advocate the concept that a new art form is being organically developed as we speak. There does seem to be a further impediment to the serious pursuit of the art by the masses however. This is not to say that there is no pursuit at all, just that what is being done is not really serious. It might be guessed that a factor in the inhibition to the seriousness of the majority of the efforts we see on these video sharing sites is that there is really no incentive for anyone to create gripping, well thought out, well crafted, and well acted content. What we’re talking about is money. There is no compensatory incentive.

This is not to cynically say that the only legitimate motive for quality from the unwashed masses is cash. We simply have to understand that most people need to spend their time on activities that will put food on the table, not on self expressive, artsy whims of fancy. Some may have the luxury economically to do both, but most of us do not.

There are also technical barriers. While shooting and editing video is an activity that is well within the technical savvy of more and more people, there is admittedly still a predominant portion of our contemporarium that are not yet up to the entire task; not to mention being up to the frustration of posting that finished production up on the internet for all to see.

What we do see however, is that there is a vast sea of tech capable people now in our culture. These people do take time to shoot random, not so well crafted, moderately well edited, video content. There is really a huge volume of it. With this knowledge, there is a certainty that if the art could be made economically viable, people would try to do better at it. If it were possible to make a living, people would flock to the opportunity and give it their best. I think it safe to say that we haven’t seen the best yet.

In conclusion, may we just say that it should be a goal of programmers and strategists to figure out how to make the art of short episodic streaming video a profitable profession for main street Dick and Jane. Let them in on some of the profit potential and some of the advertising / networking power. Some strategist have been working programmatically on that kind of application. I know this, because I am one of them.

Jeff Rogers is the President and Founder of www.dragnetmarketing.com. He is an online networking strategist who believes that relationships are just as important online as they are face to face. In order to have good relationships one has to give something up to get something back. Mr. Rogers has made it his focus to make the give and take more fluent and utilitarian through his strategies. Get online and on the street tactical advantage with Dragnet Marketing strategies and self managed viral Video Pages.

Building Targeted Media Lists

You have all these great story ideas about your company and its products, you’ve written your press releases with a sure hand and are ready to get the word out. But where do you start? Other than reading the bylines in your local newspaper, you know no journalists. Well, it’s time to start meeting some and begin building relationships with them, just as you would with a new customer or prospective lead.

Building media lists is very much like building your database of key customers or a list of new leads: you must know your audience and your market intimately. First, think about the geographic regions you want to target, based on where your customers and potential customers are. Then, think about the publications of interest to your customers in those regions. It could be a daily newspaper, a local magazine, or even a trade publication. What are the local TV affiliates in these areas? Are there any local community newsletters? Create a master list, then find out the correct contact at each outlet for your type of business story or product area. Sending a release about a new piece of software to the travel editor at the Boston Globe will simply wind up in the circular file. But by learning the name of the technology editor of the business section and finding out how she likes to receive newsworthy information (phone, fax, email, snail mail only), you will be one step closer to having your story heard and considered by the right person.

Where to Find Media Contact Information
There are many free and paid resources available to help you build your media database. Visit your local library for a listing of regional publications or free online sources like political parties (they sometimes have listings). Or use search engines to find specific newspapers, magazines, or local TV stations. Look up the media outlet online. Many of them have specific places on their websites where you can submit your release directly to the publication. There are also paid services like PR Newswire and Vocus that will not only build your lists for you, but handle the distribution as well. These services offer huge master databases housing every publication from The Town Tattler to the New York Times. Gather all the information you can, including the journalist’s name, specific title or department, phone, fax, email, and snail mail address. If possible, determine how the journalist would like to receive information. Some prefer email, others fax, and some still say “write only,” which means if they receive anything other than the old-school press release in a #10 envelopes officially stamped by the United States Post Office, there’s a good chance you’ll never hear from them.

Be sensitive to these folks’ time, too. Calling a reporter to “chat about an idea” while he’s on deadline trying to file a story will not only aggravate him, but will most likely ruin your chances of any story placement in that publication.

Lead Times
If you’re looking for some free publicity for an event, don’t call two days before it’s scheduled to take place to see if the newspaper “could put something in tomorrow’s paper.” Newspapers traditionally work on a three to four week lead-time; magazines anywhere from six to 12 months. TV, sometimes in less than an hour! If your event is on June 12, you’ll want to send out your press release by the middle of May. If your new product launch is slated for fall 2009, start thinking about sending information to magazines by spring/summer 2008.

Understanding the journalists’ world and how they operate is the key to building a successful media list, one that’s juicy with hot contacts and leads looking for the right story to tell. Just remember, developing your media list is like developing your customer list. Get to the heart of what the media want and when they want it – then deliver it! And while a big mass media list covers more territory, your story pitch may not apply to all on the list, reducing your chance for good quality editorial success. But if you have a targeted, well-thought out list that contains up-to-date contacts, there’s a good chance you have the start of some beautiful relationships, which ultimately will garner some fantastic free publicity!

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

Why Blogging is Important to Your Business

In a Business Week article from February 2008, blog tracking firm Technorati Chairman David Sifry said that his company indexed about 112 million blogs, with 120,000 new ones created each day. Were you one of them? He clarified, however, that of those millions, only about 11 percent of them actually included new posts.

Sifry contends that about 99 percent of blogs aren’t delivering useful information (e.g., a mom blogging about her kid’s first day at school, spam blogs), but that still leaves a healthy helping of new blogs sprouting up every day that are gathering readers, fans, and potential leads for the businesses that have committed to using this viral marketing tool. As a blogger, you could (and should) be promoting your business and your ideas to existing customers and employees as well as prospective buyers.

Blogging is not a fad. The phenomenon that Sifry cited is still gaining momentum a year after Sifry quoted those statistics. So, what are you going to do with this valuable information?

If you’re like me, you don’t like to hear yourself talk too much, let alone put your thoughts on paper (or computer screen in this case) for the entire world to see. But isn’t that the point? You want to spread your ideas to build your platform as a resourceful and innovative VAR. Blogs, done correctly, can do this for you.

When blogging started to become popular in 2005, I know I was one of the skeptics who thought, “Who would want to just listen to someone’s random thoughts?” It seemed that blogging was either self-righteous, self-serving, or politically motivated – none of which appealed to me. I deemed this task to be time-consuming and very low on the ROI scale. But now, blogging has gone mainstream. Visit the site for any established company and you’ll likely see a blog page there. You have to ask yourself, if it didn’t work, would they all be investing their time in blogging?

Blogging should be an integral part, if not at the forefront, of your web and marketing mix. Blogs will change your world. Here are a few reasons why you should leap onto the blogging bandwagon:

– Blogging provides a casual way to communicate with your current customers as well as potential new customers. The conversational tone allows you to initiate and engage in a discussion in a very soft-sell manner, where you can showcase your strengths, products, and services without screaming “buy me!”

– The personal touch helps to cultivate relationships that will, in turn, build loyalty between you and your customer.

– A blog where your customers and visitors can interact with you presents the exceptional market research tool to actually learn what your customers need and then use that information to deliver the goods. Your customers are happy because they have found instant solutions, provided by you!

– Blogging involves very minimal investment. Some blogging sites are free; others may charge a fee. Ultimately, though, you want to have your blog on your website to benefit from search engine optimization. The major investment is your time in being vigilant about writing and posting your blogs. Frequency and consistency is key to success here.

– SEO and blogging go hand in hand. Search engines are looking for websites that are constantly being updated with new content and useful information. Be sure to incorporate tags and keywords in a relevant manner. These are simple words that people will use to search your topic on Google or Yahoo! Updating your blog frequently (every two to three days) and creating topical tags will garner a higher search engine ranking.

Statistics show that more and more adults are using the Internet and paying attention to blogs. Consumers use the product reviews from bloggers to assist in their buying decisions. They either bookmark their favorite blogs or receive them daily into their email via RSS feeds. Blogging is an opportunity to reach out to the masses, yet make it personal. It builds credibility about you and your brand and positions you as a thinker, leader and a resource. Your thoughts will become a direct link to increased leads and sales. And in this tough economy, blogging is one of the economical ways to market. You can’t afford not to blog.

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

The Power of Blog Marketing

With the rise of the Internet, blogging has become one the most influential means of communication. People and organizations all over the world are building relatively low budget web sites created as a forum for sharing insights and trading ideas.

In the business world, the method has become an important tool for reaching current and potential customers. Businesses leverage blogging to raise the company profile, as a method for communicating with customers and staff, as a means to generate new ideas, or as a way to improve their image as a forward thinking company, among other reasons. The thoughts contained in a blog can spread like a virus, delivering powerful new ideas to hundreds of thousands of people in minutes.

For these reasons and others, blogging has become a powerful method that businesses can utilize for less time, effort, and cost than with traditional marketing and public relations. This Quick Guide will provide you with some effective techniques for leveraging blog marketing.

Monitor the Buzz
A good way to determine how your company is faring against competitors is to read public forums devoted to the products or technologies you sell. Doing so will help you understand your customers. You’ll quickly learn what disgruntled users and customers (and possibly even former employees) think about your company and the brand without spending a dime on focus groups or research.

Reach out to Bloggers
Marketing professionals familiar with blogging recommend reading all the blogs related to the products you sell. If you start your own company blog, it’s also a good idea to engage in dialog with users and others who regularly post messages. Though some use a Web log simply as a forum to let off steam, their ideas may provide valuable insight that can help you fine tune your messaging and improve customer service. Responding to the blog community is not only a good way to promote your product or brand, it also is an effective method for correcting false or inaccurate information. You can humanize your company with a corporate blog, either by having one or more employees and even upperlevel management personnel such as a CEO contribute to the blog. Companies of all sizes can leverage a blog to open dialog and thus build closer relationships with users and customers.

Advertise on Blogs
Targeting the audience of a blog relevant to the product you sell is a valuable form of advertising. Research shows that blog readers tend to typically read 20 other blogs daily. Thus any messaging aimed at bloggers spreads exponentially, maximizing blog advertising dollars spent.

Vary Your Banner Ads
Since users tend to visit blogs often, it’s important to change banner ad content on a regular basis. Banners and text copy should be relevant to the blog. If you’re starting your own blog, you could try creating a blog topic along with a series of related ads.

Helpful Hints for Creating Your Own Blog
If you’ve decided to develop your own blog, the following basic guidelines will help you create one that people actually read and respond to:

Create Interesting Content
To ensure readers visit your blog and share the information you provide, you must keep them interested. Therefore, it’s essential that you offer useful ideas and content. It’s also important that you develop a unique style. And don’t be shy about posting ideas that others will disagree with. That will only generate more buzz for your blog.

Post Blogs Often
Especially if your blog is popular you need to post comments and updates on a frequent basis. It’s often a good idea to post a minimum of five postings per week. And the more frequently you blog, the more chance that you’ll have in getting your blog listed in the
Google News index which is updated daily.

Don’t Forget About Distribution
Consumers and others new to blogging can have a tough time finding a blog, so it essential that you make it easy for them to find yours. Make it easy for news feed subscribers to locate your blog via web search engines such as Google and Yahoo, and using RSS search engines, including Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Feedster, and Technorati. This will ensure that your blog is well promoted.

Concluding Thoughts
I hope that you enjoyed this article and that it will help you supercharge your marketing effort, leading to increased sales. Thanks for reading!

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

Podcast Marketing

Almost as soon as the original Apple iPod was introduced, people in the marketing profession began to realize the medium’s potential to carry brand and product messaging. Today, podcasting is popular method for communicating corporate information that enables businesses to deliver valuable content to listeners. Because the sound of the human voice carries emotion, the medium can deliver content more effectively than text. In fact, some marketing experts believe that podcasting is more powerful than other marketing media such as direct mail advertising. By developing and incorporating a podcast into their marketing programs, companies can, for example, educate listeners about new and upcoming technologies in their industry, inform customers about soon to be released products, and promote new services. Use the following guidelines for developing your podcast.

Plan Your Attack
Before you even begin to record a podcast, you need to decide what you want to say, what your target market is, and what your call to action will be. At the end of your podcast you may want to point listeners to a specific web URL that will drive sales and measure how many people heard your podcast. You should also develop a script that tells the person doing the voice over exactly what to say. And due to people’s generally short attention span, you should avoid creating a podcast that is longer than 20 to 30 minutes.

Get the Right Tools
To create your podcast you will need a PC and a microphone. Many computers already have microphones built in. But you might want to purchase an echo canceling variety to ensure the highest audio quality of your production. Headphones also are a good idea if you want to hear your recordings played back without hearing extra noise from your surroundings.

You’ll also need software for recording voice such as one of the basic or preloaded programs that came with your PC’s operating system. Or you can purchase a more sophisticated solution that enables you to edit the audio file such as ePodcast Creator or the simple to use and Windows and Mac compatible program Audacity. Audacity is available for free download at audacity.sourceforge.net.

Start Recording
Go the file menu of your program and select New. Test your microphone’s input level and then just click on the record button and begin. If you’re using Audacity, the software saves the recording automatically as an .aup file. However, some programs cannot open this format so you should export your podcast as an .mp3 file after recording.

Upload Your File
After you’re finished with production, you’re ready to upload the .mp3 file to your website or publish it to a blogging service such as Podcasting.com or Apple’s iTunes Podcast Directory. If you want to publish on a regular basis, you’ll need to create an RSS feed. You can do this with an easy to use program such as FeedForAll.

Publicize Your Podcast
To ensure you get a large audience, you should e-mail contacts in your company’s database that your program is available. Include some basic details that will attract their attention. And be sure to include a URL where they can download the podcast. You can also maximize your audience by ensuring your podcast is listed with web search engines such as Google and Yahoo and by using RSS search engines, including Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Feedster, and Technorati.

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)