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Optimizing For A Non-web-based Company
Posted 18 June 2007 - 03:58 PM
Many of our cheap competitors rely heavily on, let’s say, the placebo effect.
Our fledgling “marketing and pr department”, consisting of me and this venerable and wise gentleman who has many wise ideas but sort of talks very big and very fast so I don't always understand what he means, has this idea (OK, he has this idea) that the way to deal with this market is to dominate the search engines. We need to “accredit” ourselves, he keeps saying, by gaining results in the search engines. I am not entirely sure where he's going with this, but I do admit, it seems to be a pretty good idea.
So the idea is to increase our company’s standings in the search engines for certain keywords, as far as I understand it. If someone searches on certain key terms, some of which are probably fairly unexpected, we want articles that mention our product favorably to come up near the top.
It would also help if these articles did people’s research for them. As it is, we do get a fair number of people calling in to ask questions about our product—and these are very educated people, who have really done their homework. We want to expand the number of people who do this. We want more of our potential customers, in doing the most basic of research, to realize that our product is indeed what they need. Rather than going out and buying something cheap, we want them to realize they need us. So we have to be among the first results in the search engines if people look up products of our type—some of our competitors have very large advertising budgets, and so it’s hard to cut through all that to point out that their products actually produce poison. (This is truth, by the way, not hype.)
Now, I spent a year in 2003-04 building a website and getting it up in the SERPs for a few particular keywords. I got really good at writing copy and using proper link text and clean design. But this is a whole other kettle of fish. So it’s going to take me a bit of research to figure out where to even start.
I have seen other threads on here with online distribution sites for press releases. Is this something that could really help us? We don’t particularly care how our website comes up—we don’t even sell our product, directly, on our website. We just want our articles to come up well. We want people looking for products in our category to find out about our company, and more importantly, find out about the bad things about our competitors.
Will PRweb help? What distribution channels should I seek out? Should I try to focus attention on the issue of our dangerous competitors by sending press releases to news outlets? How should I go about this?
Any suggestions are welcome, as is discussion: I’m just trying to figure out where to start in this.
(man, i missed this smiley.)
Posted 18 June 2007 - 04:26 PM
The problem I have with the big press release distribution services is that, well, they're big. Everybody and his brother submits to them because somehow a few years ago a bunch of companies got the idea that press releases were the ticket to high search engine rankings. The issue is that the releases scroll off the front page pretty fast and once they hit those "inside" pages, they rarely see the light of day again, nor do they bring nearly the "link benefit" that some people seem to think they do.
The problem with getting real media coverage from one of these mega distributors is that there's just so darned much there, it's like hitting the journalists with a firehose of information, which is just plain overwhelming. I've heard good things about the more targeted approach of companies like PR Newswire, but they ain't cheap. On the other hand, one or two prominent news articles could be well worth the price.
Might be interesting to try to get some coverage in your local press. Maybe try to tackle either the public safety issue or the "green" issue (as in, you're not producing poison, as opposed to those other yahoos out there), both of which are pretty hot these days. If you can track down the right editor or reporter and pitch that angle to them ("local company does good") you might be able to get an article out of 'em.
This is good for two reasons: first, the article will remain visible a lot longer than any press release you might submit to the big distribution services. (And if you're lucky, the online version will contain a link to your site, but even if it doesn't, the mention of your company may well bring you additional customers, which is — ultimately — what's it's all about). Second, the article itself may get picked up by a wire service, which could get you in wide distribution probably more quickly than you might otherwise.
This is not to say "don't do press releases at all." They can be useful, for sure, as long as what you "release" has some news value (either "hard" news or personal interest can work).
Here's a true story: my day job company issued a press release a few years ago about an employee fitness "walking challenge" we were running at the time. The marketing manager and I tossed it out there on PRWeb and one or two other "cheap" release services and basically walked away, figuring not much would ever come of it.
Something like a year and a half later, our marketing manager was contacted by a freelance writer who had come across that press release (lord alone knows how). She was writing a story about employee fitness programs and wanted to know if she could interview one or two of our participants. The marketing manager referred her to me. I talked with her, and I ended up getting quoted by name (and our company name mentioned a couple of times as well) in a national news magazine story.
Fast forward another year or so, and I get a call from a fitness director at a well known health and racquet club, who was researching employee fitness programs and had come across that magazine article in their online archives. We had a nice chat and traded a good bit of information. Now, as it happens, he wasn't a potential customer for our products (I did potentially generate some business from him for the people who make the pedometers we use, though), but you get my point.
IMO the key is to get actual press coverage, not just to submit dozens of press releases that never go anywhere. That's why I'm thinking maybe getting some direct relationships going with local reporters and editors might be useful.
If you're working on a PR campaign, you'll also want to make sure you've got a robust "press/media" section on your site. You'll want contact information for a company spokesperson, all your press releases, product information (including hi res photos, datasheets, etc.), company history, (if you can get them) photos and bios of the company's officers, etc. Pretty much try to anticipate any background question a reporter might have about your company and provide the information there.
My initial ideas... out of brainpower now, and it's past time to go home. If more occurs to me later, I'll be back...
Posted 18 June 2007 - 04:38 PM
You could put out press releases, but you could also take a more indirect approach. Since your company appears to be in the know about underlying research, share that knowledge in the form of articles or whitepapers in (1) industry publications (because that gets you established as a *true* authority, and can then use that in promotions and advertising) and (2) publications your customers read (because that gets your company name in front of customers). To make sure this hits the Web (and ultimately, the search engines), target publications that publish online and generally rank well for your industry's keywords.
Basically, if you get your company's name and information on industry-leading Websites, then people will find out about your products.
You could also go the general article distribution route (there are some threads about that somewhere here). Personally, I wouldn't directly bash your competitors in the articles, but compare and contrast product features instead, explaining why some are helpful and some are dangerous.
Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:33 PM
I'm doing that sort of thing very aggressively with my volunteer PR job for the roller derby team, but that's a much easier angle-- I can send out press releases about the public events they hold.
It seems a lot trickier to me to get press for our product.
I do have some ridiculous connections in the local media, though-- my boyfriend is the webmaster for the local alternative newsweekly. He refuses to help me out. Go figure.
It's interesting how indirect your experience proved to be, torka-- I suppose my boss's idea that the more we have out there, the higher the likelihood of someone stumbling across us is.
Hmm... Must chew on this.
I know we're pursuing trade publications-- we also have the advantage that many of the dealers of our products have websites and catalogues, on and offline, so I may be able to get articles placed with them as well.
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