A Great Press Release Gains Media Attention and Valuable One Way Inbound Links

Tips on How to Do a Great Press Release

Many companies use a press release to announce their product, website or special offer to the world. An engaging, informative press release has the potential to reach thousands or even millions of people. The challenge is writing a press release in the format of a news article but maintain the basic aspects of a good sales letter. Editors and reporters seek interesting press releases to fill up their publications.

Submitting a press release to a wire service helps ensures journalists can find information about your product, services or company. A Middleburg/Ross survey shows 98 percent of journalist go online daily and 73 percent of them look for press releases.

A press release should actually announce news. Editors seek information which benefits their readers, typically about a product or service that solves a business problem saves money or provides a new way of doing something.

Gain Media Attention with a Press Release

To gain media attention, focus on pleasing editors and communications professionals. They read hundreds of press releases; to grab their attention using approaches and angles which make your product or service stand out from the competition. When considering what to publish, editors consider the demands of their audience.  Find out what’s popular in the target publications and find a way to connect your press release to a current hot subject.

Press Releases and Search Engine Optimization

Submitting press releases via a wire service is a great way to enhance a search engine optimization plan. After the press release goes out it’s picked up by publications, news organizations and search engine news services such as Google news, which link back to your website. An array of online news portals may also syndicate the content. Also, some social media websites monitor newswire syndication.

The more legitimate links you have pointing to your website the better the search engine rankings. Search engines respond favorably to one way inbound links from relevant websites. These links help a website move higher in search engine results for specific keywords. Also, include a couple of relevant links in the press release to your website.

A press release shouldn’t praise the company. Don’t use words such as “unique,” “revolutionary” or “best” in the press release. Editors prefer testimonials or quotes from customers instead of praise coming from someone representing the company. Write simply and clearly and don’t include jargon.

A Useful Press Release Concept

One approach is stating a problem and writing about a solution. The problem should be a pressing issue of your target audience. Discuss how the benefits of your product or service deal with the stated problem, but take a business approach, don’t make it look like a sales pitch.

Tips for Writing a Press Release:

  • Editors and reporters get bombarded daily with press releases so it’s best to keep it to one page.
  • Include quality keyword rich content and a couple of links to your website.
  • Use a short title and clearly display your news announcement. The title should entice people to read the press release.
  • Grab the reader’s attention, put the important information in the first paragraph; who, what, why, where, when and how. Impress the editors and readers with the first two lines or else they won’t continue to read it. Subsequent paragraphs expand on the important points with more details and relevant information. Don’t jump from subject to subject, stay focused. If appropriate include an image.
  • Link some information in the press release to something else that’s newsworthy. Communications professionals and publishers seek ways to connect your story to something else that’s popular. They’ll appreciate it.
  • Near the end of the press release, but before the “About the company” paragraph inspire the readers to find out more about your products or services with an interesting statistic, a quote, how your product or service ties into a current trend or provide a thought provoking question.
  • Provide details about the company in the “About the company” paragraph but keep it short and don’t use a lot of praise; it turns off editors and journalists.
  • Base the tone of the article on the audience.
  • Provide contact information at the end of the press release.
  • Make sure all the facts in the press release are correct and make sure the press release has no typos. Proof read it several times and have a few staff members proof read it. Errors can easily harm the reputation of a brand.

Send the press release to editors and writers of relevant newspapers, magazines and trade journals and obviously send it out online. Free newswire services such as pr.com and prleap.com are a possibility, however many companies prefer to pay a newswire service such as prweb.com or prnewswire.com to give the press release its best opportunity to gain attention.

An informative, engaging press release, connected to a popular topic easily grabs attention and enhances your search engine rankings.

QR Codes: The Future of Marketing

What to Know About QR Codes

Make room for the next big thing — QR codes. What’s a QR code? It’s essentially a wacky looking, matrix barcode users scan with a camera-enabled smart phone. Scanning the QR code connects the user to a mobile-optimized web page, video or photographs or activates functions such as email, SMS and IM. The free QR codes are simple to produce, distribute and display.

QR codes, also known as Quick Response codes, were invented in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary, Denson-Wave. QR codes are well known in Japan and South Korea. Recently, QR codes have created a buzz among US marketing specialists. In the US, well known companies such as Macy’s, Best Buy and Post Cereals use them to enhance their marketing campaigns.

The Nielsen Company forecasts, by the end of 2011, more than half of all US citizens will own a phone capable of scanning QR codes. The user just needs to add a phone app. QR codes are appearing in major print publications, on buildings and storefronts.  In the US, the demystification of QR codes has a ways to go but it won’t be too long before they’re immediately recognized, understood and scanned by US consumers of all ages, shapes and sizes.

Ways Your Business can Take Advantage of QR Codes

Savvy marketers use QR codes to drive customers to a specific web page. Simply placing a QR code in a print add is not enough. Grab the consumers’ attention with an enticing call-to-action statement placed next to the QR code. For example “scan for a great offer” or “scan to enter to win a prize.”  Don’t harm your brand with a disappointing offer or prize. If you do it right they’ll eagerly come back to your website. Something to think about: Why should the audience take the time to scan my code?

Americans like freebies. Entice consumers to complete your mobile-friendly survey with giveaways. What’s the objective? With their permission, gather their email addresses for additional marketing messages. Surveys can lead to sales.

  • Provide additional company and product information with Quick Response codes on product packages and literature.
  • Use QR codes in print ads to bring traffic to focused information on your website.
  • QR codes linked to videos can help bring your products to life.
  • It’s not common, but some companies design a QR code to automatically dial a predetermined telephone number. Before using this bold marketing technique, think about this: From the consumers’ perspective, what’s in it for me?
  • Linking a QR code to a desirable coupon entices users to scan the code. The coupon is automatically saved on the users’ mobile phone, providing the user an easy way to keep the coupon. They can also provide a copy to friends, aka other consumers.
  • Quick Response codes properly placed in retail stores make it easy for customers to sign up and become part of the store’s social community.
  • You can provide access to user manuals in an array of languages through a QR code link.

Where to Place QR Codes

QR codes can be printed on almost anything. Marketers incorporate QR codes with billboard ads, posters, in-store displays, business cards, contests, print ads, direct mail campaigns, coupons, email marketing etc.

For major events, put your QR codes on all your promotional material such as stickers, flyers, press kits, merchandise tags etc. Use a plug-and-play CMS to update the landing page throughout an event.

Create your own QR codes for free at websites such as at Kaywa.com and rasoftwarefactory.com. Learn how to make attention grabbing, attractive QR codes.

Analytics

Set up your QR code and the associated mobile webpage with analytics. Now you’ll be able to follow and optimize your campaign. You’ll learn how many scans a Quick Response code gained and how long the average user spends at your website. You can measure how advertisements containing QR codes are driving your sales.

Expand Your Social Media Audience

Design a QR code to connect directly to your company’s Twitter stream or Facebook page – it provides users the opportunity to “follow” or “like” your company.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC is a wireless communication technology which lets devices exchange data over distances of about ten centimeters. Google uses a mobile payment system, relying on NFC. Google stated they’re “exploring new ways to enable customers to quickly and easily find information about local businesses from their mobile phones”. Some experts in the field suggest Google will someday push businesses to use NFC for some of their communications.

For now, the QR code is the hot marketing tool. When used effectively, QR codes gain the attention of customers and produce sales. They also help your company maintain a modern image.

Top Tips to Motivate Your Sales Force

How to Motivate Your Sales Staff

Motivating your sales team is not merely a matter of reaching for your wallet and offering more money. In fact, money is one of the less effective predictors of employee success.

Instead, you can reach for a more lasting impact by considering the emotional and psychological factors that drive performance.

Maslow Has the Answer
At college, you may have studied Maslow’s hierarchy in Psych 101; this familiar, colorful triangle demonstrated the fundamental human needs beginning at its base (physiological needs — air, food and water, sleep) and ending at its point (self-actualization, or achieving wisdom).

Near the top of the triangle are two more layers: social needs and esteem needs. Down much lower on the hierarchy comes money, as part of the “safety needs” that include job security and medical insurance.

What does Maslow have to do with closing sales? You can use the hierarchy to get a better handle on motivating your sales team. And because different people are driven by different needs, you will call upon your human resource and managerial skills to recognize the motivators among your staff in these categories:

  • Social needs include the drive to attain friends and belong to a social group. Sales people, who are typically outgoing and gregarious anyway, might respond well to small gestures you make — sending a thank-you card on behalf of the company, showing up with a birthday cake, or granting an invitation to join a new-business strategic team, task force or some other “exclusive” group.
  • Esteem needs are driven by the desire to gain recognition, status, attention and a sense of accomplishment. It’s easy to imagine many sales reps seeking such validation. You can fulfill esteem needs by publicizing a great sale, making promotions publicly known, by interviewing a top performer for the company newsletter or blog, or asking him or her to mentor new employees.
  • Finally, self-actualization refers to those motivated by such intangibles as truth, wisdom and meaning. Few people achieve and maintain this level of awareness in life, much less in business, but if you recognize such traits in a sales rep, you can foster it by enrolling her in special training to grow her skills, by giving him your most challenging customers (and letting him know why he was chosen), or by asking her to assess the entire organization’s sales tactics in pursuit of better results.

Does Money Talk?
So is there still a place for money as a motivator? Yes and no. A bonus or raise can prompt short-term performance, but money on its own is not a long-term motivator, even in a volatile job market. Once a sales rep reaches a comfortable living wage, he or she is less likely to see more money in the same desirable light as, for instance, more responsibility or more recognition.

Say It Right
In any recognition you offer, make your gestures sincere, specific and timely.

  • For instance, “You did a good job today” is a general compliment, while “Denise, you did a good job today addressing that unhappy customer” is specific.
  • Be aware of whether a sales rep desires public recognition — some people don’t. If they appear uncomfortable being the center of attention in a staff meeting, for example, save your praise for a one-on-one meeting.
  • Don’t wait to recognize accomplishment — make recognition a priority, not an afterthought.

Four Great Tactics to Make Social Media Work for You

What to Know About QR Codes

Social media pages form one of the foundations of inbound marketing — they’re where you can post your valuable content, using a call-to-action to drive visitors to your landing page, where they may become qualified leads.

The challenge, of course, is making your social media pages stand out in the crowd.

You can find plenty of social media tips to boost your visibility on the web, but these four give you a range of options that suit your goals and resources.

Make it easy — then, fun. No visitor should have to search around to find your social media pages. Use naming standards for your home pages that make it immediately clear who you are.

Then, have some fun. Categorize your Twitter content — blogs, tweets and videos — with hashtags that engage, inform and contain relevant keywords – like these examples, which actually won “best hashtag” awards! (Note: hashtags are for Twitter or any other platform that allows for “click through.” They do not work on Facebook.)

Look beyond Facebook. While there’s no denying its paradigm-shifting impact on social media and personal relationships, Facebook is highly saturated — to the point where some analysts reported decreases in overall usage and app downloads in 2012.

That doesn’t mean you should shun Facebook, of course — it’s often the first choice for social searches. But you can also consider outlets that may provide a better fit for your services via a smaller, but more influential, audience.

  • For example, LinkedIn is the world’s largest business network for a reason — it’s highly credible, deep platform for making connections. If you are targeting B2B (business to business), some relevant connections from LinkedIn could put you in touch with influential people who may not otherwise pay attention to Facebook pages.
  • If you have B2C (business to consumer) goals and a product or service that is highly image-driven, Pinterest (which recently transitioned from invitation-only to all-access) draws millions of hits daily — particularly from women, who make up nearly 60 percent of its audience.

Find advocates. Most advocates of social media tips would agree: few marketing tactics enhance credibility like kudos from impartial third-party source. Satisfied customers, industry awards and good reviews boost your profile and are easy to link from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social sites.

You can go the extra mile by finding brand advocate — people who promote your products or services, but who are not on your payroll. Your best customer, for example, can star in a blog interview or host a how-to on YouTube. Such tactics would not only boost your credibility, they practically guarantee that the customer will be sharing the content on his networks.

Be a mensch. Not every message on your social site needs to be tied to sales. A company that reaches out to its community or the world at large is often seen as credible and trustworthy.  Use your media to publicize worthy causes; then put your money where your tweets are by donating products, services or money and encouraging others to do the same.

Want to get more personal? “Like” and share great posts from your customers’ pages, or those from your community.

Social Media Tips Can Work for You To Drive Links and Traffic
Yesterday’s marketing tactics have been largely eclipsed by inbound marketing, which reflects the way consumers behave today. Getting the most from social media will help you make your mark in this wide-open environment.

Startup Suicide? Don’t Drink the KoolAid

Startup Suicide? Don't Drink the KoolAid
Startup Suicide? Don’t Drink the KoolAid

The business landscape in America has gone from the Age of Manufacturing to the Age of Information. Now we’ve moved into the Age of the Entrepreneur.

Each year, more individuals choose to forgo the secure paycheck but restrictive environment of the corporate world to strike out on their own. The American Dream has existed as long as our country has, but there’s never been a better time to pursue it.

Forbes says that a staggering 500,000+ new companies emerge each month. But you’ve probably also seen the dark underbelly of this shiny surface. According to Bloomburg, eight out of 10 startup businesses fail within the first 18 months. That stark reality can give even the most passionate entrepreneurs cold feet.

However, saying that these businesses “fail” may not be completely accurate. Inc. estimates that 90 percent of those that don’t survive actually commit suicide. The founder or founders get bored, neglects their homework or succumbs to self-doubt. For these and other reasons, their companies simply don’t go the distance.

Have you been nurturing a great idea or product that you’re ready to bring to life? As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. Knowing the odds of going under can help prevent you from becoming simply one of those statistics.

Before you drink the startup Kool-Aid, review this checklist for some valuable tips to help you become part of the two percent of success stories.

  • Do what you love. If you put money ahead of personal satisfaction, sooner or later it’s going to show through as a lack of sincerity. You’re going to put in an incredible amount of time and effort. Why would you want to do that for something you’re not really invested in? For example, a tech startup may sound exciting and lucrative, but if computers bore you to tears, you’ll be doomed.
  • Have a business plan. Yes, you’ve heard the stories of the hotshots like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs who just jumped right in and made it up as they went along. That’s still the exception, not the rule. You don’t need a comprehensive document that crosses every “t” and dots every “i”. What you do need is a financial blueprint that outlines factors including estimated costs, revenue projections and a break-even point.
  • Know what sets your product or service apart from others. Have you ever watched Shark Tank, the TV show where budding entrepreneurs make their pitch to potential investors? One of the first questions that always comes up is, “What’s different about your company?” The number of businesses entering the marketplace means that competition is tougher than ever. You have to know exactly what need, want or problem your product or service will solve for a customer.
  • Be flexible. Conditions in today’s business world change almost daily. Don’t be so in love with your own vision that you can’t adapt in order to satisfy your customer base or take advantage of a new opportunity.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver. New business owners often get this backwards. They’re so anxious to get those first customers that they promise the moon and get in over their head. If you make modest but solid promises and extend yourself to go the extra mile, you’ll look like a hero.
  • No man (or woman) is an island. Whether due to lack of funds or excess ego, many entrepreneurs try to do everything themselves. No matter how intelligent and capable you are, you’re going to have areas of weakness. Don’t be so proud that you won’t get help where and when it’s needed. You might satisfy your self-esteem, but your startup will pay the price.
  • Don’t be paralyzed by mistakes. Everyone makes them. You will too. What’s important is that you learn from them, readjust your course and keep going. Too many people end up throwing in the towel. Strive for perfection, but don’t give up when you hit those speed bumps.

You can join the ranks of entrepreneurs who make it past that 18-month deadline to build a successful company. Balance your enthusiasm and passion with a clear-eyed sense of reality and you’ll join that two percent.