The Press Release, Blogger Outreach And SEO

Digital media has not killed the press release. It is still a useful tool, but you need to know how they should be tailored to various audiences like wire services and social media contacts. Blogs have become an increasing  influence upon public opinion – top blogs can get up to 9000,000 hits a month. As a PR professional, it is important to know how to reach out to these bloggers.

Communicating with bloggers is not the same as communicating with traditional media. Most bloggers who sense you are pushing biased information will turn against you. The first step is to know the blogger you are targeting. Read them and get a sense of what they care about and instead of pushing news to them start a conversation. Establish a relationship first. Start with an interesting news item that may not directly relate to your company.

The main difference in a social media release is that it doesn’t mimic a news story like a traditional release. Instead it provides the components or raw ingredients to put together a story in any format. Shift Communications recommends a template that includes a series of bullets. The bullets are supplemented with a section of quotations from senior executives and provides multimedia elements like the company’s logo, a headshot of the principle and a PDF of key materials. You many also want to include links to podcasts, a downloadable annual report or a PowerPoint presentation. It will also have links to and RSS feeds and Technorati Tags.

Most releases link back to the organization’s main website. It is important to manage that content as well. Content is still king on the web and great content will attract traffic, yet managing web content is an area that tends to be overlooked in many. In your release provide direct links to your website and get noticed on social bookmarking sites.

Releases these days also need to be optimized for SEO. Tips include writing your release around three keywords or phrases that are important to your key audiences. Keywords should be included at the beginning of the headline, in the subhead below the headline and in subheads in the body of the release. These keyword subheads should be sprinkled throughout the release aiming for a keyword density of between 2 and 8 percent. You should also add hyperlinks to help people find related content.

PR writing is creative writing that requires a lot of effort to translate organizational goals into a compelling story for various key audiences. Now you have to sprinkling in specific words at various places? That is challenging but not unlike many of the limitations and challenges PR writers and advertising copywriters face with many of their projects. There is always mandatory information that must be included without sounding out of place or unnatural. When it comes to SEO the reward is optimized releases that help you get ranked in News search engines so the right target audience will find your release. Editors may contact you solely based on your press release being properly optimized and relevant (Cunningham, 2004).

Is the extra effort worth it?

Walk A Mile In Zappos’ New Media Shoes

You can learn a lot from With over $1 billion in sales, it is one of the Web’s fastest growing shopping sites and has built the majority of its brand equity online. Seventy five percent of their sales come from repeat customers, so they have very high levels of customer loyalty.

How do they do it? Over 80 percent of their customers hear about through either word of mouth or online advertising. Print advertising accounts for only 15 percent of their media spend.

It starts with service through their Website. “Powered by Service” means: free shipping both ways, a 365-day return policy, fast fulfillment, and fast delivery. Zappos promotes its toll-free number visibly on the home page and you can talk to someone 24/7 via phone or live chat. They also use their website for customer testimonials.

Zappos also has the Associates Program, which allows online publishers to add a simple text link to their Website advertising’s shoes. They in turn earn referral fees if the link results in a sale. The current referral fee is 12 percent, and the average associate makes about $12 per order. They can choose one of’s banners and link straight to its homepage, recommend specific shoes and add a search box to their Websites.

Zappos also uses search engine marketing (SEM). They buy both generic keywords, such as “shoes” and brand terms, such as ‘”Clarks” on Google and other search engines. Then they uses Web analytics tools to track the sales from each keyword to look at which ones are the most effective.

For retention programs, Zappos sends out e-mails to customers with information about new styles and new brands. Customers also can sign up for specific, targeted mailing lists, depending on their interests. A customer looking for a specific item that is out of stock can sign up to receive an e-mail once it is available. They also have an e-mail newsletter called Shoe Digest, which lets customers talk about shoes with other customers. The opt-in e-newsletter discusses different topics every time, depending on what readers are interested in. also has created a corporate blog that gives an insider view to the company’s culture. This helps with search engine optimization and provides another feedback loop from customers and most recently the company has been using Twitter to build brand equity. The company has 408 employees Tweeting at anytime with 5,681 “followers” signed up to read their Twitter updates.

The really amazing thing is that Zappos does not use coupons, promotions or specials. They don’t want customers to buy from them solely on the basis of price.