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Wyoming Business Tips for Dec. 18-Dec. 24
December 12, 2011 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Cindy Unger, WBDC business adviser
"What do you know about online press releases? What is the difference between a traditional release and an online release?" Kim, Casper
Press releases have been the primary tool for communicating company news to the media since the first release was composed in 1906, disseminating news about a train wreck in Atlantic City.
Originally, a press release was exactly what the term says -- a release to the press. The purpose of a press release was to get the media to write about you. Now, in addition to the fact that most print media are available digitally, buyers have the ability to read releases directly, assuming that you post on a website or blog.
Journalists also are actively searching online for news and information. According to the 2006 Middleburg/Ross Survey of Media Professionals, 92 percent of journalists went online to find story ideas, with 73 percent specifically researching press releases. Those numbers have undoubtedly increased since the study first appeared. If the media are looking online for news, then you need to be sure that your company news also is online.
The key to writing a successful press release that will bring traffic to your website is including keywords and links that will improve the chances of the information being picked up by search engines. Keywords are the words or phrases that people typically use to search for information on the Internet.
Before writing a news release, you want to determine the keywords that best apply to the information in the release and then use those keywords strategically throughout the text. When you enter the word that best describes what your press release is promoting, the keyword tool will find related words and phrases that are actively being searched.
When you include those keywords that people most frequently search to find your product or service in your copy, you will score well in the search engine results -- more people will find your information. Once your release is posted online, a good way to check your results is to search on the keywords that you intentionally included in the release and see where your post comes up in the search results.
In addition to looking at keywords, search engines also consider the quantity and quality of both outbound and inbound links. Inbound links are important because most websites won't risk losing credibility by linking to a site that does not provide value. The more links from other sites to yours the greater that your site is considered valuable by other Internet users. You also want to link to high quality, highly rated outbound sites.
There are numerous online companies that will distribute your releases to appropriate outlets for reasonable prices. In addition to distributing your search engine optimized press release, businesses should add a press release section to their website. The press release center can serve as a home for supporting material, such as videos and pictures that journalists can easily access.
Don't miss this opportunity to "level the playing field" between your small business and "the big guys." Do your research first -- look at national and local newspapers and magazines. Read what the large corporations are doing. Locally, what your business is doing may be just as important. If you have news, broadcast it.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.