Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Using News Releases to Promote Books

Today I start my news release campaign for my book, so I'm reviewing David Meerman Scott's recommendations for press releases in his book, "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" (pp. 167-177).

In the past, news releases were sent to the media to try to get articles in newspapers and magazines and spots on radio. Today, there are added benefits:
  • anyone searching the web for key phrases contained in your release might find you.
  • people who requested alerts to these phrases may automatically receive notice of your release.
  • "Each time your news release is posted on another site, such as an online news site, the inbound link from the online news site to your Web site helps to increase the search engine ranking of your site, because the search engines use inbound links as one of the important criteria for their page-ranking algorithms."
  • Having multiple press releases out there lets journalists know that you're active - things are happening with you and your book.
Here are some tips I consolidated from Scott:

1) Send them regularly - not just when you have big news.
2) Make good use of key words that people would use to search for your topic/book.
3) Appeal to buyers - their problems and needs - not just journalists.
4) Encourage them to respond in some way.
5) Include links to appropriate landing pages on your site or blog.
6) Add social media tags (e.g., Technorati, DIGG, to help people find it.
7) Post it simultaneously on your website (e.g., in the "media room" or press section of your author or publisher site). Keep it there as long as it's still appropriate.
8) Send it via a news release distribution service so that you reach hundreds of Websites (including news services like Yahoo!, Google and Lycos) with each release.
9) Topics to write releases about: new takes on old problems, interesting information, award received, speaking at an event, product feature added, white paper published, etc.

Recommended (by Scott) news release distribution services:
I believe that all of these are paid services, where you might pay a couple of hundred bucks to send a release to a certain geographic area (like Atlanta).

I've decided to send the first press release of my book to only free press release services, since I don't think the release of a book is something that the media is interested in (unless it was the latest Harry Potter book). As a guerilla marketer, I don't want to spend money that I'm not reasonably sure will have a pay-off. Thus, I'm primarily doing it for the other reasons listed above, which might not require paid releases.

For free press releases, my publicist, Stephanie Richards, recommends sending each release to all of the following:
Offers a free and paid ($25 per release) option. Free press release contains ads. Paid has premium distribution and claims to increase your website traffic (I assume this means that the release will be posted on sites with a live link back to my site.)
Quotes from their site: "the Nations leading Internet provider of local business intelligence, including news, e-commerce services, business tools, and investment and research resources for small businesses.... "...the nation's only comprehensive business resource tool for large, medium and small businesses."

"dBusinessNews is delivered by email every business morning to a large and affluent readership base made up of over 700,000 subscribers. It has rapidly become the news source of choice for professionals, executives, managers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, civic leaders, government officials, and an extensive network of reporters and news outlets.

dBusinessNews' XML newsfeeds is carried by major news distribution services including the Associated Press, Yahoo, Google, Altavista and 2000+ business web sites."

Their free press releases "receive limited distribution and are not guaranteed to be posted. Links may not be used." The $49 option is recommended for search engine optimization and visibility, distributing to popular newswires like Google News.

The Librarian's News Wire targets librarians.
News Wire Today - "a free press releases & news wire distribution service to corporations, PR agencies, market research, business journalists, freelance writers, news content providers."

I have to sign up for a free subscription to use most of them. I'll post another blog with more specifics, including a link to the press release itself.

[Update: within 3 days of sending the press releases, I've sold 7 books on Amazon. But it's getting hard to know if these sales are due to my latest initiative, or to past initiatives starting to pay off. Last week I also put up three videos on YouTube from my TV appearances and linked them to my book. Perhaps that's paying off as well. Or, perhaps a review came out that I haven't found yet. Harder to say now, as opposed to just after the initial publication three months ago, what's contributing to sales.]

What is your experience with press releases? Any suggestions?