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Massage Today
January, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 01

Using Press Releases to Help Build Your Practice

By Stephanie Beck

This article is not going to be about how to write a press release because in the May issue of Massage Today, Cary Bayer offered a great lesson in writing a press release. In fact, I would recommend you review his article to understand structurally what a press release would look like when you are ready to type it up.

What I'm going to share with you is strategy; the "why" you should be writing and "how" press releases, when crafted properly, can build your practice. The reason I wanted to share this is because I constantly hear from massage practitioners that they need new ways to get more customers. Press releases can help in multiple ways. They can add more traffic to your website, build your social media status, increase your authority and credibility and increase the ranking for special keywords.

I find there are basically two types of press releases: those primarily for search engine optimization (SEO) and others that are primarily to build authority and credibility for you or your practice. It is always best when creating a press release to add keywords that help your SEO rankings. In fact, if you have read some of my recent articles in Massage Today, you know I have spent a lot of time discussing ranking, building your reputation and backlinking. Keywords are crucial to these processes.

press release - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Sometimes it isn't about keywords, it's about creating authority and credibility for you and your practice. When a customer recommends or refers you or your practice to another person, what is one of the first things most people do? Most of the time, they will enter your name or the name of your practice into the search engines. What will they find? Maybe your personal or business social media profile? Sometimes, it's your website or reviews on other sites, but what if they found press releases from various news sites about you? Imagine the type of impression that would make on a potential customer? This doesn't have to be national news sites either. In fact, you have a stronger chance of the press release staying on the page if you focus on building your creditability and authority locally. You might be thinking, that sounds great, but how do I that? So, let's talk strategy.

Strategy of a Well Written Press Release

A well written press release can be published by any number of highly trafficked news organizations. The key is to provide content that is relevant and valuable to the audience. How do you know if you are writing a great press release? When you are writing, highlight a piece of valuable content. Whether it is a blog post, book launch, recapping an event, an article, adding a new social media site or video, you need to make sure your content is relevant to the readers. In order for you to be able to create a great press release, the content you are basing your press release on will need to do one of five different things:

  1. Offer solutions to problems.
  2. Provide valuable resources (this does not mean you are to sales pitch your products or services).
  3. Be entertaining.
  4. Share a new innovative idea or technique.
  5. Be controversial.

When you are ready to craft your press release, write it as if you are reporting a news story. This means you need to be objective to the content. Even if you were the one who created the original content, separate yourself from it and highlight the benefits without making it personal. Then you have a much greater chance of getting it published by your local, as well as national, news sites.

Types of Topics

You can create a press release around a new or updated product or service as long as the content is focused on benefits only and not a promotional piece to purchase the product or service. You can write several press releases around events. For example, you can send out a press release two to three weeks before the event covering what is happening during the event or send out a special recap after the event in your community. Write a press release when you add a new staff member to your team; just be sure to highlight the value people receive from this addition without making it a sales pitch. You can write about new polices or terms of services you are adding to your practice. For example, let's say you start accepting Care Credit cards at your practice and your press release highlights the benefits for customers in your area.

Still lost? Here are a couple of websites where you can review press releases: www.Examiner.com or www.newswire.net. Both provide you good ideas of what people are talking about and how they are writing them to help inspire ideas and give you some examples.

Controlling Backlinks

The reason why press releases are a powerful strategy for getting traffic is that you can control the backlinks to your website. You can do this by in two ways:

  1. Using keywords in your press release that are related to specific pages of your website.
  2. Having direct links to inner pages within your website.

When you use direct links to an inner page within your site, this is known as deep linking. An example of deep linking would be if you linked to an article on your resources tab or a specific blog post. Basically, you are taking the search engines to a page other than your home page. One of the most common mistakes made by people crafting press releases is when they only link directly to the home page or the general blog page on their website. If the press release is about a specific blog post, be sure to take them directly to that blog post. You need to link directly to the blog post because this is what is relevant to the press release and the easier you make it for the editors of the news sites, the more likely you are to get published.

For example, let's say I'm writing a press release about my blog post, "The Gift of Human Touch" and in the link I use www.srbsolutions.net/blog/. This link will take them to my blog page, but it won't take them directly to the blog post I'm talking about. I would need to use this link: www.srbsolutions.net/1057/the-gift-of-human-touch/ which takes them directly to that post and it would be the most relevant to my press release. When you submit your press releases, you always want to double check your links to ensure they are pointing to the correct reference.

Where to Send Your Press Release

Once you have crafted a great press release, where are you going to send it? There are a number of free press release sites available. Here is a link to a blog post from Mashable that lists more than 20 free press release distribution sites: http://mashable.com/2007/10/19/press-releases/. If you just want one recommendation from this list, I have had good success with PRLog.org. Incidentally, there are more than 120 press release sites you can submit press releases to, some are free and others have costs involved. Depending on how much time you have in your day, you may want to consider outsourcing this type of service.

I have found the free press release sites helpful, however, if you want to have the best success with getting your press releases picked up by news feeds, I recommend www.PRNewswire.com. The paid distribution sites can be cost prohibitive if you aren't using them regularly. Some of the annual memberships seem more expensive, however if you are releasing multiple press releases annually, they are quite affordable. Also, be aware, that marketing experts and firms who have annual subscriptions to these paid distribution sites will sometimes offer specials, discounts or packages for a number of press releases that can save you time, energy and money. Remember, sometimes outsourcing a project can make it more affordable in more ways than one. Perhaps a good strategy that fits into your budget would be for you to handle the submissions to the free sites, but save the paid distribution for those press releases that are going to make the most impact on your practice.

If you are struggling for content and still not sure what to write about, I have another suggestion. This strategy works especially well if you are creating press releases for SEO purposes. I recommend you set up a Google alert for your related keywords. This is a free service, you can register at www.google.com/alerts. Google will email you updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your queries. This is where selecting a narrowed niche of keywords rather than a broad term would be best and not clog your email. For example, I would not use a general term like "massage therapy," even a term like massage therapy in San Diego, might make you crazy. Even terms like "deep tissue massage," "low back pain," or "sports injuries" are way too general. Consult your webmaster or work with a marketing expert to provide you with keyword research for your niche. I wouldn't advise just entering words at random because they may not produce any data for you or provide items that are irrelevant to what you offer in your practice. However, when used effectively, Google alerts can jog your memory or be a good basis for writing a press release.

I have given you a great deal of information about ways to improve upon your press releases or hopefully inspire you to start implementing press releases for your practice. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, then just start with one strategy and commit to one press release a month. Figure out what your goal is: to increase ranking for keywords or have more relevant links for your practice or your name, or both? How are you going to measure it? Be sure that if you are going to add a new strategy, you have a way to measure it so you know that it is working. Follow the outline I provided and review the structure that Carey provided in the May issue. Then try submitting it on the free press site and be consistent with it. Don't just try one time and give up, this is a work in progress, consistency is key, start with just once a month and after three to six months evaluate it. Make adjustments if needed and in no time you should be happy with the results.


Click here for more information about Stephanie Beck.

 

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