Press. Everybody reads news, watches TV, or listens to the radio. Or am I wrong?
I purchased a paid press release submission last week, trying to bring some attention to my story. A press release is a written communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy.
You can find dozens of press release submission providers who promise that your release will reach people sitting in the offices of Washington Post, Boston Globe, or New York Times. News channels, radio stations, TV stations—all of them will get your release, the providers promise.
What’s more, they say your release will be posted on many small websites (small news and media stations), in a section dedicated to press releases.
The owners of these websites will happily publish it (not on the homepage though) since they (falsely) believe that more content equals to more traffic and better revenue.
But do they succeed with this strategy? And will anybody except of the service provider actually benefit from this paid press release submission?
To know whether the service works for you or not, you must know what you try to achieve with it. We tried to achieve the following:
- Gain traffic to our website. We hoped to get some attention; we hoped to catch an eye of the people who read these small news websites, and who might find our release interesting, and click the link to our website that was posted at the end of each article.
- Get attention of the big media that (supposedly) also received the press releases. My arguably interesting true story relates to the US public in more ways than one. And so I thought that some big media might contact me and ask me for an interview, after they found our press release in their mailboxes. (I was naïve as always, but why not to dream? :))
Did the paid press release submission meet our expectations?
From all 160 news sites that published our press release (small websites you’ve probably never heard of), we got only two new visitors (easy to see this with the help of Google Analytics).
It certainly feels nice to get a link from 160 domains. But it is useless. These websites (or at least the press release section they publish) receive very little traffic or no traffic at all. And since nobody read the press release that talked about my story, we couldn’t expect anybody to click the link at the end of the article.
Washington Post, New York Times (and other news media who’d been supposed to get the article) did not contact me either.
I wonder how many press releases land in their mailbox every day? (Can be hundreds considering the number of companies that offer paid press release submissions.) I also wonder if somebody actually monitors these mailboxes. (Most likely not :).)
So we didn’t get any traffic from this campaign. But can we benefit from it in the future?
We can, theoretically, in terms of SEO (search engine optimization). Articles that link back to our website should help us to rank better in Google search results for one of our main keywords, “University of Solitude”. But we would rank for this keyword naturally anyway, so we can’t really considered it a benefit of this campaign.
Press release may seem like a great marketing strategy for a new book. Sales threads with fancy reviews and reasonable pricing can easily convince you to make a purchase, especially if the provider promises a link on Google News, and to outreach the mailboxes of Washington Post reporters.
It doesn’t work that way in reality, however. You will get a fancy report with many articles that really point back to your website. But since nobody reads these articles, they won’t generate any traffic for your book.
Lesson to remember
If you want to get traffic to your book page, you need to promote it on places that have real traffic. A link, or an article, or even a fancy banner on a website that has no traffic is completely useless, doesn’t matter how good it looks.
This week I will try to benefit from the huge traffic of Reddit.com, the 9th most visited website in the United States. You will find more details on this experiment (and results, hopefully better than with the press release :)) in my next post.
- Paid press release submission (or free one for that matter) won’t work well for a new book promotion, and it doesn’t matter how interesting or unique your story is.
- Every time you think about promoting your book, check whether the place where you plan to promote it receives real traffic (alexa.com will help you to find out whether it does)
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. Bad results should not let you down. It’s always better to fail while trying to promote your book, than to just sit and wait whether people somehow find it and read it (what’s not going to happen anyway).
Traffic stats from the last week
That’s it for today. Take care, enjoy the week, and see you with the next update!