Entries from September 2011 ↓

Make Sure Your Press Release Gets Seen

Writing a press release is one thing, making sure it gets read is entirely different.

In the good old days (really, were they good?), you would create your press release and then send it to a few editors of local newspapers and magazines.

The fate of your press release was in their hands – if they liked it, they printed it. If they didn’t, it was consigned to the bin, never to be seen again.

Today, things are a bit different. Now you can distribute your press release to various online services, re-post it on news websites, include it in your own blog and email marketing. Not only that, if people like what they read, they can share it with others.

Before you start jumping round the room with glee, even if you publish it online, your press release will only be seen if it shows up in the search engine results. If you don’t pay close attention to the rules of SEO, you might as well take your chances and send out your press release the old fashioned way.

6 ways to make your press release visible

As a writer, it is up to you to give your press release as much chance as possible to be seen. The following 6 tips will help you achieve this:

1. Keywords

In the online world, there’s no getting away from keyword research. Think about the words and phrases people are most likely to use to search for you.

For example, if you’re a coffee shop in Ipswich, using ‘coffee shop’ is a bit too generic (and you’ll have hot competition to rank well). Choose 2 or 3 keyword phrases that are highly specific to your business. For example, ‘Barney’s coffee shop Ipswich’ includes the company name, what it is and its location.

2. Headline

The headline you choose will also act as your title tag or page title. Therefore, it is vital your primary keyword phrase and company name appear in it (with your keyword phrase at the beginning).

In the world of SEO, it is your title tag that Google reads first because it tells it what your content is about.

3. Short and powerful

Staying with your headline for the moment, Google only displays 65 characters in the title tag (including spaces) so your headline should be no longer than this. Of course, that is easier said than done. Normal practice suggests that a headline between 60 – 80 characters is acceptable, but your keyword phrase must be at the beginning.

4. First paragraph

As you already know, the first paragraph of your press release is vitally important. It should contain the most important and relevant information. Therefore, your primary keyword phrase must appear in the first paragraph.

5. Hyperlinks

The beauty of online press releases is that you can include hyperlinks. By linking your keyword phrase back to your website, you are telling Google that it is a website that contains highly relevant copy. And Google loves that.

6. Newsworthy

This one doesn’t have anything to do with SEO, but it is still very relevant.

Your press release has to be newsworthy. Unlike the old fashioned printed press release, when yours appears online, it’s there forever.

So, if you put something out there that is a thinly veiled advert, you could be seriously damaging your company’s reputation.

One thing you have to remember is that no matter how well you SEO your press release, results won’t happen overnight. Have patience and eventually you will see your press release being picked up in the search results.

Being online, it will remain visible forever, providing you with a potential source of traffic for a long time to come.

Do People Value What You Do?

As a freelance copywriter I spend a lot of time educating potential clients of the value of what I do.

Granted, some may already understand the added value I will bring to their company, but others have just been told they should use a copywriter without really understanding why.

A copywriter can obviously write great marketing copy, but they bring more than that to the table. Because they are not part of your company, they can see your products and services from your customers’ point of view.

That might not sound much, but what it means is that they can write benefits led copy that will resonate with your reader.

Where’s this going?

Well, the other day I came across a job advert. It was advertising a fairly junior position, looking for someone with the following skills:

  • Copywriting
  • PR
  • Events
  • Social media

That is an awful lot of skills. My question is can someone really be an expert in all of these fields to make sure the company achieves the results it wants?

As a copywriter, I can certainly create eye-catching copy that sells. But as for being a PR guru, events expert or a social media expert..?

Granted, I use social media in my business – but I wouldn’t profess to be an expert at it. I dabble in PR for my own purposes – but I don’t have the connections or expertise required to call myself a PR guru. As for events, to be honest I’d be hopeless at that.

Devaluing skills

I can understand why businesses today want to find people who are able to perform multiple tasks. For a start, they only have one salary to pay rather than four.

But lumping together these very different skill sets into one role, in my opinion, devalues the professional copywriters, PR people, events and social media experts out there.

To master all of these disciplines takes time and experience.

They may think they are being rather canny creating such a complex and multidiscipline role, but in reality they are heading for a fall.

By not bringing in experts in each field (either on permanent contracts or on a freelance basis), the company is running the very real risk of not being represented well in any of the fields.

  • Its copy won’t resonate with the reader or sell
  • Its PR efforts are unlikely to generate the coverage they want or need
  • Its events won’t shine
  • Its social media activities won’t generate the buzz they’re looking for

Much of the problem stems from the company not understanding the value and importance of each of these fields.

Yes, we can all write, but writing copy that resonates with the reader, sells to them and with SEO in mind is a tall order.

As with PR, most people can put together a press release, but how many understand how to place it? How many people understand the nuances of getting a company in front of the people it wants to impress and attract?

Most of us dabble in Facebook and Twitter, but how many people understand how to engage with people, how to combine the power of the social media sphere (blogs, Facebook, Twitter and forums) to get the most out of it.

How many people could organise a truly stunning event?

When you look at it that way, you begin to understand the true value of each skill set.

Have your say

If you are a copywriter, PR, event organiser or social media person, what is your take on this?

Do you think it’s possible to find all these skills within one person?

Leave a comment below and let’s get a debate started.


Has Your Call to Action Gone AWOL?

CTA AWOLCreating eye-catching, interesting and relevant copy is not easy.

Whether you write your own in-house, or you hire in a professional copywriter, your copy has to address your reader directly and really sell the benefits of your product or service.

Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve got some stonking copy written. Your website looks amazing and has all the latest social gadgets and gizmos. Your brochures look slick and really grab attention. Even your emails are pretty snazzy.

But you’ve got a problem.

Despite all that, your conversions are really low. Your phone isn’t ringing and rather than your inbox being full of leads, it’s full of junk mail from companies trying to sell you Viagra.

What’s gone wrong?

Your CTA is AWOL

The most probable cause is your Call to Action (CTA), or rather lack of one.

There is an argument that states that your customers are intelligent and will therefore know what you want them to do.

Granted, they are most probably intelligent, but that doesn’t mean they will make contact with you. If you want that to happen, you have to tell them that’s what you want them to do.

A clear, commanding and effective Call to Action is the crowning glory of your copy.

1. Relevant

The first thing to remember is that your CTA must be relevant to your business.

If you want them to sign up for a newsletter, tell them and provide a link so they can do it easily. If you want them to call you, tell them and give them your phone number.

2. Commanding and clear

Don’t make them hunt round your copy for your CTA because they won’t bother. Make sure it stands out and is commanding.

Adding a line such as “It would be really nice, if it’s not too much bother, to hear from you. So if you have time, we’d be grateful if you could perhaps call us at a time that’s convenient to you” is not going to inspire them to pick up the phone.

“Call us on xxxxx”, “register now by clicking here”, “Email us today on xxxx@xxxxx for more information”.

Be commanding and tell them exactly what you want them to do.

3. Make it part of your copy

Your CTA doesn’t have to be left to the end of your web page, brochure or email. You can dot them liberally throughout the text. But make sure they fit the context.

If you randomly add one halfway through a text section it’s going to jar and leave your reader confused. Make sure the content immediately before your CTA leads up to it so it’s a natural progression.

4. Make it visible

You can make your CTA stand out by placing it in bold text and having it as a paragraph on its own. As I mentioned above, don’t feel as though you have to wait until the end before adding it.

If the content allows, add them in several locations so they are always visible to your reader. That way, as soon as they’ve decided they want to make contact, they can without having to hunt round for your details.

The best Calls to Action are:

  • Clear
  • Simple
  • Commanding

Be bold and tell your reader what you want them to do.

Over to you

Take a look at your marketing materials.

Do they all have clear CTAs? If not amend them quickly. If you don’t have a CTA, you’re unlikely to get great conversions.

Facebook – Maximising Its Business Potential With the Facebook Success Summit 2011

A (not so) quiet revolution in marketing has been taking place over the last few years.

Customers are showing they enjoy doing business with companies that have a strong social media presence. They enjoy buying from people they like, know and trust.

What’s the fastest way to generate relationships like those?

Through your Facebook presence.

With over 750 million active users, Facebook has become the place to be in business. In fact, customers are beginning to expect you to have a presence on this phenomenal social media platform.

Because of this, many business have set up pages but without the in depth knowledge they need to leverage them fully.

The Facebook Success Summit 2011

If you’re a regular here on Freelance Copywriter’s Blog, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of SocialMediaExaminer.com.

Facebook is evolving into a one-stop resource for people’s communication needs with new features such as:

  • Cleaner pages
  • Users being given more control over their news feed
  • Emails when someone comments on your page
  • iFrame instead of static FBML
  • The ability to offer deals to people checking in on mobile devices
  • The ability to make Skype calls

It is becoming more and more important to master it if you want to fully utilise it for your business.

Therefore, SocialMediaExaminer have announced their forthcoming Facebook Success Summit 2011.

Due to start on 5th October (running for the entire month) it will help you discover how to attract and engage quality customers with Facebook.  With help and advice from 19 Facebook pros, it is an essential summit for anyone serious about leveraging the power of Facebook for business.

For more information, check out this post on SocialMediaExaminer – Is Your Business Maximising Facebook?

There is a short video there to tell you a bit more about it.

Understanding Copywriting – Who Are You Writing For?

Increase sales with professional copywritingWhen I was growing up, the most annoying thing anyone could say to me was “Ah, but you wouldn’t understand.

As if anything was going to be so difficult I couldn’t even grasp the basics.

Admittedly, had it been something along the lines of Quantum Physics, I doubt I would have understood. But the most irritating thing about that sentence was the assumption that I wouldn’t understand.

Surely, if they explained it clear enough I would.

Where’s this going? Well, copywriting is a funny thing. It involves a skill we all have – the ability to write – and yet, it is something few people can do well.

That’s not to say that if you hired me to write your website copy or brochure copy, I would immediately turn round and tell you that you can’t write the content because you don’t have the relevant skills and that’s why you need me.

If I did, you’d probably show me the door.

So why would you hire me?

Copywriters add value and a whole new perspective

You and I have one major difference (OK, probably more than one, but for this blog post I’m only going to talk about this particular one).

You know your company inside out and I don’t.

Believe it or not, that gives me an advantage.

As a professional copywriter, I add value to your team because I can look at your business and its products/services from your customers’ point of view.

Let me explain.

You already know your products/services and think they are best thing on the market (if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be selling them). You would, without doubt buy them yourself. Therefore, you think all your customers think the same way and would also buy them – why wouldn’t they?

I look at your products from your customers’ view point.  In fact, I become your customer.

From that perspective I can discover the true benefits of your offering. They are not to be confused with their features. Your customers don’t really care how many colours they come in, they want to know how they will:

  • Improve their lives
  • Save them money
  • Save them time
  • Make them more desirable…

By stepping into your customers’ shoes, I see your products as they do. That means, you have to convince me to buy – and I’m not easily convinced.

By throwing every buying objection possible at you, eventually we’ll drill down to the golden benefits that will make your customers say yes.

I will admit that this won’t work on everyone. Customers will constantly hurl buying objections at you. Plus, when it comes down to it, not everyone will want or need your product.

But by placing your customers at the heart of all your marketing materials, you will maximise your sales opportunities.

Over to you

If you normally write your own sales copy, try a copywriter next time.  Compare the results you get and discover why customer-focused sales copy is so important.

Perhaps you’ve already done this and seen an improvement in your conversion rates?

Leave a comment below and share your experiences.