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Need to Spread Your Message? Let Your Fingers Do the Talking

Are you scrambling for a new way to reach clients? Do you have news that you fear may get buried on your website?

Or are you looking for a new pond to fish in — a way to reach people that your website doesn't normally connect with?

May we suggest a time-tested tool? Have you considered a press release?

Since press releases aren't tethered to your website, they offer the opportunity to showcase your practice beyond the confines of your site. That's good news since it gives you the opportunity to get your name in front of people who otherwise may not know about your practice.

Don't be misled into thinking that press releases, which have been around for decades, are "old news." Today's press releases have been turbocharged for the Internet. Though once intended for only journalists, today's press releases are positioned so that broad groups have access to them, including bloggers, social media mavens, and even consumers.

And though Google has had a love-hate relationship with press releases, they are back in Google's good graces. That means, when press releases are posted online, they are crawled by search engines to later reappear in search results.

But press releases don't just sit around patiently waiting to be found by a friendly search engine. Professional press release services make sure press releases are submitted directly to search engines. They are also placed in media and industry news feeds for editors to see, increasing your chances of being selected for use in a news publication. In addition they are sent directly to journalists, media subscribers, and bloggers for consideration. 

So let's tally this up. Press releases:

1. Are posted so that search engines can crawl and display press releases in search results. (Google posts them in its highly sought after "news" section.)

2. Are blasted to media (including local media) and influential bloggers.

3. Are optimized for "sharing" in social media.

With an expanded audience like this, what's not to like?

But What About the News?

Yes, there's no denying that news is a criteria for any press release. But don't sell yourself short. Though your news may not merit a second glance by The Wall Street Journal, your local media has a more focused perspective in judging news value.

In fact, your hometown media's priority is news with a local connection. That could be you.

Are you supporting a charity event in your hometown? News about the event can help both the charity and you. Have you acquired a new attorney, expanding your expertise in a new practice area, such as cyber crime or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Your press release could inspire a local reporter to write a story about the changing legal landscape and use you as a trusted source.

Insider Tip: Just like other businesses in this economy, newsrooms have to do more with less. Staffing has shrunk, but the news cycle hasn't. Your local media needs - and is looking for - local content.

Ideas for Press Releases

If you are stumped for ideas, think like your target audience of prospective clients: What would they find new and interesting about your practice?

Some starting points:

  • Have you reached a milestone in your practice, such as a practice anniversary or dollar value in settlements and verdicts?
  • Have you been published in a legal journal?
  • Have you expanded your practice's expertise? 
  • Did you get an honor or new accreditation?
  • Has a new attorney joined your practice?
  • Are you supporting a charity or participating in a charity event?
  • Do you offer scholarships for law students?
  • Do you sponsor a community team or support a local event?
  • Have you moved to a new building? Or redesigned your current location?
  • Do you have inspirational stories that could turn into a feature story on a local newscast? 

Just remember: Don't try to pass off a thinly veiled advertisement as news. Ask yourself: Would you read it if it wasn't about your practice?

You should also realize that it's up to each individual editor to decide whether or not to publish your press release.

If you want to improve your chances of being published, it may be wise to consider working with a professional who understands the media you are targeting. As we noted, the news your local newspaper seeks is far different than national publications. In addition, trade and industry journals will have their own take on what's news. 

And, regardless of what editors select, Google will still crawl your press release for display in search results.

Strategy Tip: Chances are your competitors are solely focused on their websites and not taking advantage of press releases.

Press Release Benefits

  • Increase Web Traffic. An optimized press release with a proper linking structure can improve click throughs to your practice. As noted above, Google crawls press releases and displays them in search results. In addition, reputable press release services extend the visibility of press releases by sending them to journalists, media streams, industry feeds, and bloggers.
  • Stay Top of Mind. Seeing news about your practice across the web — not just on your own website — is always a plus. It builds both credibility and visibility.
  • Amplify Your Message Through Social Sharing. A correctly crafted press release is optimized for social sharing, encouraging people to share your news with their friends. This is word of mouth gone digital.
  • Build Trust. When you use a reputable press release service, your press release is included in its halo of credibility. Reputable services put their press releases through a vetting process to ensure the content is trustworthy. This virtual "stamp of approval" builds credibility.
  • Earn Media Mentions. Press releases are sent to journalists and local news media, increasing the potential that reporters will pick up your story and write about it themselves. This "earned" media is where your story enters the stratosphere. Not only is the media attention itself valuable, but links to your website included in stories written by neutral third parties (i.e., reporters) are "virtual gold" in SEO terms.
  • Earn Mentions in the "New" Media. Influential bloggers are also sent press releases, amplifying the chances your press release will spark a story or mention by a blogger. Don't forget: Third-party stories are SEO gold.
  • Provide Validation for Prospective Clients. Press releases provide the additional information today's fact-checking consumer is looking for. A well-crafted press release presents your news in your words and guides prospective clients to additional information on your website. You become more credible to consumers and garner more traffic for your website, all at the same time.

But Take Care!

Because Google is always battling spammers, it's important to follow the correct format for press releases. You need to optimize your press release to get the optimum value out of it, but you don't want to inadvertently trigger a spam penalty.

If you are unsure how to structure your press release, consider partnering with a professional that specializes in online marketing for your industry.

What Next?

Not sure if your topic is newsworthy? Don't have time to write? Many of our clients face the same stumbling blocks. If you need help or advice, please feel free to write or call us.