Power to the press release

Press releases, when they actually contain news, remain a powerful tool, even in the era of blogs.

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SearchEngineWatch has an intriguing article about search engine optimization (SEO) for PR purposes. The article, by Catherine Seda (author of “Search Engine Advertising”) covers a variety of ways to enhance public relations efforts by making content easier to find. Wal-Mart, for example, created a landing page dealing with its anti-unionization efforts and enhanced it so a Google search on the topic ranked it as the number two page dealing with the company’s anti-union stance.

What attracted my attention, though, was the reference to press releases, those venerable PR tools so often misused and so frequently maligned. When they actually contain news and are thought through, though, press releases remain a powerful tool, even in the era of blogs that so many people think can serve as a total press release replacement. SEO-PR President Greg Jarboe, interviewed in the article, pointed to two instances when press releases generated jaw-dropping results. In one case, Southwest Airlines introduced new low fares in a press release that produced $1 million in ticket sales. In another, Verizon saw a 438 percent increase in the number of searches for “florists” on its Web site after the company issued a press release about a Valentine’s Day offer.

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