Doing Things That Are Press Worthy

Since search engines aren’t fond of paid linking and social network voting websites are on the decline, publishers have to look for new ways to get attention and links. While it may seem at first glance to be a bit old school, doing things that are “press worthy” are still an effective, legitimate method of getting links.

When I talk about being press worthy, what am I actually talking about? There are a few different options which I’ll take a look at.

Research and Whitepapers

This is probably one of the oldest but still effective methods for getting attention and links. The problem is that doing good, interesting research takes time and energy, and most publishers are looking for a quick, easy hit. What are some examples that I consider good? Look at Trendwatching: every month they put out an in-depth, thoughtful piece of work about a current trend or topic. Yes, it takes a bit of work, but it’s very interesting and extremely link worthy. Another example: OK Cupid put out a post about pictures on dating sites. One of the interesting conclusions they reached was iPhone users typically had more sexual partners than other users. While you can debate the good/bad aspects of the research, there is no denying it’s link worthy.

Unless you have some extremely draconian privacy policy, you should be able to use your internal customer data to come up with something interesting. Just be sure to use it in aggregate and anonymize it so no one is personally identifiable. If you’re an affiliate or ore middleman without customer data, you’ll just have to get creative. Try taking a survey on Facebook giving everyone who fills out the survey a chance to win a prize or gift certifificate. If that doesn’t work, try looking at other related sites for interesting things. For example, if you run a video game site, look at what related items stores recommend with video game purchases. Last year Amazon was recomending the fleshlight (nsfw) to people who where buying World of Warcraft.

Contests and Sweepstakes

Contests and sweepstakes are another well established method of being press worthy. You will have to be careful because contest laws vary wildly, so do some research first. Try to choose a prize that will get users who are interested in your subject. For examole don’t give away an ipad unless you are a website about ipads. Another example: I used to run a reality tv show website. At the beginning of every season of Survivor, we would give away a DVD box set from the previous season.

Reviews and Demo Units

Giving away reviews and demo units is another long standing method of getting press. To be honest this can be a bit of a tight rope walk. Google is perfectly fine with giving out free phones and free google tv service as a press building event. However, I have first hand experience with them profiling SEO’s for the exact same behavior. My advice: avoid the linking issue, don’t bring it up, and let people do what they want on their own. Secondly do not involve an SEO at all.

This type of behavior isn’t reserved for people who make or produce physical goods. Software and service producers can use it as well. You could try randomly giving away free units to people who tweet they would like to try your service.

Discounts and Promo Codes

When you are first starting out one of the quickest ways to get new customers is to offer a discount. It gets people on board and talking about your product or service. A lot of companies will give discounts to people they meet at trade shows or other real world events. If you are physical real world business, services like groupon are another possibility. Just remember there are good and bad aspects of Groupon, so do your homework first.

Controversy and debate

While it does have some negative aspects, picking a fight, making outrageous claims, or starting a debate are all time-tested methods of link building and getting press. You have to be careful here: not everyone can pick a fight and not look like a jerk when it’s over. Additionally you want to be careful about who you pick a fight with because you dont want to come off as a bully.

Sometimes making outrageous claims works and, depending on who you are, you can fool a lot of people. Just be careful how you frame it because you don’t want to come off looking like the boy who cried wolf. You could also ask industry experts to speculate on a new product or future event, put all of their answers into one article, and publish that.

Using Press Releases

When you are doing something press worthy, be sure the press knows about it. Use services like PRWeb, PRleap and others to make sure your efforts get seen. I recently did an interview with Merrick Lozano of PR Leap about getting more out of press releases. When you invest the time, you want to get the most links and attention for your efforts.
photo credit: inju

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