Keys shared in this episode
- Online press releases from Newswire show up on Google News
- Posting press releases is good branding
- Press releases get a lot of readers in comparison to what your blog might get on its own
- Learn to effectively manage your time
Doug Morneau: Well, welcome back to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today, I've got joining me, Doug Brown. He is a press release writing and editing online distribution expert. He has been involved in public relations and Internet marketing for more than 20 years. Doug is currently the editor in chief of Newswire Network. It's a news and press release distribution website. Newswire is a Google partner site.
Doug is also the author of many books and articles, including a best selling book, “How to Write a Great Press Release: A Guide to Creating a Press Release that will be distributed, republished, and read by your target audience”. They currently have over 5,000 writers that have contributed over 25,000 releases on Newswire. Newswire releases have been read over 21 million times in the last 12 months.
Welcome to the show, Doug.
Doug Brown: Hey, thank you, Doug. Always nice to talk to another Doug.
Doug Morneau: Absolutely. For our audience that's not familiar with press releases and kind of what you guys do and the opportunities that are there, did you want to fill in the blanks and share anything that I might have missed the opportunity to work with you and Newswire?
Doug Brown: I think you did a good job, in terms of what Newswire is. If you'd like, I can give you just a really quick overview of what an online press release is, because I don't think everybody really knows what that's all about nowadays.
Doug Morneau: Yeah, that'd be a good place to start.
Doug Brown: Okay, super. I've been in the business for a long time, and let me take you through a little bit of history. Maybe 20 years ago, even 15 years ago, a press release was something that a company published and took or sent to the local newspaper with the idea that they were going to provide facts, the who, what, where, and when, to a reporter that was going to write something about their company, their event. Maybe it was a promotion inside the company, whatever it happened to be. That's kind of what a press release was 20 years ago, or maybe even 15 years ago.
Well, everybody knows kind of what's happened to the newspaper industry, and it's not just here where I am. I used to take three local newspapers, and each of them was an inch thick every morning. Nowadays, one of them is out of business and the other two look like they're the little freebie things that you get at the grocery market, right? They're 20 pages each. The point is, there's just nobody home at the local newspapers anymore.
That whole idea of distributing press releases to reporters that were going to write about you, really kind of fell apart as the print newspaper industry fell apart. It was replaced, and it was replaced by something that was really effective, maybe even more effective. How it's kind of morphed through the years, is again, press releases used to be just a who, what, where and when fact sheets that you'd take to a local reporter, and over the years, they've turned into an article that is written by the company, directly to consumers. You take the job of the reporter on as your own, and now you're able to distribute your own news.
One of the things that facilitated that transition, was the advent of Google News. Google News started in 2005, and it was one of the reasons that newspapers kind of fell apart. A lot of people don't really understand the difference between Google Search and Google News, so let me tell you what that is, and kind of how that has changed the business significantly in the last decade or a little bit more than that now.
Google News started out as just a separate search engine, just like they started out the Image search a few years ago, and different kinds of things. If you go to Google, across the top of your Google page, you can search for different things in Google. You can search on the web, which is what almost everybody does. There are some separate tabs there, and one of the other tabs is Images, one of them is Videos, and the oldest one I believe, is News. Google News search started out as a completely separate search, and that's when we really got going with Newswire as a platform, was to take advantage of that change. We had to apply to Google News to be a Google News Provider.
Google just started amalgamating a lot of different news sites, and putting that together into the search engine. Again, at that point in time, it was a completely different search than the regular Google Search, and that's changed. About five or six years ago, Google started displaying, as you're probably familiar, news searches as well as video searches and image searches and all those things, in their regular web search. Depending on the search term, the first thing that might show up, might be news, or it might be images, or it might be videos or whatever. Just depending on your search term, and Google tries to decide how that works.
The really cool and remaining feature of Google News that is totally different than anything else that Google does, is Google allows you to set alerts in Google News. For example, if I have a blog on dog walking to use kind of a silly example, I can set a news alert in Google for dog walking. Anytime there was a news item from a Google News provider, and again that's still a fairly small number, I think there are about 1,000 sites now that submit to Google News, but that's a small, small fraction of the hundreds of millions of websites that are out there. If I set an alert for Google News, and someone writes an article that hits that alert. So in this example, if someone writes an article on Newswire about dog walking, and somebody's got a blog about dog walking and set a Google News alert, they'll actually get a push notification in their email that there is news about dog walking from Newswire.
That's why Google News access is important and that's why we have a business, is because we're able to push things out to Google News. They show up very highly in regular Google Search, which is just kind of one of the advantages of being kind of a bigger, older website. The stuff shows up really well for search terms in Google News, or in Google.
Our images show up in the image search and all those kind of things. But again, the real important thing is, a press release has changed from something that you would write just the facts and count on another reporter to turn it into a news story for you, to something that a company writes for itself, in its own voice as news and targets directly to the people that it wants to read, whether that's a consumer about a product or a customer about a service, or their own shareholders, or whatever it may be. You write in that voice directly to people, and that's how online press releases have changed and that's what our business is all about, is providing a platform for people to push that news out to Google News and to Google Search on their own behalf.
Doug Morneau: What advice would you give somebody that this is a new concept to them? I'm obviously aware of the concept and a client of yours, and while you were chatting, I went to Google, did a search, and I pulled up Google News, and guess what? The two top things on Google News under my name were the two press releases that I had issued through your service.
Doug Brown: Yeah. Unsurprisingly so, but that's the great thing. Why you would use that as a business is to kind of brand yourself. It's not really marketing so much, as it is branding. No matter who you are, or what business you're in, there's a lot of kind of misinformation that can creep into your … I would love to meet the guy that's really in business that doesn't have someone that's mad at him and have something bad to say about him, whether it's a client or a customer making a fake post, or whatever it is. We all have to control the narrative about ourselves and our businesses. The point is, if you're not writing about yourself and your business, you don't have that chance.
All that's going to be out there sometimes is a bad review, or maybe worse than that, nothing at all about you. You do press releases to control your brand, and people think of a brand as being Pepsi or Coke, but your name is a brand, your business name is certainly a brand. Your challenge is to make that brand mean what you want it to mean, and not what someone else kind of assumes that it should mean, or the bad things that somebody might say about you. Even if you don't have mad customers, you have competitors that are going to go write crap about you or whatever. That's the challenge, is to control the brand and control what someone finds about you when they search for you.
That can be reputation management to some extent, that's one way to look at it. Reputation management doesn't always mean covering up a felony conviction, it's just managing what people find about you when they look for you on the web.
Doug Morneau: Yeah, and that's the note I had made there. When you were talking with reputation management and saying that the issue is that you need to do this before you have a problem. I've looked at businesses and seminar guys and online guys, and often you'll type in and I'm not going to give a shout out to the brand who often writes people up, but there is a big brand in the US that writes people up, or allows people to put extremely negative posts. You're right, it's too late by the time the post gets to you. You really need to be a little bit proactive and make sure there's good content out there that represents you and your brand in advance of it.
We've typically seen clients in many businesses where competitors will go in and post on the blog or post to social media, and just write a really crappy review. My client looks and he goes, “I've never done business with this person before. I have no idea who they are, yet they've just totally trash talked them, and now it's stuck at number one or number two on Google.”
Doug Brown: Yeah, it just happens, and unfortunately that's … I don't even know how to react emotionally to that kind of stuff because it's horrible and it stinks, but it is the world we live in, and I don't know what you do about it. You certainly can't muffle free speech. That's not what we're in favour of. Yeah, it's a fact of life that you name the website and there's a lot of them out there, that allow bad stuff. Even Google doesn't police the reviews necessarily, that people put on there. You don't want to wait until there's a bad review. You don't want to wait until somebody writes you up on one of these bad sites. You just want to create content about yourself and in different places. It's great to do it on your website, and that's obviously your first spot that you should be doing it, but you have to spread it out a little bit. You have to maintain it.
One of the things that people ask about a lot, or they react to, they say, “I just don't have any news. There's nothing going on.” That's just not true. You just don't understand what news is if you think that's the truth. It doesn't have to be earth-shaking, right? It has to be consistent and it has to be voluminous. You need to put stuff out there, even if it's somewhat mundane, you're better off having somebody find an article about your company that says you promoted Jill Smith to Second Vice President of Paper Clips than having them read something bad that's written by your competitors.
Obviously, that was a horrible example, and I just want to apologize for that.
Doug Morneau: No, but I get your point. What you're saying is that the traditional sense of news, where it had to be an earth-shattering story for the Globe and Mail, or the Wall Street Journal to call you up and interview you. That's a different paradigm, a different time. This is about writing, “Hey, we built a new website, we've launched some new social media initiatives, we've added some new staff, we've changed offices, we've whatever.” There's lots of information about the company where you can write a good feel-good story that's truthful and it's showing that your company's advancing or making some changes, whether they're internal or they're significant or not.
Doug Brown: Thank you. Better said than I could have said it myself. That is exactly the idea, and that's one of the things I've seen you do really well. Yes, that's the idea, is to make sure that there is kind of a constant drip of stuff that just paints a positive light about you. It does not have to be earth-shaking, and when you have the earth-shaking stuff, great! You build an audience for it, but it's important to be consistent about just semi-important stuff, rather than being silent and waiting for the home run.
Doug Morneau: The other thing is, in these days you don't have to look very far to see an endless stream of articles that are talking about like two topics. One is SEO, but the other one is content marketing. If you think of how many businesses that are listening to that are part of our audience that are bloggers, I think there's an opportunity every time you write a blog post or even if you want to do a press release with you once a week and cover a couple blog posts. Just share that, because it gives you deep SEO like you said, it's a feel-good story. You're repurposing the content, and you've got a great opportunity.
The same with the podcasts, and that's why we've obviously started doing more press releases with you for the podcast. I'm involved in a number of online groups with Podcaster's Paradise and other [inaudible 00:15:02] groups, and the biggest conversation I see where people are struggling, is they're struggling with their marketing, and they're struggling to get listeners, and they're struggling to build an audience. I'm thinking, “Well, if you're doing two podcasts a week, well that sounds like two press releases a week to me.”
Doug Brown: Yeah, a typical press release on Newswire will get read a minimum of three to 500 times, and if it's interesting and gets shared, it can be 10,000 or 50,000 times. Even on the low end, if you're putting 200 new eyeballs or 300 new eyeballs on an announcement that you can have John Smith on for a podcast next week, hey, that's 200 new eyeballs, right? That's kind of a proactive thing, let alone the idea when somebody now Googles your name, they say, “Wow! There are 15 things here about the last 15 podcasts that they've done. This must be an important podcaster.” You know what I'm saying?
It just builds your brand in addition to the SEO stuff and all that great … There's just no reason not to do it, you know what I mean? It's not really expensive, you should be creating content anyway. One of the things that I see people do a lot of times, is they've done a blog post that they kinda like. Well, then write up a press release about it and link it back to the blog post. Give kind of an outline of what's there, and link someone back to your blog post. Man, talk about a way to up the traffic to your site and amplify your message. It's kind of a no-brainer.
Doug Morneau: Well, while you were chatting there, I pulled up my account. I've done one, two, three, four, five press releases with you guys just for my new podcast, and I think the lowest number of viewers I had on the first press release was 2,036.
Doug Brown: There you go! Yeah.
Doug Morneau: What would that cost me in pay per click to get 2,036 people that were interested in learning about a brand new marketing podcast?
Doug Brown: It'd be cost-prohibitive, obviously. If you were paying two bucks a click, which is kind of the cheapest thing you can ever get nowadays. I mean, a buck fifty or whatever for an hour, whatever, is prohibitive, right? It's not a substitute for whatever your funnel is. I don't want to tell people not to do pay per click, but it's definitely a way that you can augment, build brand, and get traffic at a fraction of the cost of a lot of other things.
Doug Morneau: Yeah, I just think it's part of your marketing mix. The whole idea of working smart and repurposing content. This is just another distribution channel for content that you're already producing, so it's not like a brand new job that's like, “Oh, we have to create all this content.” You're already creating it, just get out there and share it.
Doug Brown: That's right. Conversely, if you're not creating it, get on UpWork or one of the writing sites and pay 15 bucks a release for it.
Doug Morneau: Yeah. There's really no excuse.
Doug Brown: There's no excuse.
Doug Morneau: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about [inaudible 00:18:23] the press releases and how the press releases get picked up, because I've looked at some of the data and I see that there's obviously a number of news sites that pick these up and through RSS feeds, and I'm sure online press releases are new to people. The fact that they get picked up by news outlets on the RSS feeds is probably a new idea, as well.
Doug Brown: Yeah, so let me clarify that a little bit. A couple things happen when we put news releases out there. We have approximately 150 categories on Newswire, and you choose the category that's most appropriate for you, and then there are people that just republish based on those categories. So if you have a website about dog walking, I hate to use that stupid example again, but you might set an RSS feed to that channel on Newswire, so that every time we write something it comes to your blog, and then most people have a way on their blog where they put that it, and then look at it before they publish it so they don't just automatically publish. They can now publish with a click, rather than having to go out and curate news.
Then on the other hand, like we talked about before, some people will just have a word set, so even though they don't even know that we exist potentially, they get an alert from Google, and so they republish based on the alert they've got. Then we have some other partners that just republish some of the stuff we have on a regular basis, so all sorts of combinations of things, but you usually get republished dozens or even 100 times, or maybe even more than that. There's good SEO in that, so you get your story spread around when you do a press release.
Doug Morneau: Right. So just to be clear, that's other news outlets that are picking up your press release and hosting it on their website?
Doug Brown: Yeah. Wall Street Journal doesn't do that for us, don't get me wrong. What mostly these are, are little sites that are niche related, trying to republish and put Google AdWords on it or whatever their [inaudible 00:20:34] model is. They just crack them out there, and sometimes they write their own original stuff and use our stuff to supplement. There are all sorts of different kinds of people that would do that for all sorts of different kinds of reasons. It's just a free benefit when you write a press release, is what it boils down to. Or maybe it's lots of reasons to write a press release, maybe that's better to say.
Doug Morneau: There you go, yeah. I think that's just a hidden opportunity and I look at the clipping files, when you look at the Miami Herald and Ask and Daily Herald, and it goes on lists and lists and lists as I was looking through this report, and I'm thinking, “That's a lot of people. There are 380 different websites that picked up that press release and posted it through their RSS feed on their site.
Doug Brown: Pretty impressive, right? That's how you get a couple thousand reads on something that you may not have gotten anything on if it was just on your blog, you know what I mean?
Doug Morneau Yeah. What do you think the biggest myth it? You've got entrepreneurs and business owners listening to this and then thinking, “Man, I can't do this.” What do you think is holding them back?
Doug Brown: I think that unfortunately, and I'm a victim of this and I don't know if you are, but most of us are, and that is we get caught up working in our business instead of on our business.
Doug Morneau: All the time.
Doug Brown: Even though we can come away from a little podcast like this and say, “Man. I need to do that.” The next thing that happens for the next 12 hours, is you're working on Photoshop trying to make a better picture of your next product, or your whatever it is. I get it because I am as guilty as anybody, but sometimes it's just hard to implement the things we need to implement because we get so caught up in the forest that we can't see the trees. Does that …
Doug Morneau: Yeah, fair enough. That's definitely I think we're all victim of that. One of the books I'm reading is called The Slight Edge, and I'm just about finished, and I really enjoyed it, because what he shares in the book, is he says that it's just doing the little things every day.
Doug Brown: Yeah.
Doug Morneau: The problem with doing the little things every day, is it's easy to do them or it's easy not to do them.
Doug Brown: So, I know this isn't really kind of why you have me on, but I'll just give you a little confession and give you my solution for it. That is, I'm not a school-aged kid anymore by a long ways, but if I were, I'd probably be diagnosed as ADD, right? In my day, they call it multi-tasking.
Doug Morneau: Yeah.
Doug Brown: I'm a great multi-tasker, but the point of multi-tasking is that sometimes that ends up being no tasking. Let me give you my little life hack that has worked for me, that has helped me kind of get through that. That is I keep a little pad of paper on my desk all the time, and the first thing I do in the morning is I write down the tasks that I want to accomplish today, that I need to accomplish today. I try and make it kind of prioritized as I go through it, or as soon as I do it, I prioritize them. I put a time limit by every one of those things, and I say, “I'm going to do the first thing for one hour” and I enforce to myself the idea that I'm not going to do number two until number one is done, or the house is passed.
I just tick that off, and then I permit myself to do something else. That's how I manage my days a little better as somebody that is a chronic multi-tasker. I just kind of force the discipline on myself to say, “This is what I'm going to do first, and I'm not going to do number three, even though number three might be calling to me all day long, I'm not going to do number three until number one and number two are done.”
Doug Morneau: No, that's a great tip. I read a book by Bryan Tracy this year, called Eat That Frog. I started reading the book, and I thought, “Oh, man. This is a super lightweight, fluffy book” and then when I read through it, and I got to the end, I thought, “There was some really valuable information on how to do that.” His tip was basically the same thing, it's to eat the frog. What's the biggest, ugliest task you've got to do for the day? Just do it at the beginning, get it over with, and don't shift gears. Don't do something else until that task is done.
Doug Brown: Yeah, and I've found that if I do that, I really get a lot more done because what I'll do, if I don't enforce it to myself, is I'll be sitting here doing something, and I'll go, “Oh, my gosh. That needs to be addressed.” So I'll quit what I was doing, and do that. Now what I do, is I just put it on my list, and so if I don't get to it today, I get to it tomorrow or whatever, but it doesn't change the fact that I finish number one before I go to number two and number three, and so on.
I'll give you one more little life hack that works for me again, a chronic multi-tasker or ADD guy, or whatever it is. If I have reoccurring things every week, and especially worrying things like I've got … This can be personal things as well as business things. If I've got some big thing that I need to worry about and fix, a lot of times those things will pop into your mind all day long, and you'll go, “Man, I really have a problem with my daughter and I need to figure out here discipline thing” or whatever it is that keeps whacking into your head.
If you've got a reoccurring problem like that, that you need to deal with, I strongly encourage you to set a fixed time every week to worry about that long-term problem. So you say, “Okay, on Wednesdays from six am till eight am, I'm going to work on my taxes.” If that's a problem for you or whatever it is. So when your daughter or your taxes or your marriage, or whatever pops in your mind, you just can mentally say, “All right, I don't have to worry about that now because I have two hours set aside on Wednesday to worry about that.” So I can just turn it off and say, “I'm going to deal with it during that time” and you can put things off. It'll keep things from clogging your mind up if you could slot them into a regular time frame, you go, “Yeah, that's my time that I worry about that issue. It's not that time, and so I'm going to get back to my task at hand, and worry about that then.”
Again, I am positive that's not why you had me on today, but since I'm an ADD guy and there's a lot of people that probably have, and I think that those are my two great life hacks that kind of enabled me to get more stuff done, rather than just be spread and multi-tasking all day every day.
Doug Morneau: What I find with a lot of clients, is that they are so focused on doing everything 150% right, and I was that way for a really long time. When I rebranded and launched our website, I said to the guy, “Let's not put it on a dead server. Let's just put it live, and just let's get it done.” But if you took that same approach to marketing your business and stopped hiding and not doing sales things because you're busy redoing your graphic, and just use the graphic that you've got, and make it better later. To apply it to your services, if I said, “Okay. I don't have lots of time, but I'll allocate 30 minutes once a week to take up my blog post that I've just published, and write a press release.”
30 minutes once a week, and stick it in your calendar, is not an overwhelming goal. It's not going to keep you up at night thinking, “Man, on Friday morning I've got from 8:30 to 9:00 to write this press release so I can have it out on Monday.” Like you said, put it down, write it down, put it in your calendar and guess what? Week after week after week, out goes a press release.
Doug Brown: From Newswire's point of view, I can tell you a really good example` of how that works for me around here. We have a lot of training videos and that kind of thing up. I'll look at a video and go, “You know, that video sucks or it's outdated, or it doesn't really say what I want it to say.” I'll worry about that, and then in the middle of the day I'll say, “Okay, I'm going to re-script and rewrite that.” Well, that's stupid! That's the kind of thing that we all end up doing, or at least a lot of people like me end up doing.
Where a better way to go about it, is to say, “Alright, I've got 50 hours I'm going to work in a week, or 30 hours or whatever it is. I'm going to dedicate two hours to my sales material, or my graphics, or my this, or my that, or my website” or whatever it is. So next time you are playing around in your website, doing something completely different and you go, “Dude, that page sucks” or “That graphic sucks,” put it on your list for next Wednesday at that eight in the morning, when you work on your website for two hours.
Doug Morneau: Yeah, get it done. I have a post-it note on my computer that says, “Always milk the cows before building the farm.”
Doug Brown: There you go.
Doug Morneau: So it's like, “Why are we in business?”
So let's keep moving along. I know we've all got stuff to get back to today, and that information is great. If you can't allocate time and you can't manage your time and your tasks effectively, taking on something new like this is going to be, “Oh, no. One more thing to do.”
Doug Brown: Obviously that's where we started on that conversation. The answer is you do need to be doing this, make press releases the half hour from 4:30 to 5:00 on Monday afternoon or whatever, but just make yourself a schedule and stick to it. Make sure that all the little important pieces that you have to do for your business, happen like that. Otherwise, you end up working in your business, meaning you're dealing with the customer thing, or you're dealing with whatever the heck it is, rather than improving your business by working on your business. Press releases are definitely a working on your business kind of a thing, where you just need to find time to do that and a lot of times that means allocating the time.
Doug Morneau: You've got two ways to do that, right? There's a self-publish option where you can write it yourself, or there's a paid for version where one of your writers will create it.
Doug Brown: Yes. That's one of the things that we do to kind of alleviate that pain, is we've got a way where you can just go in and outline what you want to be done, what the event is, or give us a brief outline of what it is. We can take it from there, so you just get some regular publication going.
Doug Morneau: There you go. So simple. Who's one guest you think we should have on the podcast?
Doug Brown: Oh. Abraham Lincoln. You think he's available?
Doug Morneau: Not through conventional means.
Doug Brown: Oh, let's see. I don't know.
There are so many people that have great points of view, I just love listening to your podcast and others like that. Again, I think that that's one of the things you can classify as working on your business rather than in your business. You gotta have some perspective, and so how I work that in, is I listen to podcasts. I walk every morning for an hour, and I listen to podcasts while I do that. It's just one of those things that keeps me grounded, keeps me from getting lost inside of my little world, and it's just an important thing to do.
So many people have great perspectives.
Doug Morneau: Yeah, absolutely. What's the best way for people to get ahold of you guys?
Doug Brown: Go to our site, newswire.net, or I answer my own emails. It's [email protected], so pretty easy.
Doug Morneau: That's crazy there's a few people like that, that answer your own emails. I love it. I heard John Lee Dumas, who obviously he's a big podcaster, speaking in the Philippines once, and he was talking about different ways to grow your business. He was, I think referring to social media more specifically, but he said, “Do some stuff that's not scalable.” Obviously, answering your own emails isn't scalable, but it's always a pleasure to the people that sent an email and actually have the person you've addressed it to you respond back to you.
Doug Brown: Yeah, I'll quickly delegate tasks out of my emails, but I tell people in my response, “Hey, I'm going to have Julie respond back to you on that. Thanks for the input.” Or whatever it happens to be. Again, that's one of my allocated time things. It's not my first thing, by the way, because it can kill you. Every day, I have an allocated time, and I actually do it during my lunch hour, where I go through and answer all of my emails.
Doug Morneau: There you go. We'll part with a tip. So, for those of you that are listening and you're thinking, “Hey, I don't have anything to write about.” I'll share something that I did with Doug and it's a little bit tongue in cheek, but my marketing approach tends to be a bit more aggressive. I published my very first press release regarding my podcast, was the Top 10 Business and Marketing podcasts to listen to, and it shouldn't be surprising that I listed my own podcast along with the names of Tim Ferris and Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas. That press release got over 2,300 people view it, and it was a pretty simple press release to put out, so there's really no excuse. You could do your top ten list, fill in your business name, and have a press release out this afternoon.
I want to thank Doug for taking time out of his day to join us, and to share some insights on press releases and how they work, and some time management stuff to make sure that you've set aside time to get your marketing done. If you check back on the website, on the DougMorneau.com website, you'll see all the show notes. We'll have them transcribed, and a link to both Newswire and to Doug's email there. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Doug Brown: Thank you, Doug. I really appreciate the chance to talk with you and your listeners, and I hope to hear from you guys. If you don't do press releases through us, do it through somebody else. It's an important part of your business.
Doug Morneau: Absolutely. Thanks so much.
Doug Brown’s email: [email protected]