Press Release Writing Seems Easy, But Is It Really?

We’ve started writing press releases again after a several month hiatus. Writing a good press release is a real art and requires a different mind set than either blogging, content writing, or creating marketing content.

Press releases are best written in a third person, objective, informational tone. It is not unusual for me to spend two hours to three hours in writing a press release. The wording has too be dense yet creative, simple yet engaging, and informative and not too self serving.

That being said some of our press releases have really gotten our clients noticed. One press release got one of our client’s a call from a buyer at the Shopping Network, another got a phone call from Inside Edition, and another got an interview in a news piece that was nationally syndicated over 50 television stations on the nightly news.

Not every press release grabs the mainstream media attention, but a well-written press release on a topic that is trending can reap big rewards with free press and news media coverage.

When I write a press release I use the format that PRWeb, my favorite supplier, uses – the who, what, where, when approach. I always use a title, summary, and about closing complete with contact information. I find that that is the most concise and professional format.

Client’s sometimes get confused on press releases. They are not marketing pieces (well not like the typical marketing piece), they are not stories, they are not white papers, and they are not blog posts. Press releases are short pieces that put a newsworthy event in a easy to understand concise format to try to engage the media. I find it important to always have an angle to use as an approach. Sometimes with the right angle you can attract a national news audience.

To check out samples and pricing for our press release writing services I invite you to visit http://www.mccordweb.com/copywriting/press-release.php.

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Google AdWords Trends for April

This is interesting and as I am seeing this over many accounts I felt it warranted a comment. Conversions are very tough to come by so far this month using Google AdWords and nearly non-existent on Yahoo.

I have a feeling that much of this behavior is tied to tax time and feel that things will open back up for advertisers after April 15th, but so far this month and starting at the end of March I have seen a consistent drop in the number of lead conversions.  Yahoo seems to be hit the hardest, but Google AdWords is affected strongly as well.

Click traffic and impression traffic is still good at this point, but people are not buying at this time. AdWords works in cycles with ebbs and flows. It is the advertiser who sticks through the tough and good times that ends up with the best results. So if things are “flat” in your Google AdWords account, take heart other advertisers across many business sectors are experiencing this same trend.

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Google Maps Optimization or Account Crashing?

Just recently one of our clients asked our opinion on a cold call she received with an offer to optimize her Google Maps account for big money. What the business said they would provide was intriguing to me so we agreed that my client would be my “guinea pig”. What I found out is highly interesting and makes me concerned about anyone spending money on Google Maps optimization at this time.

This is what we did to match the same protocol the Google Maps optimization business said they would provide.

  1. I set up a domain name on GoDaddy that was keyword dense and used a term that the client did not place on Google Maps for already. I then pointed the domain to the client’s website and masked the domain so that it appeared that the website had the new domain name.
  2. I set up a GMmail account and tied it to a new Google Maps account. The business was adamant that a GMail account had to be set up as in their words  “Google gave preferential treatment to Google Maps accounts that had a GMail email address”. *I just have to say at this point, that this is bunk. I believe that the business wanted the GMail account so that all interaction with Google Maps would be under their control. I have never seen a situation where Google has preferred an account with a GMail email address over a non GMail address.
  3. I set up a new Google Maps account targeted to highlight the service that the client was not showing for already on Google Maps.
  4. I then did a phone PIN verification with the client to complete the Google Maps set up.

Now it is important to know that this client had excellent Google Maps placement on all terms and locations except for this one term we used. What happened next may warn you to stay away from businesses that are selling Google Maps Optimization.

In about two weeks or maybe even less the new Google Maps account was showing, but what was concerning was that it had taken over the old account. Now, all Google Maps entries were showing our “bogus” URL! In other words the new account superseded all the placement from the old account. That was particularly concerning to me as the URL did not match the URL on the “real” website.

I took immediate action to correct the problem, but what this shows is that if you already have a Google Maps account and you pay an optimization firm to work over your account, you are not adding to what you have, you are replacing what you have. If the tactic has been to create a “bogus” masked domain that is keyword dense then suddenly your website information does not match your domain and the reader cannot bookmark any of your inside pages.

You do not need optimization to place on Google Maps! In fact paying an optimization firm that is going to perform the functions I have detailed may work to hurt you more than help you by diluting your URL , brand, and confusing the customer with two domain names.

I recommend for Google Maps, setting up an account using your legitimate business domain, email, and location. But I do recommend a monthly review of content, update of coupons, addition of new images and in general a “laying on of the hands” on all content there. By keeping your information fresh you can place well on Google Maps.

For businesses that currently do not place well on Google Maps I recommend updating your content and then setting a schedule to update and freshen content weekly to see if you can get improvement this way.

For businesses that are already on Google Maps and place well, don’t mess with anything except to keep your account fresh. To try to optimize an account to boost placement even further using the optimization techniques that I have tried may actually work to harm your account.

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How to Stay Profitable Yet Well Priced

Yes you can operate your business profitably even in a tight economy. The key is to understand your customers and to understand your marketplace. I have found that doing a market analysis is something that is well worth the time and effort before you consider raising your prices.

Several years ago when we restructured our blogging program, I did a market analysis. I priced out seven different blogging firms to identify what they offered, how they offered their services, and what their price structure was. What I found out was that our own services were so far below the market average that we had real room to not only pay our writers more, but to make a sideline business a core business for our firm.

Our approach has always been to offer great service but at an affordable price; one typically below the market average and when I restructured our blogging services I maintained this same model. Although we have had a few price changes and word count changes over the years, we have continued to show strong growth in this sector of our business.

Most recently one adjustment we have made is to move our older blog clients to blogging prices at a higher rate if they were not purchasing writing services for a minimum of three days a week. In this case, several clients have chosen to move back to a three day a week schedule instead of staying at the two day a week schedule at a slightly higher per post rate. Not only does this help the writer with more income and increased productivity, but helps to cover our overhead costs to monitor and manage client blogs with increased income.

By making sure that you provide great value and responsive service and are still priced below your competition you can increase your pricing to improve your own business profitability. Just make sure that you understand your marketplace and have differentiated your services clearly for the consumer so that your desire to improve profitability doesn’t end up chasing away new customers.

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Is Your Organic Position Dropping? What to Do About It

If your organic placement is dropping now’s the time to review what you can do to stop it. First, if you have not updated your home page content in a while and by that I mean in the last two to three months, now’s the time to make some updates. Second, if you don’t routinely add content to your website, by that I mean adding several new pages every month, now’s the time to get blogging.

For the last several clients who have called to find out why their placement on Google.com had changed dramatically, I found that both had not updated their websites in over one year. A website should be a work in progress. New content should be added on a regular basis and the home page should be changed at least once a month or once every two months, even if that only means moving things around. Keeping your website fresh is very important to getting and then keeping good organic placement.

If your website placement has significantly dropped, like from somewhere to nowhere, you may even need to review what keyword phrases you were targeting and see if maybe there are a better matches for your products and services that should be used. It could be that Google has simply arbitrarily decided that the phrase you optimized for is just not a good match to what people will actually be looking for. It could also be that the market place has changed and that a careful review of new possible keyword phrase targets should be done.

I have found that when I start to see my own site dip on my target phrases when I update my home page, change my meta title tag and meta description I can quickly pop back up in the search results. Sometimes as quickly as in seven days on Google.

If organic placement is important to your business, it is important to monitor on a monthly basis where you are on the search phrases on which you have optimized. If you don’t know where you place now, you can not create a plan to improve on your current results.

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Taking Money From Clients by ACH and Wire Transfers

We operate globally and so to keep our costs down we have pretty tight control on our credit card payment processing. To pay us not only must you have a CVV code match with your credit card but an AVS X and Y match. That means that the street name and zip code must match what is on file with your credit card company.

For some global clients this has caused problems when there bank does not support AVS matching. This is where a wire transfer may be preferable. But how is a wire transfer different from an ACH or direct deposit transaction. A wire transfer is done by the paying party – the client. You the business owner supply your bank address, routing number and account number. The payee, the client, then goes to their bank and processes the transfer. The client will typically be assessed a currency transaction charge and other fees. Here in Maryland for me to send a wire transfer my bank charges me $60. For me to receive a wire transfer my bank charges a $12 fee even if the sending party has said they will pay all charges. Wire transfers are safe to do and my bank says that they are one way transactions into my bank account, meaning that the client cannot withdraw money from my account after I have shared my account information.

Now ACH is different. I am very careful who I allow ACH access to my checking account. I have one long term client and my credit card processing companies. With ACH it is possible for a party to remove money from your account tht you have not authorized. I found out however if you as a business report a fraudulent ACH withdraw in two days, you will get your money refunded to you and the bank where the fraudulent charge originated from will have to collect the money back from their client which originated the charge. Good reason if you allow ACH access to your checking to be vigilant in regards to reviewing account transactions daily or every other day.

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