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Business Changes Covid-19 OPM Communicating Business Changes To Customers Amid COVID-19

As the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have had to change the way they operate. The best way to help customers find accurate information about your business is to make sure they're aware of all changes that affect their experience. Think operating hours, in-store policies and capacity limits, changes to shipping or exchange/return policies, service options for restaurants, etc. These changes may also include positive benefits for customers, such as free online shipping when stores are closed, free food delivery, or virtual appointments and meetings (saves gas!). 

Because people look for information about a business in so many different places, it's important to have a process for communicating across a variety of channels. Follow this 6-step process to quickly and consistently communicate business changes to customers. 

#1 - Update Your Google Business Profile

This is especially important for local businesses, as this is how most people will quickly find your hours, phone number, address, website, reviews, and get one-click directions to you. If your hours change, make the update on your Google listing first and foremost. For restaurants, you can even specify dine-in, curbside pickup, and delivery options that will display right on your Google listing.

#2 - Take To Social Media

Next, announce any changes on your social pages. For critical changes, like changes to operating hours or a new policy requiring masks in your store, pin the announcement to the top of your page.

#3 - Send An Email

Many businesses will agree that email is still their most effective means of communicating with customers. While a general blast to your whole list will suffice, also consider segmenting your lists so that you can communicate business changes only to those customers affected (i.e. one doctor's hours are changing). When customers receive information that is relevant to them, they're more likely to stay engaged and continue opening emails from you. 

#4 - Send A Text

If you use SMS marketing, a quick text is a great way to communicate business changes to customers who have opted into your list. 

#5 - Tell The Media

Use an online press release to communicate your business changes. A press release has several distinct advantages. First, it gives you the platform to provide context. Especially if customers may be inconvenienced, it helps to give your reasoning (i.e. a yoga studio is choosing to remain closed because the owner has a high-risk family member). Next, it may catch the attention of journalists. If your business changes will have a major impact on your community, it may warrant a mention in your local news. We'd go a step further and say that if this is the case, you should proactively reach out to local journalists and share your press release directly. Finally, an online press release has SEO value. If someone searches your company name along with a question, Google may return your press release as a search result. 

#6 - Update Your Website

Update your business hours, policy changes, and anything else your customers need to know on your website. A lot of businesses are using banners on their homepage to communicate policy changes and important notices "Due to COVID-19." This is a great way to quickly get the information on your website without any major changes to your site. 

Online PR Media Is Here To Help!
2020 has thrown us quite a few curveballs, and we've learned to bob and weave and adapt and overcome! Stay connected with your customers and let them know about any business changes that affect them using a variety of channels. If you have any questions about using online press releases, we're here to help!

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5 Advantages of Holiday Season Using Online Press Releases During The Holiday Season

As we round the last corner of the year, it's officially time to start thinking about holiday offers. For most brands, the holiday shopping season kicks off with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, followed by a whirlwind December. And the time to start promoting your holiday offers? Now. We recommend you start gearing up in September by creating content like email campaigns and social media posts, and shoring up your website with conversion marketing strategies like onsite retargeting offers, a streamlined checkout process, and a cart recovery campaign. 

Then, you're ready to hit launch in late October, early November.

While we always recommend a smart mix of communication strategies, including email, social media, in-store, and online promotions, don't forget the value of using online press releases as well. Here are 5 advantages of using press releases during the holiday season. 

#1 - Promote Your Holiday Deals

The primary reason for using a press release is to share your news! Let potential customers know about special offers and promotions, one-day-only shopping events, in-store events and promotions, temporary holiday hours or policies, shipping offers, and anything else that affects their holiday shopping experience. 

#2 - Get In The News

Especially for local and brick and mortar stores, your holiday promotions could have a big impact on your community. If you're hosting an event, like pictures with Santa, attending local pop-up shopping events, or donating a portion of your proceeds to a local charity, try and get your name in the news!

Publishing your press release is the first step. Next, you should share it on your website and social media sites. Finally, you should do some digging to find the contact information for journalists and editors at your local newspapers, community magazines, and television networks and ask them to share your holiday happenings. 

#3 - Boost SEO 

A natural benefit of publishing online press releases is the SEO value they have. A well-written SEO press release that answers a question or solves a problem, that contains strategic anchor text links, and that is optimized for long tail keywords is more likely to rank organically in the search engine results pages. 

#4 - Increase Website Traffic

In addition to your release potentially ranking in the SERPs for keyword searches, online press releases also help drive website traffic directly from the news and media sites where they're syndicated. Online PR Media partners with more than 5,000 news and media sites, and many customers receive 100+ full-page reprints on these reputable outlets. When you upload your press release for distribution, you can choose up to 7 industries that help us decide where to send your news. By choosing relevant industries, your news goes directly to the news and media sites that cover those industries; whose readers consume news just like yours!

This gives you direct access to a previously untapped and unattainable audience that may see your news and visit your website. 

#5 - The Wire Is Quiet In December

Using press releases to share your holiday offers in October and November is pretty common, but December is a slow month for press releases. Why? Maybe because companies are in holiday mode, wrapping up the year and waiting for the New Year to start "working" again. Maybe retailers assume shoppers have already made up their minds by December or they're just too busy with the holiday rush to focus on marketing. 

But December is the perfect time to publish press releases because the wire is quiet. There will be less competition for placement, journalists will be actively looking for stories, and customers will be looking to snag last minute deals. Even online retail giant, Amazon isn't above using press releases to communicate their December promotions! 

Plan Your Holiday Press Strategy Now

There's still plenty of time to incorporate online press releases into your holiday marketing strategy. Need help with writing or selecting a distribution package? Online PR Media is here for you

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Holiday Publicity Ideas Holiday Publicity Ideas For Any Business The end of the year is jam-packed with holiday happenings. Is your business leveraging them to gain publicity? You should! From Halloween through Christmas, there are no shortage of ways to get in front of potential customers that are preparing for the holiday shopping season.    Let's take a look at each month in the fourth quarter and give you some ideas for both online and in-store publicity ideas. Take what works for your business and incorporate the ideas into your holiday marketing strategy!   

October 

  The fall season technically runs until almost Christmas, but October is the month that gets all the attention. Here's how to get on board with the autumnal festivities to drum up some publicity for your business:   Host a contest and give away a pair of football tickets. Americans lovvvvve their fall football. If you can snag some tickets and get the word out about the contest, you will get a slew of entries. This works well for local businesses - real estate agents, insurance agents, attorneys, etc. - where there is a strong college football following or an NFL team that plays nearby. This works for online brands, too! As a prize, just change it up to be a football related item, like a season subscription to the NFL Ticket.    What you get: The contact information of everyone that entered. Add them to your email marketing, direct mail, and other strategies for the upcoming holiday shopping season.    Sponsor a fall festival. Whether a community event or a school's fall festival, there is almost always an option to be a sponsor. Most festival committees offer various levels of sponsorship so that you can select one that fits your marketing budget.    What you get: Your name/logo appears on the festival's website, brochure, signage, etc. Go a step further and host a booth at the festival with fun games where you give out branded prizes or coupons for your upcoming holiday promotions.   Host a trunk-or-treat. Today's parents love the convenient new trunk-or-treat concept. Host an event in your business's parking lot. In addition to candy for the kiddos, create a goodie bag for adults with coupons or an invitation to your holiday sale. For online brands, use offer pop-ups to give visitors a special "treat," or even schedule a trick-or-treat weekend where visitors can find surprise offers throughout your site for X% off, free shipping, etc. Hype it up on social and email beforehand for a good turn out!   What you get: Face-to-face relationship building with parents and an opportunity to put marketing materials in their hands.  

November

  November is when shoppers really start thinking about holiday shopping. Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads and announcements start coming out at the beginning of the month, and consumers are on the lookout for them.    Black Friday pre-sale. This works for both in-store and online retailers. The idea is to entice shoppers in early to beat the rush. Of course, there needs to be a hook. You'll need to make sure your pre-sale prices will be the same as your Black Friday prices. Or, offer a price match guarantee. If shoppers know they won't be able to beat the price, they are more willing to start shopping early.   What you get: Sales instead of window shoppers. At a time when consumers are comparing pricing and preparing for the start of the season, you've convinced them to buy from you with a guarantee that they're getting the best price.   Cyber Monday preview all month long. Shoppers have a love affair with Cyber Monday and the ability to avoid the crowds and shop in their PJs. Start promoting your Cyber Monday deals at the beginning of the month. Each day, post a deal to your social sites, update the banner on your website's homepage, and even consider using popups on product pages letting shoppers know the item is going to be on sale.    What you get: Shoppers scheduling time on your website on Cyber Monday.    Show your customers you appreciate them. Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings, and your paying customers deserve a heartfelt thank you. Take this opportunity for a softer approach - a true gift of gratitude like a free surprise gift (don't promote it!) with every in-store purchase, chocolate or nuts in the mail, a virtual gift card to someplace other than your business (Starbucks, iTunes, etc).    What you get: Recognition as a brand doing right by their customers and increased loyalty. A true gift and note of appreciation will be more memorable than a coupon to spend more money in your store.   

December

  It's crunch time! December is THE busiest shopping season of the month. The National Retail Foundation's annual survey found that consumers planned to
spend more than $1,000 during the 2018 holiday shopping season. How do you get a piece of that action?   Give stuff away. Yes, for free. 'Tis the season! People are already shopping in December, so make the incentives good so that they buy from you and not your competitors. Think free gift card when a customer refers a friend, a free gift with $X purchase, etc.    What you get: The sale. Shoppers are constantly looking for the best deal in December. That's not always the lowest price! Offset their cost with free stuff and they will perceive yours as the best deal.    Host another contest. Make this one fun, festive, and social! Create a branded holiday hashtag and have your social followers go on a themed photo scavenger hunt. The prize should obviously be a fabulous free item, gift card, or some other prize worth working for.    What you get: Social media engagement, contact information of contestants, and a holly jolly good time had by all!   Pictures with Santa. Same idea as your trunk-or-treat event. Get those families back out to your business, hire a (great) Santa, serve hot chocolate and cookies, and maybe even pump in some fake snow! This doesn't need to be a hard sell - it could just be another customer appreciation event to keep your brand in mind. Of course, you could go a step further and hire a photographer with instant print capabilities. The parents' free picture of their adorable kiddos would print with a tearaway coupon at the bottom… just sayin'!   Want to boost holiday sales? Start planning now and you could have more publicity than you know what to do with over the next three months!  

Your Turn!

  What promotions do you do around the holidays to increase sales? Do you start in the fall, or wait until the December shopping season hits?   
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Using Picreel To Get More From Your Press Release Traffic

If you're sharing your company's news using online press releases, then you already understand the benefits and excellent exposure it provides. But what happens when a reader actually comes to your website from your press release? Are you ready and waiting for them? Do you have a clear call to action (what you want them to do on your website), and an easy way for them to do it? 

Planning ahead and setting up dedicated forms and pop-ups can help you get more people to act on your call to action. 

Here's how to do it.

Create Dedicated Landing Pages

A landing page is simply the term for a page on your website that exists for a specific purpose. It is usually not part of your main website navigation. Instead, the URL (web address) is used in ads, emails, and even in press releases to direct visitors to a specific page to learn more about a product or service, fill out a form, or complete some other action. 

Versus just sending visitors to your homepage where they aren't sure where to go or what to do, a landing page has a clear call to action, the information a visitor needs to make a decision, and an easy way to do it. 

Best Practices For Using Landing Pages In Your Press Release

  • Make at least one of your anchor text links in your release go to a dedicated landing page. Ideally, this is around your call to action (i.e. "register for the webinar" which links to your landing page, https://example.com/webinar/).
  • The landing page should have more info that expands on press release topic or call to action (i.e. details of the webinar, how to register, case studies from past customers who have used the strategies from the webinar, etc.).
  • Use a form to collect leads or registrations, but KISS -- Keep It Super Simple! Only collect the information you need. 
  • Make sure the topic of the landing page is relevant to the press release, and most importantly is helpful and valuable to visitors. 

Targeted Pop-Up Offers

Pop-ups can be used separately or in conjunction with landing pages. The advantage of pop-ups is that they can be used anywhere on your website. Picreel also has very specific targeting options that allow you to show pop-ups to visitors based on how long they have been on a page, how far they've scrolled, how many pages they've visited, and a host of other options.

You can also target pop-ups based on where a visitor came from. Yep, even from your press releases!

Our partners over at Online PR Media recently shared a post about using UTM tracking codes in your press releases. It's a feature in Google Analytics that allows you to create a custom code to add to the URL (web address) of one of your website pages. The code allows you to track the link's performance, which effectively also tells you something about the press release's performance. 

It also allows you to customize pop-up offers for people coming to your website from that link. 

Creating A Pop-Up Offer Targeted To Your Press Release

Let's go back to the webinar example and create a pop-up that only displays to the people that click the UTM link from your press release.

In Google Analytics, go to the Campaign URL Builder and enter the parameters for your UTM code. For a webinar signup, the parameters could look something like this:

Website URL: the web address of whatever page on your website you want to link to and track (i.e. https://example.com/webinar/)

Campaign: "marketing-webinar"

Source: "news"

Medium: "press-release"

Content: "nov-19"

Google Analytics will then generate a custom URL with the UTM code. 

Next, head over to your Picreel dashboard and create a new campaign to invite visitors from the press release to sign up for the webinar (we conveniently already have a webinar template, should you ever need one!).

Once you're happy with the design and wording, save your campaign and move on to Target Options. 

Scroll down to Other Options, then expand the "where visitor came from?" section.

Select "referring domain"

Select "is" 

And then paste in your UTM. 

Now, anyone who reads your press release and clicks on your "webinar" link will be directed to your website and shown this uber-specific pop-up offer. 

Imagine the possibilities! With a little forethought and planning, you can get so much more from your press release traffic. 

Get Started With Picreel In Minutes
Ready to see just how much more? Try Picreel for free for 30 days - no obligation and credit card required. For a limited time, we're also offering FREE setup services for new customers. We will setup Picreel on your website, create an offer your customers will love, and launch it on your website. Contact us to learn more or schedule your setup today.

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