Promoting Your Online Newsletter

There was an article in a recent issue of The Golden Thread (#160) about using your own e-newsletter to promote yourself. We heard the same suggestion from Roger Parker at last year’s Graphic Design FastTrack Bootcamp.

I found out for myself that it’s a highly profitable and not very difficult strategy to implement. However, once you get over the initial hurdles of starting the newsletter, there’s the all-important matter of promoting it.

I’ve discovered a variety of methods to successfully promote my own newsletter, including:

  • Mentioning it in direct-mail campaigns for my design services;
  • Getting my newsletter articles published on other websites that offer free content to users;
  • Sending press releases to local business journals;
  • Sending press releases to PR Web (www.prweb.com), a service that allows you to publish your release on its site … and then allows hundreds of media outlets – everything from small-town newspapers to national magazines – to pick it up.

Using PR Web is the method I’m going to focus on today.

There are the two simple steps to using PR Web to promote your online newsletter:

  1. Prepare your press release.

    • Keep it short and to the point – 235 words or less.
    • Write a non-dated release so it can be used any time it’s needed.
    • Use a title for the release that targets a specific audience and that lets them know that subscribing to your newsletter is free.
    • Tell potential subscribers in the body of the release that your newsletter gives them simple yet powerful business-building ideas.
    • State that, as a small-business owner yourself, you understand the challenges of running a business.
    • List previous topics you’ve covered in your newsletter so readers get a sense of what they will learn by subscribing.
    • Finally, point them to your website, where they can sign up or read prior issues.
  2. Decide whether to post your release on PR Web for free – or for a fee. (If you pay a fee, you get higher visibility and additional services.)

    Where your release gets listed on PR Web is based on an auction-like procedure. You can bid a certain amount that might get your release listed first that day … unless someone comes along and pays more to publish their release.

    I opted to pay $80, since that’s the minimum amount to get the most extra services (including improved placement on PR Web, keyword search at PR Web, editorial help to fine-tune the release, and statistics about how often the release is accessed).

    Your release remains online until you delete it. But my recommendation is to leave it online even if it becomes old news. That’s an effective way of letting the media know where you have been as an organization.

    The PR Web site includes a full list of all the features you receive at different payment levels. One of the most useful is the PR Web statistics, which give you insight into how to improve your future releases. Among other things, you can see:

    • How many times your release was accessed from the PR Web site and other distribution points. (My first release was accessed 34,610 times.)
    • How many times someone has clicked the "Printer Friendly Version" of your release.
    • How many times your release was picked up by a media outlet. (This doesn’t mean your release will be used, just that it was accessed. In the case of my release, 472 separate media outlets picked it up.)

A word of warning: It could be weeks or months before a media outlet uses your news release. And even those that appear to be happy to run it might choose not to use it at the last minute. But the cost of PR Web makes it a worthwhile effort, since just about any publicity is beneficial.

A few more tips …

  • After using a service like PR Web, do Google searches regularly to help track where your releases end up online.
  • You’ll want to know how subscribers found out about your newsletter. So ask them on your online subscription form or when they contact you to subscribe.

Promoting your newsletter is a long-term commitment. A service like PR Web (there are others like it) is a good, inexpensive way to start.

[Ed. Note: You can view Mike’s newsletter at http://design.mikeklassen.com/.]

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Published: April 4, 2005

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