The press release — a PR rep’s best friend. And in the early days it was the best method for businesses to get their message to the media. But in the digital age, the focus has shifted. It has become less about the message and more about the links. Although the press release has become a staple of most medical Internet marketing strategies as a means of easily earning backlinks, a recent comment from Google’s Matt Cutts suggests its time to rethink your efforts.
If you analyze the backlinks of almost any surgeon or dentist you are bound to find a handful of links to press releases in their backlink profile. While some of the releases may be meaningful, most are announcements about redesigned websites, new practice partners, or that shiny, new device they bought for their practice. While these aren’t bad press releases per se, they definitely aren’t going to earn you or your practice much attention from the press.
In most cases these low-level releases are created for one purpose: links. Admittedly, even Plastic Surgery Studios has been responsible for some of these less-than-stellar PR efforts. However a comment from Google’s Matt Cutts in a recent Google Webmaster Help thread suggests these efforts may be in vain. Amidst the discussion about the value of links in a press release, Matt wrote:
“Note: I wouldn’t expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.”
PR With a Purpose
With that said, many would turn their backs on press releases and treat them as a dead medium for online marketing. But what they fail to recognize is that a good, newsworthy press release can earn a practice greater visibility both online and offline, as well as backlinks from outside sources who pick up the press release. But in order for this to happen you have to do something newsworthy that will not only benefit you, but the press and, ultimately, the reader.
Take a step back and think about the newspaper, your local nightly news, or any other media outlet you regularly consume. Then, think about your announcement. Would it interest you if it showed up in your newspaper or nightly newscast? If not, then it’s probably not press release-worthy.
Your website redesign? Probably not newsworthy. Your website redesigned with an exclusive breast implant database that would allow patients to get up-to-date information on breast implant warranties, recalls, and the like directly from implant makers? Now that might be a resource worth talking about.
The search engines are forcing doctors and dentists to, as Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive says, “Do real company sh*t.” Links obtained easily through tactics like press releases, article directories, and the like will be harder and harder to come by. It’s time to focus on doing things that real companies do. Build relationships, add value, and deliver what your patient base asks for.
As with any content, your press release should serve your audience and offer value. Charities, patient events, new offerings exclusive to your region, or any other announcements that will benefit the consumer is what you should aim to use press releases for. You should always ask yourself: “If I were reading this about another business, would I care?” If not, you may want to reconsider.