Great marketing ideas that don't involve press releases

5 alternatives to free press release distribution

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If you have been tempted into using an online press release distribution service (free, or otherwise) then I'm here to warn you about the risks.

Search marketers used pr distribution services to quickly spread "news" and articles of dubious quality around the Web. This lead to a huge increase in targeted backlinks that improved organic traffic listings and PageRank in Google.

Essentially, press release distribution services became a great black-hat SEO strategy that worked well - until Google caught on.

Now that Google has introduced algorithms to tackle this type of spam, in particular, the Penguin algorithm, online press release services are more of a hazard than anything else.

So what are the alternatives?

1. Distribute your own press release

There's nothing wrong with creating a press release. Google has a problem when you use a distribution service that spreads it around, creating piles of duplicate content and spammy backlinks.

But, if you really have something newsworthy, then creating a press release and getting in touch with relevant publishers might still pay dividends.

Of course, it is much harder to network and find contacts in the press (which is why companies prefer to use a distribution service), but once you have made those contacts they will continue to provide value for a long time to come.

You might also consider tailoring your press release on a per-publisher basis - to make the content as relevant as possible. Again, making custom press releases is hard work, but it will increase your chances of being picked up by a news service.

2. Build a mailing list

Email marketing is one of the most effective of all online marketing strategies. And, if you can build and grow a decent, opt-in mailing list, you'll never need to worry about press releases.

Learn how to start your own email marketing campaign and share your news and other relevant content with existing clients and customers.

If you can do a good job of offering valuable and engaging content, the people on your list will do a great job of sharing your newsletter articles around the Web - becoming your own army of online marketers.

What's attractive about this particular option is that there are excellent online email marketing services that save costs and make the process of managing and growing your list quick and easy.

3. Create content

Become proactive about building an awesome online resource for potential and existing clients and customers. Create guides and tutorials, video clips and podcasts that help them achieve what they want. The more you create, the more exposure you'll get.

Building up a solid base of high quality content on your blog or company site takes time and effort, and it is important to offer great quality stuff - otherwise no one will be interested.

But, if you can do that, then the content you create will form the basis of a whole host of other marketing activities - not least of which are email and social media marketing.

There are a few handy tips for corporate bloggers over at our top 5 blogging tips for 2014.

4. Network aggressively

Having an awesome website with lots of great content is often not enough to kick-start buzz and drive sales. Instead, you have to get out there face-to-face with the people who can make a difference for you.

Find out how and where to meet up with influencers in your industry - they could be industry experts, bloggers, business leaders, whoever.

Always dedicate time to meeting the right people and nurturing relationships with them. For example, how many journalists do you know personally? None? It's time to get out there and start meeting and greeting.

The truth of the matter is that 'it's not what you know, it's who you know'. So don't be coy about getting in front of people. It's amazing how easy business can be when you have friends in the right places.

5. Advertise creatively

Instead of spending marketing dollars on press releases, use that cash for something out of the ordinary, away from the mundane. Do something that will attract attention.

For example, you could get creative about your business card. Assuming your doing a decent amount of networking, then a really interesting business card might make the difference between being forgotten and getting that call.

What about branding your vehicle? How about finding a sports team that needs a sponsor? Do something unusual to help your local community.

Find a way to make a difference and get people to take notice. The coverage and buzz you end up generating from doing something fun, helpful, or truly great can catapult your business into the limelight.

What other advertising or marketing strategies would you use in place of a press release service? Share your tips and ideas in the comments.

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