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Of course that is a trick question since - as with any properly managed and monitored advertisement or marketing plan - the cost of a Press Release should be referenced as an investment and the associated time should be compared to the dollar value of the time invested by the people writing, posting and hopefully managing and monitoring the release. Based on that direct comparison the "cost" should be reflected as the R.O.I. so, let me re-phrase the question now that I have your attention.

Should a Press Release be handled using any and all available in-house staff with the risk of it getting lost within their general areas of responsibility and the likliehood that the R.O.I. will be comingled with their other shared advertising/marketing plans or should it be handled by a dedicated individual in the dealership focused on it as a branding and marketing tool limited by their experience and available funds to properly compensate them or should it be outsourced to a professional that is singularly focused, experienced and accountable to develop an acceptable R.O.I. to keep their job?

It may sound like I am building in my opinion that it is a specialized role that should be outsourced to a qualified professional but frankly - I am not! I am simply surfacing the question in the hopes that my fellow ADM professionals will share their experience and results using all of the above.

After all, what are friends for!

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In anticipation of too many replies to manage - NOT - I wanted to add another layer to my post of "to outsource, or not to outsource" since basically that is my question.

The expanded question is - how do you monitor the R.O.I. of your Press Release to support the ongoing investment to your dealer or client? The obvious value of the associated long term top of the mind awareness is harder to quantify than other Internet and digital marketing investments since normal site analytics such as those used to monitor R.O.I. on a website, blog based micro-site and banner ad - such as clicks, page visits, time on page, conversion rates etc. - are harder to source. Of course properly embedded links that can be monitored through established means will provide some usable statistics and, similar to banner ads, it has been proven that simple "click" counts do not reflect the proven value of increased top of the mind awareness that banner ads generate as evidenced by industry reports that prove that site hosts who also invest in banner ads experience increased site traffic as an added value realized by the fact that they have their "billboards" on the Internet Super Highway developing top of the mind awareness to supplement their SEO and SEM investments.

My point/question is that in this era of enhanced accountability and reliance on quantifiable R.O.I. analytics that presume to determine what works and what doesn't work to assign budget and media selection how do you support your Press Release investments to your dealer or clients? Frankly, I have my own answers but I am looking to listen and learn before I presume to teach to the qualified and focused ADM members who have already joined this targeted group focused on Press Releases.

After all, what are friends for!
You can also ask, How much does it cost to buy a car? You can buy a Kia or a Rolls Royce. Your goals in life and your budget will determine your options when you buy the car. Ad Agency Online has successfully been using a free press release service and is religious about issuing them on a regular basis and you get great results, but dealers need to understand the value and what the goals should be when using a press release. As the creative force behind www.dealerpressrelease.com we know it is critical to be flexible for our clients.

PR Newswire and Marketwire have been invaluable to my clients in raising the awareness of their projects, people and business strategy. I also use low cost and free sites for clients that want a release on a site so they can legitimize putting it on their own websites.

My dealer clients use press releases to raise their SEO standing, leverage their community projects with slick branded reprints they have in their showrooms, and to tout really special accomplishments.

Writing the release is not as easy as people think. Even if you did great in English Comp 101 there is an art to writing a press release, just as there is an art to selling a vehicle.

My clients usually see their press releases on 100 to 200 of the top highly trafficked media sites in the country. This is the result they want and they find fees of $500 to $1000 very reasonable for great results like these.

Dealers or companies who think they will get the same media exposure using a FREE press release service are just kidding themselves. After all, Phil we need to watch out for our friends.
Hi Mark,

You exemplify why I would recommend the professional option vs. home made Press Releases with the obvious advantages. A professional such as yourself offering quality content and targeted distribution for a flat fee vs. a "car salesperson" trying to copy your product and process whitout diluting their focus on their primary area of responsibility - selling cars - is an easy decision; you win!!

My question is - how do you prove it to a budget challenged dealer who is used to "quantifying" his R.O.I. with all of the standard analytics provided by most online advertising methods? As mentioned, I know what I know about creating a "paper trail" back to a Press Release with properly embedded links and integrated SEO techniques, the value of showing the placement of the Press Releases in relevant online communities, the "hard copy" as a P.O.P. tool and a few other verifiable returns.

My question is - what don't I know??
Phil

The topic of press releases is near and dear to me since I have spent the last two years experimenting with about 20+ press release websites and their impact on search marketing. The key starting point in this discussion is to first determine the goal of the press release.

There are many possible goals, I have just listed a few that come to mind quickly:

1. To be picked up by offline media news
2. To stir controversy or break news
3. To block competitors from Google Page One for valuable keywords
4. To create a basic link from a highly rated website

I have focused my research on numbers 3 and 4 and have found that my opinions conflict with traditional advertising agencies. Most traditional agencies think of a press release in offline terms and the message has to be very important.

I look at the value of owning the first 10 free organic search results in a Google SERP. I want to eliminate competition for certain search phrases for my clients. So my spin on press releases is that they are part of an offsite SEO toolkit. They are not the solution to search dominance, but they are part of the toolkit I use.

Content targeting keyword phrases is the heart of a good SEO strategy. Type into Google "digital dealer conference Nashville" and you will see that 50% of Google page one is dominated by articles that talk about me. That is a direct decision to promote my brand.

Press releases and their impact can vary based on which site you decide to use to publish your press release. Spending more money on expensive press release posts ($300-$700) in most cases do not justify their costs from page one rankings. They may generate more calls or offline copy but a $25 press release can often beat the $700 release.

The ROI is hard to measure unless your website platform has the ability to capture referring URL's when someone completes a lead form. Those platforms that capture referring URL's on all lead forms can demonstrate easily the ROI of press releases. Many releases that I post get anywhere from 500-1,000 visitors and cost about $100 to write and implement.

Dealers that have the right platform in place can spend a few hundred dollars to create and publish a few press releases to determine ROI of this medium within 30-60 days. This goes for any off-site SEO strategies; blogging, car forums, Facebook,. etc.

Dealers need to demand from their website platform vendors to have the ability to track form submissions to the referring URL that drove that consumer session to their website.

A presentation I gave on this subject can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/brianpasch/press-release-seo-strategies

Brian Pasch
Pasch Consulting Group
Thanks Brian,

I agree that conventional automotive advertising agencies don't get it when it comes to the true purpose and value of a Press Release as an Internet marketing media! I share your priority for Press Releases to focus on the SEO elements that they can integrate and dominate. Cutting through the clutter of the WWW requires an understanding of Google's focus on RELEVANCY and a properly structured Press Release can combine relevant copy with best practices in SEO on many levels - most of which you pointed out in your reply, on your other posts on ADM and.of course during your FANTASTIC session at The 7th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition!

I look forward to your joining me on my blog talk radio show on http://adagencyonline.net so I can listen and learn from you and have you teach some of your wisdom to our affiliated automotive advertising agencies

For your confidence that I get it - search Google web for "The 7th Digital Dealer Conference" and note that we share some recognition for our efforts to support the conference - which in turn supports us.

After all, what are friends for!

PS: Here is the link that I just pulled from Google to make it easier for our ADM friends to find us both!

http://www.google.com/search?q=The+7th+Digital+Dealer+Conference&am...
Excellent points Brian...I'm slanted more towards #'s 3 & 4 as well.

Very interesting to see such similar numbers with regards to the range of visitors and the average cost per release.

My (recent) experiences with the traditional agencies is just shocking. Its incredible to hear them talk about their PR efforts and how they plan to get it in front of the news editors...no mention of online distribution strategies, no mention of link strategies/link paths and of course, no inquiries about keywords/anchor text.

Where's the value if that's all they deliver?

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