By Brian Pasch
A few years ago, you could have attended one of my workshops and heard me recommend free press release websites as a way to get additional listing in Google search result pages (SERPS) for localized keywords and the dealership name. Some (expensive) national press release websites also provided high quality links and traffic to a business website.
With recent changes in the Google algorithm, press release websites and article directory sites, which were being abused for link generation, no longer have the "power" they once had. Yet, thousands of press releases are posted every day generating millions of dollars of annual revenue for PR firms and press release websites.
This post is not about past SEO strategies, but to ask if you think the multi-million dollar press release business model is on its way to extinction? Have social media website like Twitter and Facebook become the most effective way to get the word out for breaking news?
Should dealers and vendor companies continue to invest in nationally syndicated press releases?
In the past, if a dealership received a special OEM recognition or was a major sponsor of a local charity, a press release was normally published. The title of the press release could include the dealership's name or some catchy phrase to get attention of editors. The hope was that when an editor saw the press release, he/she might include the story in their news syndicate.
Today, the fastest way to get news around the world is a well timed Twitter tweet or a well produced YouTube video. Natural disasters or breaking news from around the world are being syndicated for free via social media.
Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are today's news amplifiers and not press release websites. Most dealers do not have the national impact that a tweet from Lady Gaga has but they could have a measurable impact in their local community, with the right strategy and social media investments.
Press releases a few years ago, could be found on Google Page One when a consumer searched a dealership's name. Today when you search a dealer's name in Google, social media websites dominate Page One.
Social media websites are today's press release syndicate. As you can see in the orange box, Google+ Local is the loudest influence on a dealership's brand when a consumer searches the dealership name.
In fact, the dealership's last post on Google+ is highlighted right under their reviews, so here is another reason why posting on Google+ is important for good PR!
You can easily see how Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and review websites like DealerRater.com and Google+ can have more impact on a local brand than any $300 press release post on a third party website.
Since social media website like Twitter and Facebook are today's instant PR tool, what are you doing at your dealership to increase LOCAL connections on popular social media channels? What could happen if you had thousands of LOCAL consumers connected to your social media accounts? What reach would your YouTube videos have if 1,000 local consumers followed your feed? Of course, that feed cannot just be re-runs of your broadcast TV ads!
Businesses are just starting to document the impact of strong LOCAL social media connections on their bottom line. I will tell you this, getting local social media connections will not come from generic social media posts that every other dealer in the country is using. Same is lame! If you continue to see Facebook likes from Pakistan and obscure foreign countries to inflate social media metrics, get another social media consulting firm!
Investments in growing your local social media connections can have an immediate and long-term impact on sales and service revenue. We are also seeing that social media advertising, using hyper local offers, is a great way to accelerate local connections.
It's time to realize that social media has the potential to create your own virtual newspaper, radio, and TV station to your local community or to your industry. You can be the master of your PR and communication strategy without paying high media costs. You can be your own media mogul in your local market.
The decision is yours. Social media can sell cars, service, and of course can differentiate your brand. If you are still investing in "dead" PR and marketing strategies, it's time to reconsider your choices.
Brian Pasch, CEO