To Her Continued Success – interview with Michelle Howe (7 November 2006)

Introduction

Whenever I end my emails, I’m always at a loss: do I say ‘Yours truly,’ or ‘Yours sincerely,’ or ‘Regards’? I have to think before I type. With Michelle, every email she wrote me ended with ‘To your continued success’! and I was so intrigued by this. Still, I first came across Michelle’s work about 2 months ago when I was surfing the net and came across an article she wrote. I thereafter wrote directly to her and asked if she would like to be interviewed. She agreed and without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you Michelle Howe …


Aneeta: Thank you, Michelle, for agreeing to this interview. I have read, on your website, www.InternetWordMagic.com that you have many years of experience as a professor. What did you teach and where?

Michelle: I earned my MBA from Cal Poly Pomona with an emphasis in communication. I then joined the faculty of Cal Poly Pomona teaching business writing, public speaking and management. After a move to Orange County in 1997, I accepted a faculty position in the department of Marketing and Business Writing at Cal State Fullerton.

As the Internet began to take hold in everyday business, I began researching communication and marketing techniques on the Internet. The results of this research are my two books, “Persuasive Writing Made Easy” and “Turn Browsers Into Buyers.” I also started consulting with companies to assist them in how to effectively position their online marketing message.

Aneeta: I also understand that you write a monthly column called, Writing For Business. Are you able to give us a sample article here?

Michelle: Actually, I am no longer writing the business column for the Riverside Business Journal. Instead, I write a monthly article for my e-newsletter. I’ll attach my most recent article for your use.

5 Tips for Writing Search Engine Optimized Press Releases

By Michelle Howe

(606 words)

Online press releases are one of the most inexpensive and highly effective marketing methods for a small business owner. Yet, many people think only “big businesses” use press releases. Wrong.

The Internet gives a small business’s website the same visibility as a large corporation’s website and online press releases work the same way. Once an online press release is distributed, it’s out there in cyberspace generating hits and driving traffic to your website for years to come. Just last week I received an e-mail from someone who read a press release I wrote two years ago!

Unlike an offline press release that is distributed directed to journalists at newspapers and other media outlets, the online press release is “evergreen,” it never goes away. A simple keyword search could turn up your press release years later. Compare this to the offline press release that may or not be used by the journalists and then is trashed, never to be seen again.

An online press release also has a worldwide distribution to thousands of media outlets. Popular newswire service PRWeb.com, e-mails “press releases to between 60,000 and 100,000 global contacts points including journalists, analysts, freelance writers, media outlets and newsrooms.”

Along with its large distribution and staying power, an online press release can be even more effective in driving traffic to a website if it is search engine optimized. Here are five tips on how to create a more powerful online press release:

1. Have a newsworthy angle. A press release is not a sales pitch. Provide the media with information that answers the questions of “who, what, where, why and when.” Make it interesting by telling a story that engages the reader

2. Choose the right keywords. What words would someone use to find your business when using Google? Experiment to see which words are most popular. When you type in a phrase in the Google search feature, it now lists the number of times that particular phrase has been searched in the last 30 days. This is a new free service being offered by Google; use it to your advantage.

3. Vary keyword placement. Don’t get so carried away with your keyword phrase that it shows up in every other sentence of the press release. Have a reasonable balance in your writing so that the keyword placement is invisible to the reader. Include the keyword phrase in the first sentence and then two or three more times throughout the press release

4. Use eye catching headlines. Make sure to include the keyword phrase in your headline and at the same time, make the headline interesting. Write the headline after you have completed your press release and it should easily come to you.

5. Use anchor text. Although it will cost you more to place a press release with anchor text, it is well worth the money. Anchor text is the hyperlinked words on a Web page that you click on to take you to another location within the website or to another website. Search engines love anchor text because it tells them what the page is about. It’s a great way to boost your ranking with the search engines, especially Google.

Consider using search engine optimized press releases to publicize your business and drive traffic to your website. It’s simple to get started and hugely rewarding. One of my clients had over 1,400 media outlets pick-up his press release within two weeks after I wrote it. A keyword search found the press release as top ranked on both Google and Yahoo. Needless to say, we are going to continue with monthly search engine optimized press releases.

About the Author:

Michelle Howe, MBA, president of Internet Word Magic, is an expert in online copywriting for websites. Michelle consults with companies to assist them in effectively positioning their online marketing message to match their offline branding. A former university professor, Michelle is the author of “Persuasive Writing Made Easy” and “Turn Browsers into Buyers.” Visit her Web site at http://www.InternetWordMagic.com for a free report, “The Five-Step Plan to Article Success.”

Aneeta: Michelle, there are so very many ‘experts’ out there on writing for the internet. What makes you special? What is your approach and is it effective?

Michelle: The whole issue of writing and people thinking they can write well is an interesting topic. When I was teaching, many of my students had gotten A’s in their English classes, but they were nearly failing in my business writing classes. It didn’t make sense to them and at first I was confused too. However, what I discovered is that business writing is all about being able to communicate clearly. You may be able to put a sentence or paragraph together, but if the message is unclear, you have failed to communicate.

In order to be able to communicate clearly, you have to be able to use critical thinking skills to problem solve while you are writing. Not an easy task to accomplish. Many of my students had never been faced with the challenge of solving a problem through writing. So, for many of them, it was like learning another language; another way to communicate.

Writing for the Internet is equally difficult because you are not only writing to communicate with your target audience, but you are writing for the search engines. So, you have two completely different audiences who will be reading the content on a website. You have to reach both audiences, or the website fails as a marketing tool.

One of the unique things about me is that I was trained by a professional ghostwriter how to incorporate my client’s voice in all the writing I do for that client. If you were to look at any of the websites I’ve written content for, you wouldn’t be able to recognize it as “Michelle’s writing style,” it sounds like the company wrote it.

When companies hire me, they are getting much more than a copywriter. I understand all about Internet marketing, website design, search engine optimization and online promotion. My clients bring me in to create an Internet marketing strategy for their business in addition to creating the content for the website. Sometimes we create an integrated marketing plan that incorporates offline with online promotion.

Aneeta: Let’s go now to the products you offer on your site. For each product, please describe the product and its benefits.
Michelle:
Persuasive Writing Made Easy – book : A step-by-step guide to creating sales messages for any marketing material: sales letters, e-mail, brochures or phone scripts. Generate more leads and close more sales.

Turn Browsers Into Buyers – book: Learn how to attract the right people to your website, without hype and without manipulation. Ethically present your marketing message in a way that allows you to tap into your target audience’s personal value system. People do business with people they like and trust. Turn Browsers into Buyers shows you how to instantly build rapport with your audience and how to express your marketing message without being pushy. It shows you how to make every page on your Web site interesting and engaging.

How to Write An Irresistible Homepage in 7 Simple Steps – Audio CD : You have less than four seconds before a visitor will leave your homepage. My simple step-by-step process will teach you how to create a homepage that captivates visitors and encourages them to stay.

Secrets of Successful Web Writing – 2 Audio CD & Workbook Set: Boost traffic by learning how to write for search engines. In two hours you can get the knowledge you need to completely re-vamp your Web site and turn it into a selling machine. This CD set shows you step-by-step how to analyze your Web site and make it search engine friendly and visitor friendly.

Aneeta: Do you have any other products besides these?

Michelle:  I’m going to be creating a teleclass “boot camp” that will follow my “Turn Browsers Into Buyers” book and give people hands-on instruction in revamping or creating the content for their website. Sometimes reading is not enough, people need a coach to guide them in creating the content.

Aneeta: Michelle, as you know, my website caters for storytellers. How does storytelling fit into your kind of work, if at all?

Michelle: People love stories and powerful stories build rapport with an audience. I use client stories of success to explain my services and create an understanding with my potential clients. I want people to feel comfortable working with me and storytelling is a great tool.

Aneeta: What advice would you give to people, in particular storytellers, who would like to venture into the internet world?

Michelle: Storytelling on the Internet is even more viable today because of the use of audio and video on websites. The human voice is much more powerful than the written word. I predict more and more websites are going to be using audio as a sales tool. They will also be using it to begin building relationships with potential customers. Storytelling will be a very important component of this change.

Aneeta: Michelle, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Michelle: The website for my new book is http://www.turn-browsers-into-buyers.com

Aneeta: Once again, thank you.

Michelle: Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed and thank you for your patience in allowing me to delay getting this information to you.


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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