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Monday, December 17, 2007

The press release and the website designer

Marty Thomas of, a recently established web design organization focusing on the construction trades, asked on The Contractors Club forum for advice on issuing and distributing news releases. I can claim 'expert' status on this topic -- Now a publisher, I worked as a journalist, and for five years as a public relations officer for the Canadian federal government. So I know something about news releases and how they work (and their limitations as well as strengths).

I asked to see a copy of his draft news release. He responded:

Hi Mark,Thanks for your help with this. I have subscribed and have been reading your blog. I like what you have to say and look forward to your thoughts here. I am a retail contractor by day. However, This particular press release was written for my web design & Internet
marketing business that I started with a couple other web developers in Chicago.Thanks again

And he sent me this news release text:

Martin Thomas, Founder

Nook Web Introduces Skilled Trades Specialized Internet Marketing

Bridging The Technology Gap
Chicago, Illinois
- December 17, 2007 – NOOK Web, a website design, development and Internet marketing firm based in Chicago, Illinois and serving clients nationwide, introduces specialized turn-key services for the skilled trades industry. The company’s unique strategies bridge the gap between skilled trades professionals who rarely need or use the Internet and their diverse customer base encompassing business professionals, home owners and individuals who use the Internet as their principal means for finding service professionals.

Experts foresee a 50 percent drop in Yellow Pages use during the next five years. In addition, Business Week reports that 70 percent of homeowners use the Internet to make their purchase decisions.

As a result, traditional print advertising media is no longer the most effective way to generate new business. “We’ve developed an intelligent, cost-efficient strategy that lets skilled trades professionals, whether a sole proprietor electrician, plumber, painter, HVAC contractor or major custom home construction businesses, reallocate marketing dollars into carefully targeted, local online advertising” states Martin Thomas, Founder of Nook Web.

Martin Thomas, founder of NOOK Web, grew-up immersed in the general contracting industry, helping his father in the suburbs of Chicago for more than 20 years. After earning his degree in Multimedia from Bradley University, he used his existing professional network to develop and fine-tune a highly sought-after and focused Internet Marketing technique. Since that time, Thomas has expanded his audience nationally, assisting skilled trades clients from California to the Carolinas.

To learn more about the company’s web design and Internet Marketing services, visit or call 888-689-3144.

About NOOK Web

NOOK Web ( is a specialized website design, development and Internet Marketing firm focused on the skilled trades industry. The company guides clients through all steps of the website introduction and advertising process.
# # #

This is a classic, conventional news release. It will be somewhat effective, I believe, but won't excite anyone. Certainly, publishers, especially "conventional print media", will not publish it -- it is essentially inviting advertisers to desert their publications; and no one in their right mind is going to encourage that. So the news release most likely will find its way into online systems, and thus be read primarily by the people who don't need the service the most -- the contractor looking for his first really good website.

Now, does that mean it is totally invalid? Not necessarily. News releases have many additional functions including collateral marketing. But what can we do to increase the chance of the news release turning into published news media articles (which are far more valuable in marketing collateral than the news release itself?)

I suggested two things. First, Marty should tailor the release in different variations to the different trades. This will increase its relevance to specialized trade media.

The second suggestion relates to testimonials, and here things get interesting and challenging. Can Marty provide examples of clients who have successfully increased their business, and quantify it? If so, he can achieve a one-two media-relations punch.

First, in co-operation with his clients, he would issue individualized news release to local media highlighting the clients' success. (The clients will probably be very happy with the publicity.)

Second, using the client stories as a basis (or perhaps the local media publicity as background material) the news release could be revised to show real benefit to the 'typical' trade in the field -- maybe reformulated into a ready-to-run print article (or possibly the ready-to-run article could be sent to the appropriate specialized media along with the news release.)

Finally, I would reiterate that it doesn't help your cause to say that conventional advertising doesn't work -- this will discourage any media from using it. Write the article and news release to suggest the Internet are complementary to the conventional media, and pick-up rates will be higher. (But you can of course take a shot at the Yellow Pages, since they are competitors to both the Internet and editorial print media, and of course, the Yellow Pages would never publish your news release, anyways.)

Oh, and I like the idea of a specialized web design service for the construction trades -- it is good that you can speak the industry's language, and connect with its participants.


Marty Thomas said...

Thanks for the post Mark.. You have a very good point about playing up a complementary roll rather than a replacement. Its funny how obvious that is, and how I didn’t even notice it. This will definitely be changed before I release it. Thanks again.

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

This example illustrates a rather important point of marketing -- you will succeed if you respect the perspectives and biases of the people who you wish to work with. I agree that a great website can replace much (wasted) advertising, but take it out of the Yellow Pages, not media where independent editorial content is published!