PR2 Newsletter : Issue 7

Welcome to issue 7 of the PR2 Website Promotion Newsletter.

This newsletter has now passed the big three zero zero zero mark, and is going out to 3,150 subscribers. Thank you all for spreading the word. Have you considered linking to PR2? It would be great if you could show your support for the course in this way... Here's all the information you need to know about linking to this site.

To start with a couple of brief digressions first, I received 3 email messages last week on exactly the same topic: WHY am I offering this course? All the emails were complimentary, but the writers seemed baffled as to what I get out of all this. In fact, I get several things. Firstly, I genuinely enjoy the chance to help out so many people. The emails I receive testify that many of you are finding this course useful. Secondly, I am doing this because I want to prove that I can run a major newsletter. I have already become relatively successful on the Web as I run six sites with combined traffic in excess of half a million page-views a month so this course represents a new level of challenge. Finally (and a definite third) I would naturally be delighted to make a little money should anyone choose to sponsor this newsletter. Information about sponsorship can be found here.

My other digression concerns the email I receive every day. Since I run many sites, each of which generate a lot of messages, I often can't reply personally to each one. Still, rest assured that I read all messages carefully and I file away all useful suggestions and comments.

Making News

Long before the Internet as we know it today came along, with its myriad of flashy sites and interesting places to surf, hundreds of thousands of people were already meeting and exchanging views across thousands of little communities known as "USENET newsgroups".

These newsgroups (text-only for the most part) are still around, and indeed thriving. Even better, from a promotional point of view, they have been given a modern, up-to-date interface via the DejaNews site

If you are not familiar with USENET, a very brief summary is in order.

USENET is composed of thousands of discussion groups, or "newsgroups." These are grouped into loose hierarchies, such as "rec" for "recreational", "sci" for "scientific", "comp" for "computer related", "misc" for "miscellaneous", "biz" for "business" and "soc" for "society". There are some other minor hierarchies, such as ones for specific countries or even for major companies. Each hierarchy contains from a few dozen to over a thousand separate discussion forums, each of which is dedicated to discussing a specific topic. These forums are text-based, not graphics.

There is one vast hierarchy missing from the list above, "alt" (for "alternative"). This is the real anarchic frontier of the 'Net, a vast morass of discussion groups about anything and everything imaginable, and some things you'd rather not imagine. Until you are more confident about finding your way around USENET, it would be better to leave the "alt" hierarchy alone.

A few examples will illustrate this hierarchical structure better. For example:-


This is a discussion group in the "comp" hierarchy, talking about selling things. In this case, talking about selling computers.


This is a discussion group in the "soc" hierarchy, talking about world cultures. In this case, talking about the culture of Australia.

There are thousands and thousands more discussion groups on USENET. This represents a wonderful opportunity for you to pick up some useful traffic to your site.

First, you need to go to the DejaNews site I mentioned earlier, and do a search for discussion groups relating to the content of your site. For instance, if you run a site all about the finer points of chinese cooking, you could try typing "chinese cooking" into the DejaNews search box.

You'll see hundreds of "threads" (i.e. topics under discussion) listed in response to your search. Try to find a thread that looks interesting by reading down through the list of "Subject"s until something catches your eye.

What you are looking for is a chance to comment and to add something valuable to the discussion taking place. This is what is going to bring you the extra traffic I promised you rather rashly a few paragraphs' ago.

Once you have found a thread that looks suitable, you should click on the "Subject" of that thread and you will be able to read the whole message. You should read and absorb the information it contains, then click on "View Thread" from the menu of options above and to the right of the message. Then read every message in that particular thread. Don't stint this process and skip messages; there is nothing worse for your credibility than repeating what somebody else said a few messages back.

Once you've finished reading the thread, you need to find something inspiring to say. Remember, you need to convince people that you know what you are talking about. Try to answer somebody's question in a polite, well-reasoned and meaningful way. To answer a message, click on "Post Reply". (Note: you will need to register with DejaNews the first time you post a reply, and give a few personal details).

You can then type your reply in the space provided. Try to keep it short and relevant to the topic of the question. Make sure that after you have finished, both the reader and anyone else following the discussion is left with a clear sense of your own knowledge and competence on the subject.

Now comes the cunning part: do you remember the "signature" I told you about last issue, the one which is now hopefully going out attached to every email you send? Well, you can CUT and PASTE it into the bottom of your reply. Now, everyone reading the message you posted (on some groups this will be hundreds or even thousands of people) will also read your little advertisement for your site! Done correctly, this can translate into really significant traffic for your site.

Why not give it a shot? Set yourself a target, say posting three messages a day for one week (i.e. 21 messages). Make sure you cover a variety of subjects, always draw on your knowledge, don't ramble or get away from the point of the discussion and of course always include your "signature" at the end of each message. By the end of the week, you should notice an appreciable increase in the number of visitors cominûtª your site.

The best thing about exploiting USENET is that the rewards match the effort you put in: the more you post useful messages and the more times you expose people to your signature, the more visitors will be attracted to your site.

Give it a try... once you get used to exploring USENET via the DejaNews interface, it really is not much more difficult than navigating a conventional site... and it gives you a chance to climb on a soapbox and reach a much wider audience than you could simply by relying on visitors finding your site.

Until next time... post those USENET messages, don't feel shy about evangelising PR2... and good luck promoting!

Edwin Hayward

Next: Issue 8

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