The rise of the web has revolutionized the simple press release, which has gone from being copy you post to journalists to being yet another form of online information, accessible by both the media and the public.
However, while this means press releases can be extraordinarily useful, it also means the world is utterly swamped with them and it can be hard for them to rise above the general clamor. That’s true despite the huge number of sector-specific online magazines and news sources that include press releases in their offerings.
If a company succeeds with a sound online press release strategy, though, it can enjoy free publicity, a reputation as an authority within its industry and potentially a wealth of inbound links to its website.
So, how can businesses ensure their press releases have the best chance of being seen? Here are a few hints and tips. Many of these are also relevant to corporate blogs, so keep an eye out for tactics you can use for social media campaigns.
Pick a point
Make sure your press releases have a story, a point and—ideally—an obvious news angle.
Try to make your news as relevant as possible to the general public as well, as this increases the chance it will be picked up by multiple journalists or news sources. For example, if you want to report that your business’ turnover has increased by X amount then try to fit this in with information about the current economic climate.
For example, writing that “online sock selling defies recession” is more compelling and potentially newsworthy than “LetsTalkAboutSocksBaby.com sells 70 pairs in a day.”
Look for the news point that would interest you if the press release was not about your own company and you stand a much greater chance of success.
An increasing number of firms are sending out general opinion pieces as press releases, but I do not think this is useful—after all, that is what your blog is for. That does not mean your company cannot publish press release reactions to wider industry news, for example: “Our company commends Google’s decision to…”
Releasing responses like this works really well for the personal finance sector and yet does not seem to have spread elsewhere.
If a busy journalist is writing about the news and needs a quote from an industry insider, if yours is already in their inbox, using it will be easier than phoning around trying to find someone else’s.
Target your distribution
There are tons of press release distribution sites and they can be good places to simply get your content out there.
However, getting a journalist to take interest in the story and write about it is far more useful and will add considerable credibility to your efforts. With all the industry-specific websites out there—everything from Building.co.uk to sites like NetMoms&Mdash;there is likely to be a niche or topic-specific site which is an ideal fit for targeting your release. So make sure you use the online PR distribution industry specific categories and location options to help ensure your press releases reaches a relevant, targeted audience.
The effort put into finding a newsworthy angle and fully preparing a press release to create something worth discussing is vital for a truly successful promotion. With a few minutes research and a couple of friendly emails you have a much greater chance of seeing your story do well.
Don’t forget bloggers—targeting a few key figures could be a useful way of spreading the reach of your release. Also, links from really niche websites and blogs will strengthen your site’s industry relevance and drive up your rankings.
It is a tough time for journalists, and the majority are working to incredible deadlines and managing enormous work loads. They are busy, so realize your release may not have even been read once it landed in journalists’ inboxes.
After sending a press release, wait a few hours and then follow it up with a friendly phone call. Did they receive it? Do they anticipate writing about it? Can you help them with anything?
Ideally, you want to make writers think they are being offered something that no one else is. A great hook is to offer them the chance of some unique quotes from the CEO or a few minutes chatting to the client you’ve highlighted in your release.
Don’t risk your credibility
Since the web became awash with press releases, quality standards have taken a hit. It’s crucial to impress the reader and protect your firm’s reputation by ensuring the quality of the release is high. This will make it seem more credible and make it more likely to be published.
Make sure your spelling and grammar are flawless. Where a typo in a blog post is regrettable but understandable, an error in a release is horrible.
Ensure your quotations are succinct, punchy and intelligent—these are often the only bits that will make it into a news story.
Devote some time to detail
All releases need certain key points of information, regardless of the subject of the release. These key points include a name and number to call for more details, the address of the company, a brief description of the firm (and of the client if your release is about another organization too).
The more information you hand a journalist on a plate, the more likely the poor, overworked hack is to use your release. If they have to look around the web to find a description of your company, they may choose not to bother.
Optimize your links
Undoubtedly one of the main reasons firms distribute press releases is to build up inbound links to their webpages. Many sites will just republish the release on their pages.
So, if you link to your pages in the release, you’ll increase the number of links to your site, which is good for SEO. What is great for SEO is relevant wording, so use your chosen keywords as the hyperlinked anchor text where possible. That reiterates to the search engines that your pages are relevant and authoritative sources for information on those keywords.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.