10 ways to power up your press releases

Use these pointers to entice more journalists, make your information more relevant and have it pop up more often in search.

Press releases are a marketing industry staple. It’s hard to imagine a company announcing news or launching a product without distributing at least one press release.

But do press releases still work in the age of cluttered inboxes and social media?

According to Dan Zarella, a Hubspot researcher, the short answer is yes.

Online press releases are viewed an average of 275 times during the week, and media views account for at least another 70 views. The more eyeballs that check out your announcement, the more likely you are to gain traction with journalists and conversions with customers.

It’s not enough, though, to simply post a few words about your news and take the rest of the week off. Effective press releases are part art and part science.

Here are 10 things you must do for maximum press release power:

1. Tease and tell.

Your press release should contain enough information to let customers and journalists know why your news is important, but is should also include a hook that encourages further questions.

Don’t be coy when explaining your announcement, though. If you tease too much without sharing details, you’ll lose people who don’t want to dig for information.

2. Use visuals.

Zarella says press releases that contain images and videos increase engagement by 18 percent and 55 percent, respectively. Put together an informative infographic or collection of short videos that illustrate the concepts behind your announcement. Visuals are a perfect vehicle for delivering concise information in easily consumable bites.

3. Polish your SEO skills.

To increase its chance of getting noticed on crowded press release websites and in Google searches, fine-tune your press release’s search engine optimization. Don’t go overboard, though.

“Outside of keywords in your headline, press releases should be no more about search engine optimization than blogging is-you write for people first, and let the search engine chips fall where they may,” says Brian Clark of Copyblogger.

4. Tailor your language to the audience.

It’s tempting to trot out your best marketing-speak when crafting a press release, but resist. Save words like “synergy,” “disrupt” and “leader,” and rely on straightforward phrases that inform people.

“Our widget increases worker productivity by 73 percent,” is much more effective than, “As an industry leader, our disruptive new widget benefits synergy between customers and employees.”

5. Explain what’s in it for the reader.

Use press releases to build relationships with journalists and customers alike. Don’t just email copies to all your distribution lists; include a few sentences that explain what your announcement means for each reader. Customers want to know how your news affects them, and reporters want to know how the news fits into their niche.

6. Be ready to answer questions.

A good press release will prompt calls from people who want to know more. Be sure your contact information is clearly displayed on your press release and that your staff is available to answer questions. Nothing says “I don’t care” as strongly as your silence.

7. Use free and paid distribution services.

Press release distribution can be expensive, but it’s a crucial business cost. Paid distribution channels often have tight relationships with sites such as Google News and USA Today, so it’s worth investing in them to reach a wider audience.

Free sites are great for the budget-conscious, but they typically post to lower-quality websites. To maximize effectiveness, use a combination of free and paid services.

8. Tell a story.

Case studies and white papers are popular because they tell a great story that readers can adapt to their own situations. Think of press releases as short stories that explain your news in a captivating way.

Fast Company’s Wendy Marx says the next time you write a press release, ask yourself: “What makes your company tick? How do you delight your customers? What sets you apart from the pack?”

9. Post press releases on your company website.

Don’t rely on the Internet’s changing winds to keep your press releases searchable. Always post a copy on a dedicated section of your company website. The reason is twofold:

1. Customers reading the press release on your site can quickly click over to your product or contact pages.

2. Reporters won’t have to go on a scavenger hunt to track down your organization’s latest news.

10. Be a good Internet citizen.

Link to a few outside sources within your press release to let others share a sliver of your spotlight. Google loves that reciprocity, and readers will know you’re plugged in to industry experts.

“Press releases, as long as you write them in-house, also give you the key opportunity to associate your company name with relevant keywords and subjects,” says Forbes’ Jayson DeMers. “This increases the likelihood that search queries will result in your business showing up due to co-occurrence and co-citation, as well as the recent semantic search updates to Google’s algorithms.”

A version of this article originally appeared on Visually.

Topics: PR


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