In this era of social media marketing, the news release seems obsolete.
Some contend it is dead, and insist it doesn’t help SEO strategy at all. How can you give new life to the news release? It is possible with the right angle.
A crucial update to your PR strategy is thinking of news releases as an opportunity to connect with the audiences you care about—including reporters.
Why are news releases still important?
If there’s something noteworthy you’d like to share, a great news release can lead to articles, interviews and stories. If Apple launches a new product and provides information through a news release, that would surely gain traction, right? They are a well-known brand, and their users want to know what’s happening. That’s why a news release touting the launch of the iPhone 8 (PRODUCT)RED immediately got the attention of reporters.
A news release is the easiest way to announce an important event or new product launch. You don’t have to invite reporters to a news conference, organize the event and hope they show up. You just share the news.
In addition to reporters, bloggers are also looking for fresh information to share with their audience. The news release can get your brand featured on all the important industry sites and if you make it creative, it may even go viral.
Google won’t penalize it if you don’t stuff it with too many links and keywords, so it can also add some SEO value.
How to make your news release work
It’s not yet time to leave the news release behind, but it is time to rethink your approach and revamp your public relations strategy.
Sure, you’ll keep the standard structure. However, when you include these as part of a modern PR strategy, you’ll need to tailor them to your audience.
Here are nine ways to do this:
1. Make it about the end user.
When you write a news release, you want something that gets the attention of your audience. Whenever people read something online, they wonder: what’s in this for me?
You’re not writing the news release for the reporters. When reporters write articles, they ask themselves, “What value will the readers gain from this?’
In essence, you’re writing the news release for the end user.
2. Think like a blogger when writing a headline.
Journalists glance through dozens of news releases daily, so it’s no surprise they don’t read them all.
A strong headline makes a huge difference. It must clearly describe what the news release is about, but it mustn’t be boring. Use clear, simple words and avoid the passive. Keep it short and straight to the point.
If you want precision, then think like a blogger. Infuse some emotion in the headline. Your goal is to gain people’s interest, so use power words such as free, sale, bargain, special or luxury.
3. Don’t make the first paragraph repetitive.
Traditional rules for writing a news release told you to write a descriptive headline and expand on it in the first paragraph.
That doesn’t work for today’s readers. Their attention span will not deal with repetitiveness.
Check out this example of a news release, published by Nike:
The headline immediately tells us what’s going on. The first paragraph repeats the same thing.
Now, this may work for a huge brand such as Nike. Reporters and bloggers will be interested in this because it’s a big brand. However, this still is an example of how not to write the first paragraph if you want to capture people’s interest.
Think of it this way: the first paragraph should be a continuation of the headline. It should get to the point straight away, but without repeating the same info.
The headline read “Nike Announces Strategic Leadership Changes,” and the first paragraph tells readers what those changes are.
4. Avoid slang.
Only simplicity works for today’s online audience.
If you want journalists, bloggers and random readers to understand what you say, your expression must be clear and simple. Even if you’re confident of your writing and editing skills, it’s best to rely on a professional editor.
5. Don’t forget the data.
Most people don’t believe everything they read online, and they’re looking for the facts. This is why they prefer to see data in the content they’re accessing.
6. Only add a quote if it’s relevant.
When you look at Nike’s news release, you’ll see a statement from the brand’s chief operating officer. That’s a common practice but can lead to throwing in a random statement that makes no sense.
Ideally, you’d like to include a quote from a key stakeholder or someone on the executive team. Ask a precise question and don’t be afraid to edit the quote if it sounds like rambling. You’ll get this person’s approval on the edits before you publish.
If you don’t have a good quote, it’s best not to include one at all.
7. Make the ‘About’ section a good read.
Most everyone knows who Nike and Mars are, but both still include an about section at the bottom of their news release.
If your brand is not as well-known, reporters will read this section. That’s why you must pay more attention to it.
Use clear language. Provide a fun fact about your brand. Talk about social responsibility, a hot topic for today’s audiences. Finally, include a link that leads people to your website. You may also include links to your brand’s social media accounts.
8. Expand your distribution.
Where do you publish news releases? Your website is the first idea that should come to mind. You should also think of news release distribution services. But that’s not where you should stop.
Don’t publish a news release through a distribution service and wait for the results. Treat it like any piece of marketing content and use different channels to promote it.
9. Make the news release part of your marketing strategy.
The news release has a specific place in the overall marketing strategy, and it must align with your marketing objectives.
What precise goals do you want to achieve? What steps will take you to the point you envision?
Plan a methodical approach that allows you to set objectives and measure the effectiveness of your press outreach campaign.
The news release still has potential, and you can bring it back to life.
Chris Richardson is a journalist, editor, and a blogger. This article originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog.