Press releases have long been a great way for businesses to get announcements about their store openings, special events or awards and recognitions circulated by the media. In the past, news outlets would either publish your press release or use it as a basis for building a bigger story. As the internet grew, publishers started to look at press releases differently – not just in terms of media distribution, but in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) value as well.
What Exactly Is a Press Release?
Press releases are specially formatted pieces of communication designed to share a very specific piece of information. They’re usually about events or contain announcements about changes to a business. In some cases, businesses use them to highlight something considered newsworthy and notable to the business.
Traditionally, press releases were given to newspapers and magazines with the hope that reporters would see the information and become interested in it. From there, the reporter could more easily create articles before the paper published, getting the word out in a shorter period of time.
Some press releases are limited to certain media groups, giving them first rights to publication. These initial publishers would then make the release available to other outlets a little later on, often for a fee. Associated Press still does this even today.
Other releases are made available for immediate use (often called “for immediate release” instead). This means any news or media outlet can run them from the moment they are first released.
As the internet evolved, so did the purpose of the press release. While releases are always written with the media in mind, businesses interested in online distribution are also focused on the SEO value of the release – both in the release itself and in the authority of the sites that run it. This is especially important to businesses that function primarily online, where local media releases might not be as appropriate or helpful.
Of course, there are still some things you’ll need to do to make sure your releases add value to your campaigns. Let’s talk about that next.
Choose Your Topic Carefully
We can’t stress this enough: your topic has to be a newsworthy piece of information that will appeal to your audience and to the world of journalism.
- An announcement about a new product or service
- Major changes to staff at higher levels in the organization (CEO, etc)
- Announcing support of a charity and a related event
- Major giveaways or promotions (not regular day-to-day sales)
- Partnerships with other corporations or groups
- Information about community outreach efforts
- Business-related achievements on a company level
- “World record” style achievements specific to an employee
Be creative as you go about your daily operations. You may be surprised at what you find you can spin into a great press release. Aim to put one out at least once per month, if not more often. Ideally, you’ll create a release each time you grow, evolve, and succeed along the way!
Focus On Your Keywords
In the case of a press release, you’ll need to make sure the keywords you include aren’t just geared towards your products and services. They need to contribute to a newsworthy story – something both your target audience and the average journalist might be searching for. Even though you’re publishing your press release online, you still want to try to have it picked up by reputable media outlets. Optimizing keywords in your press release will ensure this happens.
Write Creative Headlines
It’s important to be creative when writing your headline, but you can’t be vague. Any journalist looking at your headline should be able to pick up on appropriate keywords and get an idea of what your story is going to be about. The headline needs to be catchy and clear at the same time – something people will want to share, whether they’ve clicked through and read the full release or not. Consider it a challenge and have fun with it.
Format Your Copy Properly
The formatting for a press release is relatively specific. The top section should include your logo, contact information and information about the release date. Beneath that you should have a major headline and a subheader. Your first paragraph always begins with a dateline (City, State, Month, Date) before the body of the text begins.
Limit your copy to three to four short paragraphs of text. Include clear, concise pieces of information, especially in the first paragraph. Write naturally, but include your main keywords whenever appropriate to increase your SEO value. Hyperlink some of your main keywords or the name of your business, directing traffic back to a relevant page on your website. Don’t include more than one or two links in the entire body of text.
Wrap it up with a boilerplate line, end notation, and a final note about who the media should contact for additional information. You can include a link to your website in the contact information at the top, or in the final note at the bottom.
About That Logo
Make sure you include your company’s current logo in the press release. This is non-negotiable. Don’t skip it, thinking you can simply write the name of your company in bold text at the top. We guarantee that a media outlet will do a Google search for your company’s logo to include if they do decide to publish. Including it yourself will make sure they end up with the most recent, properly branded version available. For better SEO, make sure the file name is your company name before you finish the upload.
Include Different Forms of Media
While you don’t want to fill the body of your press release with fluff, you do want to make it appealing. Be sure to embed or attach any relevant videos or images that support your story. No matter where your release ends up being published, the odds are very high that it will end up shared on at least one social media platform. Having an image attached will increase your odds significantly.
Press releases are a great way to spread the word about your business while improving your online presence. Make sure you are using different keywords in each press release and don’t forget to cross-publish them on your website’s blog or a dedicated press release page as well. As with all aspects of your marketing campaign, you’ll need to experiment to see which techniques work best for you. Adjust the process after each release and we’re sure you’ll be pleased with the boost your SEO efforts receive.