Today’s Best Press Release Tactics
by Penny Sansevieri
If you’re crafting a press release to fax or email to the media—stop! This is a colossal waste of your time. Why? Because the old way of handling press releases no longer works. Press releases, the old way, are useless.
Several studies indicate that more than 70 percent of Americans get their news content online. So not only are reporters online, but media-hungry consumers are, too. This has made online press releases attractive to media professionals.
A few years ago you could almost guarantee that a media person would call you if you posted a well-crafted release in an online newsroom like PRWeb.com. It was simple and free, and posting generally took no longer than five to ten minutes—time well spent. But as a flood of press releases hit these online newsrooms, the ratio of posting to media attention changed.
The solution is simple: press release optimization. Let me explain.
How to Optimize Your Release
When your press release resides online, whether it’s available through a service like PRWeb or in your site’s media room, you need to treat it the same way you treat a Web site—by optimizing the chances that the right people will find it. Our resident SEO guru has helped us develop a system for optimizing releases.
Here are some tips based on what we’ve discovered.
Know your keywords. As discussed in “The Lowdown on Finding—and Using—Keywords” (August), well-chosen keywords are essential for getting noticed. You need to know what your consumers are searching for and to incorporate the search terms they use in your release (and all your other marketing materials).
Use the keywords in the headline of your release and in its first 50 words. Also consider using them in the release’s last paragraph. Why? Because when Google crawls a release posted online, it tends to focus on the title and the first and last paragraphs.
Keep your release to 600 words. This is now the standard length.
Provide one or two links back to your site in the release. You want to give media people easy access to the rich content there.
Use keywords for hyperlinking. Your links to related sites can generate valuable links from them to you, and search engines love incoming links. Any pickup of your release by a Web site—especially a news Web site—creates an inbound link that helps boost your site’s rank.
Blogs Make It Better
Blogs can be an effective distribution mechanism for releases. Here’s why: Overall, blogs do better in rankings, and if they’re on a suitable platform (such as WordPress), they’re much more searchable than any online release can be. In other words, blogs are generally more visible.
Even if you’re not inclined to use your blog as a tool for distributing a press release, you should still announce news in the blog. Since blogs are interactive, consumers and vendors plus media people can comment on the news there, and this gives you great immediate feedback.
By contrast, a release posted online may seem to get lost in cyberspace so that you never know how it resonates with your audience.
Support from Social Media
As you’re going after media, don’t forget to use your Twitter profile to share any posted press releases, and always list or link to them from your Facebook Fan Page. Also, be sure to social-bookmark your press release and/or your blog post if you posted the release to your blog.
I recommend social bookmarking for all blog postings too. It’s a great way to get additional link “juice” to places you’d like to draw attention to.
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is an adjunct instructor teaching publishing and social media at NYU. She is also the author of five books, including Red Hot Internet Publicity. To learn about her books or her promotional services, visit amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free e-zine, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online News Site Alternatives
If you’re still intrigued by the idea of posting to an online news site, here’s a tip: Spending a lot of money on a release generally doesn’t mean you’ll get more coverage. I find that standard sites such as PRWeb are good, and you might also want to post via some freebie sites as well.