I Heart PR

I have a New Year’s resolution for business owners: Embrace the changing role of the press release and how it affects your company’s bottom line. Rethink the perfect press release.

Gone are the days where press releases were a one-and-done pass to securing media coverage – with new channels popping up every day and more businesses competing to be heard amidst the noise of their respective industries, it’s rare that a journalist reads a release and writes a story as a direct result of a traditional wire distribution service alone. But despite their changing role, press releases can still be an important part of making sure your story gets the attention it deserves – they’re just evolving a bit. Here are five essential components any modern press release must have to make it through today’s media storm:

1. Keywords are key: I always tell clients that nowadays, the main benefit of sending a press release over the wires is for SEO ranking. However, that one benefit is crucial for businesses and makes the effort entirely worth it. It’s the right keywords that will set your brand’s page or news above the rest and lead customers to you instead of your competitors. Google and other search engines index new content based on the quality of keywords contained, so take the time to do some research on what people are searching for in relation to your press release. Google AdWords  has a great keyword tool that is simple to use.

Note: Wire services can still be great and offer lots of benefits (including SEO help), but as they can get quite pricey, we recommend picking and choosing which releases you pay to distribute vs. which you do through free wires.

2. Make it newsworthy. Although search engine visibility is a paramount goal, the perfect press release must contain content that is interesting and truly newsworthy. We’re all biased toward our own businesses’ interests – it’s human nature – but take the time to think about what other people will care about outside of your office. Did you hire an experienced, Fortune 500-level CEO who will be implementing a whole new customer service program? Go for the press release and broad distribution. Did an associate VP get promoted? Post the press release to your website.

3. Location, location, location: Even if they’re interested in your story, most journalists are extremely busy and will not take the time to read your entire press release, whether it’s included in a pitch or they stumble upon it through web search. That being said, think strategically about how you’re placing information. Have an important main point and call to action (CTA)? Place it in the first or second paragraph – think a 30-second read at the most – and the last. This is where people are most likely to look for a summation of key content. That way, even a glance can catch a journalist’s eye and leave them wanting more.

4. The eyes have it: Photos, infographics, and video are increasingly important additions to any modern press release. New media in general is catering to a visually-driven consumer, and placing visual storytelling aids in your release is basically guaranteed to amplify your views. According to PR Newswire, a press release with even one photo will get 14% more reads than a text-only release. A release with a video and no photos will get 20% more views than text-only, while a release with both a photo and a video will garner 48% higher consumption. If you really want to maximize the power of visuals, interactive components like infographics and charts will skyrocket you to 77% more views when combined with a photo and a video. If you really want to get creative, make your whole press release an infographic. These are hugely popular and very impactful, and a graphic designer can easily whip one up to stay on budget.

5. Check yourself: Even if your press release covers the most groundbreaking, compelling news of the decade, readers – especially journalists – won’t take you seriously if it’s not well-written. Keeping your punctuation, grammar, and clarity on point will help you better hold consumers’ interest and respect your brand; prompting them to want to learn more and, with any luck, further engage. A poorly written release will leave readers assuming you and your company are unprofessional and will take the same care with delivering a service or product as you did with your writing. At the very least, have a trusted coworker who understands editing proof your work. However, working with a PR firm will guarantee your press release is not only written well, but contains messaging primed for connectivity.

6. Make a connection: Another thing that a successful press release should have is well-thought anchor links. The words you choose to anchor link can make a definitive impact on your press release’s search engine ranking, as well as its general “clickability.” For example, say your release is discussing your coffee shop’s award-winning lattes. For your intents and purposes, you’d be much better off using “best lattes in San Diego” to link to the award site or your company website over something like “award.” When people search for “best lattes in San Diego” in Google, your site and release will be associated with that term.

Press releases aren’t the only thing that can make a business successful on the web and in the press, but when combined with a careful strategy and solid media relationships, they can be a fantastic tool when leveraged properly for today’s consumer. To learn more about how the perfect press release and other PR and communications services can help your business stand above the rest, visit www.wrightoncomm.com.

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