When a business sends a press release, no matter what kind of search engine optimization and social media buzz it creates, there’s a spoken or unspoken wish for media coverage. (That is why they’re still called press releases, even in an era when most of the readership will come from Internet users rather than the traditional news media.)
And, while no set of tips or best practices can guarantee that the media will pay attention to your next press release, there are certainly five ways to insure that they ignore it.
Bad Writing/Planning Dooms a Release
The headline on your press release matters. Like the subject line of an email, it’s that vital first impression that either grabs attention and fairly screams “open me”, or subtly encourages the reader to delete it. For more tips on writing a clickable, SEO-friendly headline, click here.
Bad grammar, typos, and poorly written copy reflect badly on the business that sends the press release. It’s a waste of time for editors who would have to correct the grammar before reposting or excerpting from it. For more tips on writing press releases that get noticed, click here.
Planning for your press release is important for three reasons. First, planning allows for good targeting. Failing to target a press release correctly is the #1 mistake small businesses make, according to Miranda Tan, CEO of MyPRGenie. For example, if you want to get the word out about your announcement, have you asked your employees to send important press releases to their personal networks and contacts? To post a link to the company’s news on their LinkedIn profile? Did you add your customers to your press release distribution list? If not, why?
Short & Simple Press Releases Rule
The first paragraph of your press release is no place for background or fluff. Get straight to the point with a “hook” in the first paragraph if you hope for anyone to read further.
What’s a hook? It’s the reason why a reader should pay attention to your news. Instead of simply saying that you have a new product, tell people why the new product is important.
Keep your press release short and simple, without extra padding or fluff. If you’re using a newswire to get high Google search ranking for your release and reach the broadest possible audience, keep the press release to less than 400 words. If you don’t, you’ll probably incur an excess word cost. Even if you’re not using a wire services for your press release, keep it under 500 words for maximum impact.
Link to additional information from the body of the press release, and include additional resources (videos, downloadable fact sheets, white papers, and so on) that those who are interested can access rather than trying to tell the whole story in a single press release.
A Picture Really Is Worth 1,000 Words
If you’re not including high quality jpeg images with your press releases, or offering videos that can be embedded in news reports, then you’re missing one of the best ways to increase coverage. Whether your goal is press coverage on TV, in print, or online, a great video or photo can make a world of difference.
For more information on how to use videos and images in your next press release or PR campaign, download MyPRGenie’s latest white paper by clicking here. For information on how to find high quality, free or very low cost images that you can use without copyright problems, click here.
MIA Media Contacts Make Reporters Suspicious
Issuing a press release without a contact person’s name, direct email, and direct phone number means that you’re trying to hide something. Or at least that’s the viewpoint of many journalists and reporters. Survey after survey, year after year, reports that many journalists immediately send press releases without contact information to the recycle bin, because they don’t have time to search for a contact when they need additional information.
A cover note isn’t enough. Press releases get forwarded, copied, and even printed in hard copy – so many sure that the appropriate media contact (company or agency or both) is at the top of the press release where it’s easy to find.
Even if the contact information is in the release, however, it’s important that the designated PR contact be available to take calls – especially the day the press release is sent out. This is especially important if you’re sending a release to global contacts – note your time zone if your phone will be turned off when it’s night in your home city, but the middle of the business day in the country where your press release was distributed.
Journalists hate having to make phone call after phone call to track down someone who sent them a press release, and most won’t bother. If you miss their deadline before getting back to them if they call, so does your news, and you probably won’t get another chance for coverage.
SEO & Keywords Drive Traffic
One of the reasons the MyPRGenie public relations platform is so valuable to small businesses is that it’s the high-traffic MyPRGenie site is visited by the search engine “spiders” every 45 minutes or so. That means that keyword optimized press releases posted on our site are indexed quickly by the search engines.
But no matter where your press release is posted, if it doesn’t contain keywords that the search engines can recognize and index, it’s hard for it to be found. This blog covers the basics of writing press releases with SEO-friendly headlines and copy often, but here’s a recap of the most important things to remember.
- Pick 2-3 keywords to optimize for in each press release.
- Use those keywords in a headline or subhead, and at least twice in body copy.
- Keep the flow natural – don’t sacrifice good writing to fill a press release with fluff just to get in a few extra keywords.
- Use the tools built into the MyPRGenie platform to help you optimize your press release.