Once upon a time, press releases were events unto themselves, for the attention they commanded and masses they reached.

Consider Michael Jordan’s famous, two-word fax announcing his return to basketball in 1995, as relayed by his agent, David Falk:Untitled1

… President Truman’s plea for understanding after Hiroshima …Untitled

… and, of course, any number of releases in the entertainment industry to burnish the image of a band, or a movie star.Untitled2

Press releases drew eyes. They were go-tos for information. Nowadays, though, press releases have it a bit tougher – they have a lot of competition, all vying for eyeballs in the ever-crowded digital landscape.

They’ve lost their primacy, for one thing. Given all the online channels now available to consumers, people who want attention often skip the press and go straight to the consumer. No press needed; no press release either.

For another thing, as you probably know, you used to be able to put follow-enabled links in press releases, to make it easy for people interested in your news to find out more. Google would note that traffic and take it into consideration in SEO rankings. This was abused and manipulated (surprise, surprise) and Google now may consider any follow-enabled link in a press release an unnatural link and an indication of spam.

But there’s still hope! A successful, accessible (and searchable) press release is well within your reach if you can take these tips to heart:

  • Make all your links in your press releases “no follow” links (adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the tag). These demonstrate to Google a commitment to education, versus spamming, and can go a long way to giving your releases credibility.
  • Be sure to include keywords optimized for your website – the same ones as those you’d use in getting your site found in search. An example: if you’re an ESP, you might look to highlight “email marketing,” “deliverability,” or “sender reputation,” for starters.
  • Craft compelling, provocative headlines for your press releases – statements that tap into current events, ongoing trends, and relevant conversations.
  • Support your headlines with pithy, compelling sub-headers. These can get you eyes, give context, and bring much-needed color to your copy.
  • Always start off every release with a one-liner at the top, accounting for your company’s brand and position. Make this statement standard to all releases you issue, so that it stands apart as something unique to you and the image you’ve cultivated for the brand.
CIO Review press release
In this example, the CIO Review regularly leads with this phrase: “The CIO Review, a leading technology publication that specializes in enterprise solution assessment…” to position itself.
  • Have a hashtag you’ve coined that’s unique to your brand and social pages? Make it front and center of your press release! Include it in the boilerplate language as a CTA for readers to engage, and a way to discover more information about your product.
  • In today’s digital age, multimedia can make for a very important supplement to your press releases. Most wire services available nowadays will allow you to add pictures and video in your press release, so take advantage of this opportunity if you can. This gives you the chance to own Google Image and Video real estate for the keywords you tag, and lets you add further searchable text via descriptions for each image and video.
  • It goes without saying, but bears repeating: there’s just no discounting the power of today’s social media channels. With every release you publish, make sure you include language after the boilerplate that allows readers to follow and engage with your company’s social pages. Some examples: “Join the conversation on Twitter, circle us on Google+, friend us on Facebook and get to know the company on LinkedIn.” Check in the process that you hyperlink each and every channel you mention, to make it easy for readers to follow you.

Act-On social boilerplate

At the end of the day, press releases have an important part to play in your company’s overall communications strategy, and they deserve respect and attention.

Manage your press list

Just as you market by segmenting your subscriber and customer lists, you can do the same with your press lists.

For instance: you might segment lists based on the beats that the reporters cover, or by region or by focus of publication, and so on. If you have products in different verticals, then you can develop a strategy for each product and each vertical.

You can use a system like Act-On to steward influencer relations – by sending out press releases and pitches via marketing automation. Why? Because you can track the members of the press who have opened your emails, the links they have clicked on, and the actions they go on to take after reading your announcement. You can also see which of your web pages they’ve looked at.

The engagement data that marketing automation captures will help you as a PR person gauge the interests of your influencers – are they interested in corporate happenings, your product, or your culture?

Marketing automation will help you paint the picture of the influencer and better understand what part of the business is of utmost importance to them. Act-On engagement data can help you formulate a targeted pitch or provide insight on when and how to follow up.

What if you knew one of the press members from your list was on your website right now looking at a page for your new product? What if you could be alerted to this, in real time? You could earn points with them for knowing what they care about by following up with them in real-time – armed with strategic talking points based on the actions they have taken with your content.

Find Your Influencers

Influencers can have a large impact on your target demographic, and provide quick routes to a trusting relationship between you and your future customers. Influencers can help you build your brand, and save you massive amounts of time while doing so. If you haven’t leveraged the power of influencers in your marketing strategy yet, now is the time to start.

If you’re interested in diving into Influencer Marketing, download our free whitepaper, Best Practices in Social Influencer Marketing. In this whitepaper, you will learn how to attract influencers, how to incorporate them into your overall social strategy, and the four main components of influencer marketing.