In this article, we will cover the basics of press releases that you should know for strategic digital marketing: how to write them, best practices, and how they fit into your SEO strategy. The goal of writing a press release is to generate positive publicity for your organization. A press release is a great way to generate publicity around a corporate milestone, brand promotion, or noteworthy event.
Choose A Topic
When choosing a topic for your press release, ask yourself a few questions: is this topic newsworthy? Do people want or need to know about this topic? Is a press release the ideal medium to share this information? If your answer to these questions is YES, you can begin writing.
The 5 W’s
Where to start? Many writers start by listing out the answers to the 5W’s.
1. Who? Who is the press release about? Who does the news pertain to?
2. What? What story are you telling to the broader public about your organization? What’s happening?
3. When? What time is your event happening? For how long?
4. Where? Where is your company located? Where is your event? “Where” can refer to an online location as well.
5. Why? Why is this a significant event? Contextualize your message.
The typical format for a press release is as follows
- Headline – your press release’s title, containing the main purpose
- Sub Headline – 1-2 sentences summarizing the release
- City, State, and Date
- Body – 2-4 paragraphs going into more detail
- Boilerplate – general company description
- Contact Information – the PR contact plus their job title, email address, and phone number
The format will vary slightly depending on which PR distribution service you’re using. Here’s an example:
Give your press release an attention grabbing title that’s to the point. You want to attract the attention of news reporters and readers. Keep the overall length of your press release short – this isn’t the right forum for verbose language. The writing should be concise and professional. While it’s not necessary to stick to a particular style guide, you should defer to the editorial guidelines of your PR distributor. Research existing press releases in your industry to get a feel for the style and tone. Insert just one hyperlink to your website from branded anchor text (e.g. Wpromote). Choose a reputable PR distribution company (For example PRWeb or PRNewswire). The Panda updates penalized free submission PR sites much harder than established sites. Even pay sites have been penalized; however, they are working with Google to take steps to remedy this issue and stay legitimate.
Press release distributors allow you to target your audience by location and industry, so assign your parameters accordingly. Schedule your release early in the morning on a weekday in order to maximize visibility. If applicable, add a photo or image to make the PR more eye-catching. Most press releases include a quote from someone affiliated with the company writing the PR, to infuse more personality into your message.
Benefits For SEO
The benefit of press releases for SEO is controversial; there are pros and cons to using them as part of your strategy. The influx of natural links from many authoritative sources is indisputably helpful for SEO. When many high-quality news outlets publish your press release, this sends signals of trust to Google. Furthermore, these added links help to diversify your backlink profile and establish brand credibility. Press releases allow you to reap the benefits of the broad readership of these major news outlets, providing brand exposure and referral traffic. It’s important to note that links from media placements are the KPI of a press release, not traffic or conversions.
Press releases can also be a tool in online reputation management if you choose to include your brand name in the title. This is because when users search for your brand name in Google, many of the newspapers that publish your press release will show up high in the SERPs. This is advantageous because it allows your company to craft its own brand narrative.
Negatives For SEO
Press releases are very costly, which is the main reason for any controversy on their merit. If everyone who could afford to send a press release did so, it would dilute the overall value. Press releases have undoubtedly lost some authority over the years as so many businesses use them for self-promotion, and Panda updates target thin content. However, if you’re sending a press release with newsworthy content and not spam, then this will not work against you. Note that the cost suggests they are not the best tactic for very small budgets.
Duplicate content also comes into play in any discussion about potential downfalls of press releases. Since the media outlets that pick up your press release are syndicating the text, links will be coming in from identical content pieces. Because of the nature of press releases, this means that each link will be worth less than inbound links from unique content. That being said, the added domain authority of the news sites still makes it worthwhile to distribute.
In conclusion, if you use press releases for the purpose they were intended for, you can benefit your SEO campaign, your overall digital marketing strategies, and your brand reputation.