For many public relations teams, press releases are an integral part of a communications strategy. But too often, press releases are written and distributed without much consideration for search engine optimization (SEO), reader engagement or how they can maximize business impact.
How can you be more strategic with your press releases? The key is to treat them as part of your integrated communications program – as content that can increase sales, attract attention from media and customers, increase brand awareness, and more.
Here are seven key practices to help transform your next press release from a box-ticking exercise to a high-performing piece of content.
1. Know Your Keywords
Before you write, it’s important to identify your target audience and develop a keyword list that matches your message. Thinking of the keywords and keyword categories early lets you incorporate them organically, rather than after the fact. The result is a much more natural, well-written (and better-optimized) release that builds your company’s credibility as a news source.
2. Place Your Keywords and Links Strategically
There’s valuable real estate in a press release, so use it wisely - starting with the headline. Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of your release headline, so best practice is to keep it brief, with the most important information as early as possible in the headline. Different sites display headlines abbreviated at different points, so ensure the most important information occurs within the first few words of your release headline. And don’t forget to use your subheadings and intro text for keywords as well.
3. Follow SEO Do’s and Don'ts
To engage your audience and hold their attention, “do” write in short, declarative sentences and keep your headlines short as well. When selecting words, “don’t” choose hyped expressions like “one of a kind,” which sound too much like ad copy. Limit filler words, like conjunctions, in headlines. All caps in a press release should also be avoided.
4. Use Multimedia to Boost Engagement
Words are powerful, but you can create far more engaging and better-optimized press releases by including embedded (and downloadable) images, videos, audio clips, graphics, and other media. Not only are you piquing interest in your topic, but you’re also making additional storytelling assets easily available for journalists.
5. Listen to Social Media Conversations
For maximum impact, you want your press release to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. Through social media listening, you can gain valuable insights into consumer sentiment, trends, and your competitors’ activity. You’ll also be able to identify keywords in the conversations and determine what to emphasize – or avoid – in your release.
6. Take Advantage of Tracking Links
The tracking links in your press release are an easy and effective way to measure engagement, whether it’s from the media or sales prospects. For example, you can use specific tracking links to see who registered for events or product demos, or who downloaded resources. Similarly, you can track inbound traffic to your website from hyperlinks in your press release.
7. Measure Performance
If you’re not analyzing key metrics after every release, you’re missing valuable, actionable information. Post-distribution reports can tell you the number and location of people who viewed your release, social media shares, multimedia engagement, link click-throughs and more. You can even see earned media coverage resulting from your releases to let you tie ROI directly to your efforts.
Read the eBook, How To Be More Strategic With Your Press Releases, for more helpful tips to improve the performance of your releases.