Why Press Releases Still Matter to SEOs … and How to Write a Press Release that Entices Media
In recent years, search engines have devalued links coming from press releases — and while Internet marketers were less than thrilled over the loss of direct SEO benefits, press releases still matter — a lot. Press releases have strong branding value, especially if a journalist turns your press release into an article that will reach the masses and live online.
When a press release gets picked up, it’s not by chance; press releases that get turned into stories are written with the editor and the journalist in mind. They’re relevant, concise, engaging and error-free. I recently wrote about this topic in PR News’ “Media Relations Guidebook.” Read on for an excerpt from “Get Your Press Release Turned into an Article by Crafting an Engaging Message,” and find out how you can best leverage press releases within your Internet marketing campaign — and how to write a press release that entices the media.
Get Your Press Release Turned into an Article by Crafting an Engaging Message
Engaging press releases benefit all parties involved — journalists and editors get clued in on story leads, and brands and businesses are able to get highly valuable media coverage. How valuable is media coverage? According to Starch Research, news articles have “three times more credibility and six times more readership than paid advertising.” For more than a century, press releases have served as a direct line to media professionals and the starting point of many articles.
Editors and journalists are inundated with press releases. PR Newswire and Business Newswire alone send out more than 2,000 press releases a day. If you want your own press release to stand out among the daily flood of press releases journalists and editors receive, it’s essential that you:
- Only issue press releases that are truly newsworthy.
- Get to the point and be concise.
- Leverage statistics, quotes, photos and videos.
- Take the format, spelling and grammar as seriously as an editor will.
Whenever you write a press release, cater to the sensibilities of journalists and editors — they’re the ones, after all, with the power to turn your press release into an article. Read on to discover why these four factors make or break a press release for a journalist or editor.
Only Issue Press Releases that are Truly Newsworthy
Any time you issue a press release, consider whether the material is worthy of a news article. Is the information you’re providing in the press release going to be relevant to readers? Is your press release the starting point of a high-quality article? If you can’t answer yes to both of those questions, you shouldn’t be writing a press release. It’s better to send out one press release a month that is substantial than four that are insubstantial.
Journalists and editors don’t have time to read press releases that aren’t worthy of a story. Issuing a press release that is not truly newsworthy is a waste of your time and the media’s time. Moreover, a brand that issues irrelevant press releases will lose clout among the editors and journalists who read it — and they’ll run the risk of being ignored when they issue a press release that is truly relevant.
Newsworthy press release cover items such as:
- A grand opening
- A new product, service, book or program
- An upcoming event
- An award or recognition
- A donation or volunteer effort
- An acquisition
- VIP hires or departures
Get to the Point and Be Concise
A press release should be between 400 to 600 words and the first line should get to the point straight away. As a journalist would say, don’t bury the lead — media professionals want to know why they’re reading this, immediately — the reason for the press release should be clear in the first sentence. Dispose of any fluff — there’s nothing that will turn a journalist or editor off more quickly. Resist the temptation to engage in hyperbole.
Let’s say the CEO of an investment company just published a new book and the company is issuing a press release. Here’s an example of press release that a journalist is not going to finish reading, let alone turn into a story:
Are you ready for the book that is going to change your life and revolutionize the way you invest? It’s finally here! Throw every other investment book away and get ready to make money hand over fist.
A strong press release should open with facts and get right to the point. Here’s an example of that same press release, stripped of jargon and focused on the facts:
Kinsey Group CEO Grace Kinsey shares her top investment tips and insights — based on more than two decades of experience, her latest book ‘Financial Freedom 101’ will be released by McRiley House next week.
In this second version of the press release, needless hype is disposed of and, in the first sentence, the reader understands exactly why this press release is coming across his or her desk. With a lead like this, you’ll grab an editor’s attention and possibly get your press release turned into a story.
Leverage Statistics, Quotes, Photos and Videos
When journalists write a news story, it’s laden with statistics, quotes and usually includes an image. Journalists include statistics, quotes and photos to engage their readers; in the same way, press releases that include statistics, quotes and photos will engage the journalist.
Mickie Kennedy, the founder and president of eReleases agrees — in the “Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases,” he advises brands to use statistics, noting that “statistics are an easy way to show the consequence or weight off something, and journalists often cite them to convey the importance of information.”
Quotes from VIPs are also a strong addition to a press release, and often get pulled straight from the release and into the journalist’s article. Whenever possible, include a quote from the C-suite.
Press releases should always include a graphic element. In “Social PR Secrets,” The Buyer Group CEO and award-winning digital strategist Lisa Buyer asserts that embedding images images in press releases increases engagement by approximately 18 percent and linking to videos within press releases increases engagement by 16 percent. It’s clearly in a brand’s best interest to include a photo or video in their press releases.
Take the Format, Spelling and Grammar as Seriously as an Editor Will
Believe it or not, some press releases are issued with spelling and grammatical errors. This is unacceptable — a press releases with errors of this sort will not be taken seriously, and whoever issued it will lose credibility. Triple check your press release for spelling, grammar and formatting. Furthermore, make sure the press release is written in a third-person, objective and adheres to proper press release structure, including a headline, dateline, media contact and boilerplate — and bonus points for anyone who writes the press release in Associated Press (AP) style.
When you write a press release, keep the concerns of your audience — editors and journalists — at the forefront of your mind. Give your press release a fighting chance to get turned into a story by keeping them relevant, concise, engaging and error-free. These are the kinds of press releases that will grab the attention (and earn the respect) of the media.
Still have questions about how to write a press release? Share them in the comments!