Does your brand need to acquire more prospects? Does your organization need to reach new potential members or donors? Are you promoting an event that needs more participants? Is visibility in search engines important for your organization’s web site? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might want to consider news releases as part of your communications arsenal.
Services like PR Newswire reach far beyond newsrooms. When we distribute your content, it will be seen on hundreds –if not thousands—of web sites that re-post PR Newswire content. Across the web, those messages build awareness of your message and brand. But that’s not all they do.
Each of those postings turns your press release into a portal straight back to your organizations web site, providing a mechanism for your organization to capture the interest generated by the press release and turn it into action, such as registering for an event, downloading a white paper, engaging with more related content on your web site, or sharing the content socially.
But here’s the catch. The content your brand issues actually has to be interesting and useful to your audiences. You can’t phone in anything you create for the organization you represent that’s destined to live online, press releases included. Every scrap of content our brands publish – Tweets, blog posts, videos, web site copy and, yes, press releases – become digital ambassadors for our brands. They better represent us well. Because in addition to influencing audiences, social signals influence search engines. Social proof is weighed heavily in the algorithms that determine search rank.
Here are a few tips for writing press releases that will generate awareness among new audiences and ongoing online visibility for your brand.
Write from the audience perspective, not the brand’s. Instead of loading the headline and lead with phrasing such as “XYZ Corp, a leading provider of gobbledy-gook, today announced the unveiling of a new something-or-other …” writers need to lead with information that the audience will value. The press release needs to be written in the audience’s context – how the announcement will make their lives better, solve their problems or save their companies money.
Include a call to action toward the top of your message. If you have succeeded in garnering a reader’s attention, capitalize on that immediately by giving them a link to follow that will take them directly to a related page on your web site. Do not squander interest by making your readers read to the end of the copy, only to find a link to the company’s homepage.
Use news releases do drive discovery of the content your organization publishes. If you’re using a blog post to provide additional commentary on an unfolding industry development, use a press release to promote that post. If your organization has invested in the creation of a video or a white paper, drive online visibility for that new asset and alert more people to its availability by issuing a press release about the content. The trick to success with this tactic is to include one or two key bits of information in the message. You have to give the readers a little value to entice them to click over to the full content.
If you’re not convinced of the power of press releases, consider the following:
Why newswires work: the results of a little experiment I did with press releases in November that (to date) has garnered more than 1,300 new readers to the related blog posts.
I’m not saying one should choose issuing press releases over other tactics. Far from it. A hammer will never replace a screwdriver. Both are important tools, but both have specific functions. Communicators today need to be thinking in terms of multi-channel, multi-platform communications. That means deploying a mix of different messages and across channels and audiences, in order to build maximum relevant exposure for brand content.
Want more examples and ideas? I’m hosting a free webinar on February 26 about press release tactics. It’s going to be a deep dive into the nitty-gritty of headline writing, press release formatting, ways to keep building reader interest, incorporating calls to action for different audiences, encouraging social interaction…you get the picture. Here are the details:
FREE WEBINAR: Tactics for Maximizing the Results of Your Press Releases
Press releases have the potential to yield enormous benefits for an organization, including building online visibility and driving long-term brand exposure in addition to securing media coverage. But in order to obtain these results, the news release your organization publishes must be engaging, conducive, and inspire social sharing. Learn how to create press releases that can compete with the best of the web’s content for audience attention on this free webinar.
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the ebooks Driving Content Discovery and New School Press Release Tactics. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.