Content is king…and this applies to the good ‘ol PR tool known as the press release—or as I call it, the news release. Earlier this year while sitting in the Austin Content Marketing Tweetup ‘hot seat’ with my PRC colleague-in-crime LuAnn Glowacz, it was discovered we didn’t see eye-to-eye on the press release being alive and relevant today. As you can imagine, this made for a heated debate. In the end, we realized we were arguing nearly the same point: The traditional press release is both over-used and misused to an alarming degree today, causing many to label the tool as useless. The truth, in our opinion, is the modern news release is more useful than ever.
Traditionally, press releases were created to inform media—formatted for businesses and individuals to issue news to reporters and editors. It was assumed no one else would see, or cared, about the news except targeted press. Jargon and buzzwords were rampant, and in some cases unfortunately still are. Enter social anything and that press release is now seen by millions of people worldwide who are searching the Internet for solutions to their needs. Bye-bye old school.
And hello new. News releases in a digital world have been forced to evolve thanks to the Internet, search engines and RSS feeds to name a few. It’s not just reporters and editors reading the release for news bites, but bloggers, buyers, consumers, competitors, marketing, PR, and other professionals and influencers. Gone are the days of speaking to only journalists, and structurally writing them with third-party quotes with no call-to-action in mind. Below are a few basic steps to help you better understand what makes for a modern day press release that is still alive and wanted.
- When writing the news release, keep in mind there are more people reading it than reporters and editors. Speak to each audience you are targeting and be clear, concise, and focused on delivering the news. It is also appropriate, and optional, to create a news release for each audience specifically.
- Leave the marketing speak at the door. It’s not about hype and spin, but rather delivering news content that focuses on the need and how you meet that need. Overselling and losing the news in buzzwords will fall on deaf ears.
- Place links that direct to your website landing pages to further educate and inform your audiences to take action.
- Optimize news releases with keyword-rich content so audiences searching on the Internet can find you, your company and product/service, and in higher ranked in search engines such as Google and Yahoo! Note: It is highly recommended to have your website properly optimized with keyword tags to ensure search engines identify them.
- Add RSS feed options, embedded links to videos, graphics (ie., headshots, product shots), and podcasts, for example, to give as much information as possible to enhance the news. If you have a Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook account, be sure to include as well.
- Add sharing widgets also known as bookmarking widgets to help audiences share and push your content.
- Add social media tags for Technorati, DIGG, and del.icio.us, for example, to make your news release easily found and available.
In essence, be authentic and transparent with your news releases. If they find you, they will come.
Do you think the press release is dead or alive? What have you experienced in the world of optimized news releases versus traditional press releases?