If you’re in public relations, investor relations, or marketing, there’s a good chance that press releases are part of your communications program. They’re a trusted means of targeting news and company announcements to media, investors, customers, and other key audiences, and a proven driver of brand awareness and earned media coverage.
But too often, press release distribution is treated tactically, and as a one-time event. Write the release, distribute it, then move on. They’re written and distributed without much consideration for how they can make a measurable and sustained impact in supporting a company’s business strategy.
How can you be more strategic with your press releases? By including them as part of your integrated communications program – as content that can attract attention from media and customers, increase your company’s share of voice (SOV), drive qualified sales leads, and more.
In our newest eBook, How To Be More Strategic With Your Press Releases, we look more broadly at press release distribution and how you can improve their performance and business impact by considering three fundamentals: content optimization, monitoring, and measurement.
Keep reading to learn more.
How to Write Better Press Releases
As discussed in our new eBook, use these best practices to write better press releases.
An effective press release starts with good content. When we think about optimization, we almost immediately think about search engines and how to make our content discoverable. Search engine optimization (SEO) is important to your releases, but you shouldn’t be writing only to please Google’s algorithm. You also need to consider the humans who are reading your releases, and make sure you’re creating content for them, too.
Here are a few optimization tips from our eBook:
Know Your Keywords - Before writing your press release, 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 into your release, rather than force-fitting fitting them in after the fact. (Tip! Social listening can be an invaluable tool for this kind of keyword research.)
Use These Tips for Better Keyword Placement and Links:
o Press Release Headline: Keep your titles under 60 characters. Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag, so by keeping your titles under 60 characters, you can expect about 90% of your titles to display properly. Short headlines force you to prioritize relevant keywords, which in turn maximizes your visibility to search engines. Limit your use of “filler” words.
o Press Release Subheadings: Use Google Autocomplete to find keywords for your subheadings. Keywords are much easier to place in your subheadings. Use Google Autocomplete to find search terms that are closely related to the ones you’re pulling from your research.
o Your Press Release Intro (The First 100 Words): Your release will rank higher for keywords when they’re placed in the first 100 words than it will when they’re placed later in the text. Just as your release’s headline becomes the title of your Google SERP listing, the first sentence of your release becomes the description (the two lines below the headline).
o Press Release Anchor Text Links: Your press release shouldn’t include more than two links. Google has publicly stated that they make efforts to ignore links in press releases, but this doesn’t mean you should avoid links altogether. Links to relevant product pages or an event registration, for example, are fine, and provide a relevant, measurable call-to-action for readers.
o Press Release Image Alt Tag/Alt Text: Include keywords in the metatext for your images. Compelling images, videos, and other media can boost press release SEO. Including keywords or related search terms in the alt text for your images increases your chances of being found via Google Images. When including an image, use a standard file extension name such as .jpg or .jpeg and name the file with a title that includes keywords and effectively describes the image.
Use Multimedia to Boost Engagement
You can create a far more comprehensive and engaging press release and increase your chances of getting coverage 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. (Tip! Media Snippets are interactive multimedia modules that can be seamlessly embedded into your GlobeNewswire press releases.)
Publish in Your Online Newsroom
An online newsroom is the perfect place to host your releases and build relationships with the media. More than just a page with links, your newsroom should be an online content hub to showcase press releases, earned media, social media, contact information, and more – consider it a one-stop information destination for the media.
Media Monitoring and Social Listening
It’s important to proactively listen and monitor the conversation about your company and industry even before you write the first word of your press release – not just after it has been distributed.
People may be talking about you or the subject and tuning in early can pay off with more relevant and informed content and messaging.
Here are a few monitoring tips from our eBook:
Use Social Listening to Inform Your Press Release Content
For maximum impact, you want your press release to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. Through social 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.
Watch for Social Media Reaction
In today’s increasingly complex media mix, more and more coverage is taking place outside traditional outlets - monitoring coverage across blogs, podcasts, social media, and other sources is imperative. Beyond tracking earned media coverage, you need to know the reaction and sentiment on social media, both positive and negative.
- See How Your Messages Are Resonating
The social reaction to your release also provides real-time clues to how well your key messages are connecting with your audience. Did people “like,” share, or comment? By following the social conversation, you’ll better understand message pull-through, and how your keywords resonated with your key audiences (or not).
After you’ve distributed your press release, it’s time to shift your attention to measuring its performance. It’s important to know as much as possible, from how many people opened your release to what earned media coverage happened as a result.
Here are a few measurement tips from our eBook:
Keep Tabs on Earned Media Coverage
A common way to measure earned media is to look at the number of articles or posts, But for a fuller picture, you need to examine the type of coverage, placement, and reaction. Did your press release generate pickup from a prominent and relevant media outlet? Was there substantial message pull-through? Did it get picked up by an influential blogger or was it ignored on social media? It’s not just about the numbers – context is important!
- Take Advantage of Tracking Links
The tracking links in your press release are an easy and effective way to measure engagement. 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.
- Act Now and Plan for the Future
Once you have measurable results, use them to respond to immediate needs – such as handling media inquiries or customer feedback – and to shape your overall PR, IR, or content marketing strategy. If something worked with your press release, like specific key messages, linked content, or audience targeting, consider it for your next release. If it didn’t, it might be a good idea to revisit messaging.
Tip! When you distribute your press releases through GlobeNewswire, you can take advantage of three unique reports to better understand the impact of your content:
• Newswire Analytics help you measure the performance of your releases; instantly see the number of people who viewed it, social media shares, multimedia engagement, link click-throughs, and more.
• Media Impact reports show you the online earned media coverage resulting from your releases, giving you full access to the articles align with exposure, sentiment, and key topics metrics.
• Coverage Books help you showcase your earned media coverage and topline performance metrics in customizable, fully branded digital reports.
Thanks for reading this important blog on how to write better, more impactful press releases! And don’t forget to download our new eBook, How To Be More Strategic With Your Press Releases.
We’re certain you can take the tips and best practices we provided to improve both the performance and impact of your releases so that they drive measurable results for your organization.