The reign of the press release was brief, yet impactful. For a few years (or could it have been a few months?), it seems like every business in the world was sending out weekly press releases, and every SEO guru was championing PRs as foolproof ways of generating significant Google traction.
But oh, how the mighty have fallen. Press releases don’t pack the same search ranking/ link building clout they once did, and as such many companies have flat-out discarded them. Meanwhile, those SEO gurus have pronounced press releases to be dead and worthless.
But that’s not entirely fair. It is more important than ever to be precise in the way you employ a press release — but in doing so, you can certainly make a big impact, and you can certainly enhance your brand.
Truthfully, press releases should be in every content marketing toolbox — assuming that they’re used properly.
The question is, how do you make your press releases matter?
Start by Having the Right Goals
Again, if you think your press releases are going to engender a lot of SEO traction or serve as effective vehicles for authoritative linking, you’re living in 2010.
But while press releases don’t automatically trigger miraculous Google results, they do go out to actual media companies, reporters and bloggers — so if your angle is enticing and your release is well crafted, it’s not at all impossible to get exposure with real, human readers. And what brand doesn’t benefit from that?
Report on Actual News
Related to that: If you want media types to pick up your story and help spread it around, you’ve got to give them a story worth spreading — an angle that their readers might actually care about.
In other words, refashioning a blog as an opinion-style press release probably won’t work. But reporting on actual company news, promotions, developments or industry trends? Now that could be newsworthy.
Get to the Point
I’ve seen press releases that exceeded four pages in length — which is frankly ridiculous.
Remember that you’re trying to win the attention of people who see a thousand press releases every day, and honestly have better things to do than wade through page after page of your yammering.
Most press releases can be condensed to a solid page — two pages at the most.
Make the Headline Snappy, Engaging and Specific
Promise real value, and make it clear what the news angle is. Then, follow through with content that actually matches the title. No bait-and-switch tactics!
Like I always say: You can write the best content in the world, but if the title sucks then it’s all a complete waste.
Take Advantage of the About Section at the Bottom of the Press Release
People really do read these, and they really do click on the links back to your company website. Anyone who is interested enough to check out your press release will be interested in learning a bit more about your brand, so don’t waste this precious real estate. Offer a strong value proposition, social media links and a Web address.
Remember that press releases aren’t dead, necessarily — but they are what you make of them. So make something out of yours.
What makes a press release memorable to you? Let me know in the comments.