Sending out press releases across the Internet is a little different than just sending them out via email to newspapers or magazines. Much more planning needs to go into preparing a press release for your online audience. Trying to reach everyone in cyberspace about your new product release is next to impossible, and reaching your target audience is something that takes a time to plan a strategy for.
The most important thing to remember about press releases and articles you want to release on the Internet is this: what you might consider important just might not be that important to the world at large. The key to creating successful press releases is understanding who will find this information intriguing enough to call you to investigate a little more and create a story out of your information.
Back in the day, stuffing the keyword meta tag with more than 100 keywords might have helped you rank well. This was also the time when launching a new website or applying a new design was newsworthy. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), those days have passed, and marketers, web site owners, and public relations experts need to find more interesting hooks around the more mundane informational announcements that presidents and CEOs insist are "most newsworthy."
These days, press releases need to be more creative to catch the interest of the target audience. Press releases also need to be "found," or "stand out" among a sea of thousands of others being released every day.
Since the advent of the Internet, the technology distribution advancements has been both a blessing and a curse—a blessing because it makes it a lot easier to reach more prospective outlets, but a curse in that it’s made it easy for everyone else on the Internet, including your competitors, to do just the same thing as you are.
So how do you make your articles and press releases stand out? How do you get your press release found or have it picked up? Here are a few tips for creating, optimizing, and distributing your articles and press releases.
Define and Know Your Target Audience
First things first, you need to understand that your target audience is not "everyone on the Internet". I once heard a superior of mine state that our target audience was "everyone, everyone’s eyeballs." Not everyone cares that the CEO won this award given by this basically unknown company; however, your customers, industry publications, or even your competitors might.
Press releases and articles, just like websites, have target audiences. Knowing who your audience is helps you decide how to speak to the person you want to eventually read your information.
If you decided who your target audience is ahead of time, it can be a tremendous aid in creating interesting angles, facts, and information for the content of the article or press release. By honing in on an audience, it can help you create the title and hook of your press release that will appeal directly to them. Lastly, knowing who your target audience is helps you define the best keywords to optimize your press release or article.
Define the Keywords for the Press Release
Now that you have defined who your target audience is, you can research what keywords you should focus on. Keyword research helps you hone in on reaching that target audience with more refined detail, and it also helps you to be found in a sea of thousands of other press releases.
The crawlers that the search engines send out to your web site can read press releases and articles if they are displayed as HTML on a web page or written in a program like Microsoft Word and then transformed into PDF format for easier distribution. With this knowledge, you now can understand why even researching keywords for press releases is important. Web pages rank in search engine results, and that means if your article or press release is about a certain subject, it has the potential to rank in the search engine results.
Create an Eye-Catching Hook
Every hour of every day, thousands of press releases are being distributed through websites, emails, article submission sites, RSS feeds, and press release distribution channels such as PR Wire and PR Web. That’s a heck of a lot of "noise" to compete with and try to stand out from. Online marketers need to stop and think about what will make this press release or article stand out. Why is it newsworthy? Who will care? Is this information unique among your industry? Does it offer some revolutionary new service or product that will make your target audience’s life better or easier?
Creating the hook and knowing how and why it will affect your target audience's lives is important to know how to pitch the press release to media outlets in a more personal way. This way, rather than just releasing the press release to the distribution channels and praying "because you released it, someone will write about it," you have a reason to give them why they should write about the subject.
Optimize the Title of the Press Release or Article
Just like with pages on your website, each article or press release should have an intriguing title that is optimized around words or phrases. Doing so will entice the reader to click through and read more. Optimizing the title around the keywords you've chosen with your research will also help your press release or article be found when conducting searches.
Making the title interesting and intriguing will help drive the traffic to your website where the press release or article is located or on the distribution site where you've chosen to announce the press release.
Send an Image with Your Press Release or Article
Including and image that is related to your press release makes the article more appealing than something that just contains all words. Most readers shy away from "text" laden articles and press releases, so by adding images, you help to make it easier for your audience to read. Another factor to consider when contemplating adding images to your article or press release is that since the launch of Google’s Universal Search and the subsequent 3d Search from Ask and Blended Search from Yahoo, images are fast becoming another way to make your content stand out.
You can embed the image directly into the press release document or article. However, if you do that, consider offering links for the reader to actually download the image in different types of resolutions for their use. Encourage them to utilize your picture from your site. This not only helps promote your press release, but can also have the added benefit of obtaining some image optimization and traffic as well.
Ask an SEO to Look at the Press Release
If your company has access to an SEO (search engine optimization) agency or consultant or is lucky enough to have the talents of an in-house SEO, it would be worth your time to actually have this person go over your press release for any recommendations he might have for better optimization. A fresh set of eyes that are specifically trained in optimizing content for the web and how your company's subject matter should be placed can go a long way in helping your article or press release be found in the search engines.
Decide Which Distribution Channel to Use
Believe it or not, blasting your press release out on services like PR Newswire or PR Web may not always be the best course of action to take. Neither is submitting your article to 20+ article submission sites. In most cases, these types of services will work just fine; however, before just defaulting to putting your press release out on the services, stop and think about a more personal approach that could get you more quality coverage in your own market space.
Many news and media outlets consider it as you "scooping" your own story by blasting your press release or article out through these services and won’t even give your article or press release a second glance. If you have a really great angle, a hot story, or something so exclusive that it truly is big news for your company or your industry, you should consider taking the personal approach by selectively contacting a handful of media outlets about your press release. Offer to give them exclusive or perhaps semi-exclusive rights to the story a few days in advance of the official press release.
Taking these steps creates not only a genuine interest but also a great relationship with the media outlet you are working with. It also helps get your news covered from a few different angles, which is more than just the one from your press release. As some might balk at this idea, it’s likely a much better scenario that gives your news more creditability and increases it’s chances of actually being covered, rather than just wallowing in the depths of press release service with 1,000 other press releases.
The next time you are writing a press release or article for your company (and your company's motto has always been "write and release" by default), perhaps taking the time to go through these steps and putting a process in place would be beneficial to your company's online marketing efforts .
Remembering that your audience isn't everyone, and driving qualified traffic — and not just "noise" — to your website is key towriting successful articles or press releases. You could be pleasantly surprised by your results after utilizing these suggestions. A little extra effort in optimization can garner extra attention to your content..