Beyond PR

Nov 10, 2015

How to Write Press Releases: Best Practices for Content Discovery [SlideShare]

Best Practices for Content That Get Found

The fall news cycle is full of stories that are competing for readers’ attention and clicks. Politics, weather systems, football scores, quarterly earnings reports, the latest entertainment buzz – your news is competing against all of the content on the internet, not just your competition’s news or other news in your industry.

How can you make sure that your story rises above the din and gets in front of the right audiences when there’s so much competition for attention?

Although different types of press releases have different needs, they all have one thing in common. They need to be engaging.

If you want your press release to be discovered – by search engines, journalists, customers or investors – your entire press release process needs to be focused on providing an engaging experience for your audience.

On their own, an eye-catching photo, interesting headline or robust distribution aren’t necessarily going to save a press release that has been carelessly planned and executed in other ways. From beginning to end, you must be thorough and consistent.

The following four steps will get you started when crafting a press release that cuts through the clutter and makes a lasting impression.

1. Identify how your press release fits your audience’s big picture.

Your audience isn’t a nameless, faceless crowd. They are customers, writers, and analysts. What are they buying? What are they sharing? What are they writing about? Use this insight to serve up press releases that fulfill these needs.

Understanding your target audience will also help you identify the best way to reach them. Determining the right distribution method—whether that’s a broad, general interest newsline or a more targeted, niche option—is going to get your news in front of the people who will care about it most.

Your news release will have a built-in audience if you identify key players who will take your release to that next step by sharing it, writing about it, or acting on it. That means better search results and better discoverability.

Avoid the Numbers Trap

2. Identify the story that will resonate the most with your audience.

Sensational clickbait aside (“This woman saw a kitten on the side of the road. You won’t BELIEVE what happened next!”), your release should present key information that answers the “so what?” for journalists and gives customers something to sink their teeth into.

There will likely be multiple ways to answer your press release’s “so what?”; however, you need to pick the one that will resonate the most.

The best story is the one that not only piques your audience’s interest, but keeps them reading and drives them to take action.

This engagement is essential to your press release’s discoverability because when audiences engage with content, it signals to search engines that the story is high quality. What that means for your press release is the right set of eyeballs on your content and higher placement in SERP.

3. Identify the visuals and content assets that will take your audience deeper.

Think about your own content consumption habits. Which story are you most likely to click on: The one with the picture or the one without?

Images and other visuals are known to increase views online and give you extra mileage with traditional news media. It’s no secret anymore that they’re important to catching and keeping a reader’s attention.

However, in addition to photos, graphics and video, consider whether you have any other content assets such as research reports, product demos, or white papers that complement the press release, demonstrate your authority, and propel audiences to explore your brand’s story further.

4. Identify the format that’s easiest for your audience to digest.

Once you know what parts will make up the press release’s whole, you have to turn your attention to how it’s going to be packaged. Consider the following best practices when formatting your content:

  • Keep your headline concise, but informative. Google displays the first 65 characters (including spaces). Get the most important information up front.
  • Use a good subheadline to expand and provide additional context. Search engines pull in a subheadline, too. Take advantage of this by giving readers a reason to click.
  • Include a key call to action early on in the release and use a full link as opposed to anchor text.
  • Make it easy to digest with skimmable bullets and quotes.
  • Optimize your text and visuals so that they’re easy to share, tweet, pin, etc. Include a click-to-tweet link and create graphics that are tailored to social networks that you can repurpose in your owned channels.

The final piece in the press release puzzle is to measure the success of the different tactics you try. While the above tips are all proven best practices, some may work better than others on your target audience.

Review and compare how different types of multimedia, formatting, and story angles performed against others. You’ll likely identify areas of opportunity you can adjust in future communications.

Download our white paper Avoid the Numbers Trap to learn how to find the meaning in your reports. When you continuously tailor your strategy to your analytics, you’ll get a lot more for your budget and your ROI.

You can also check out our companion SlideShare for more tips on creating press releases that rise above the noise of the 24-hour news cycle.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services with more than 20 years’ experience counseling brands on their content. She also authors Beyond PR’s long-running Grammar Hammer series. Follow Cathy on Twitter @cathyspicer and tweet her your #grammargripes.

3 Comments on Blog Post Title

­ Nick 07:29 EST on Nov 11, 2015

Hey, Catherine!

Great insight!
I’m also a strong believer (and stats prove it) that images contribute a lot to sharing of content and to content consumption in general.

I’m also a fan of click-to-tweets. I guess you should some time take a look at TweetDis plugin. I think you’ll love it

­ quinn miller 15:24 EST on Dec 1, 2015

Thank you, will pass along this link…

­ Jeremiah Say 15:00 EDT on Oct 9, 2016

I spent a lot of money on PR on sites like PR Newswire and PRweb but have very little results in terms of clicks to my website. If I used the money spent on PR, I would easily get 1000x back if I invest it on Stumbleupon (paid discovery) or Facebook ads.

In my opinion, paid PR increases my SEO (long-term) but doesn’t drive me much traffic (I’d say less than a 100 clicks to my site) for 3 paid release (Close to 1k usd)

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