Can your press releases still be effective? With digital marketing they can!

Digital Marketing Innovation
November 17, 2014

Tip of IcebergPurist Public Relations professionals need not read further. Why? Google is the Wall Street Journal of the Web.

I’m going to discuss the 5 reasons as to why Press Release Optimization is critical to any organization and business considering managing and maintaining their public image. BTW: I’m not a scientist, I’m a professional who’s been doing a lot of digital marketing, public relations and search engine optimization for a long time.

Traditionally, press releases served to communicate vital information to key members of the media. Classic press releases were distributed to newswires and so on. However, with the proliferation of search engines and social media and the radical adoption of search engines, a new approach has emerged. Many digital marketers have found that press releases are not one dimensional, they can be considered a part of multi-tiered strategy to achieve certain objectives such as creating awareness, driving sales/acquisition and engage customers.

Multi-tiered from an targeting stand point: By this I mean, that there are really three types of audiences in order of importance with a focus on “the message” mainly what is it that you are about to communicate?

  • Distribution Channels
  • Members of the Media
  • Constituents

There are two points to keep in mind, 1) distribution channels are dependent upon the media consumption habits of your constituents. By media consumption, I mean, how are your constituents acquiring information. And, 2) distribution is indeed your target audience.

Now that I’ve laid out, high level, the multi-tiered thinking, what we should do is quickly discuss why we’re doing this and the data to support it:

  • 75% of the media, according to Jupiter Research, use news search engines.
  • 85% of Americans online use either a search engine or social media, Pew Research
  • Press releases due its content rich nature are naturally search engine friendly

A couple of what if questions. What if you were in the business of a new programmatic advertising technology and a staff writer at Time was doing a roundup of cutting edge programmatic advertising technology who went on Google, did a search for “programmatic advertising companies” and couldn’t find your company or press release in the search or news results pages? What if the staff writer, because he/she couldn’t find you, didn’t know you had an exciting product, went on to write about your competitors and other unknown companies? Then your management reads the article says, hey, we would have been perfect for this round up, what happened?

The story above has happened to companies countless times. The PR team have their top-tier lists, yes, you and thousands of other PR firms and individuals are trying to get the big piece of media coverage on a handful of top publications, online or otherwise.

Now before you go and edit your release, revisit and audit your boilerplate. Yes, this is a persistent and constant element that will help your press releases bubble to the top. I had a client who wanted their press releases to come up for hotel suites yet they didn’t even mention it in the boilerplate a representation of the brand position. Yikes!

Now let’s focus on the how to do this on a press release:

  1. Determine the message and who you’re communicating to.
  2. Research the appropriate keywords and determine a primary term and a few secondary terms.
  3. Draft copy (minimum 500 words) based on your terms but make sure your primary term is included in the headline.
  4. Determine appropriate anchor links to take folks to appropriate areas of the website.
  5. Decide whether rich media and imagery is appropriate
  6. Select appropriate traditional and online newswires
  7. Setup a search engine ranking solution* and measuring tool** to measure effectiveness of your releases

*Advanced Web Ranking or Webposition

** Google Analytics (it’s practically free)

For your enjoyment I pulled this from Wikipedia:

“The advent of the Internet has ushered in a new kind of press release known as an optimized press release. Unlike conventional press releases of yore, written for journalists’ eyes only, in hopes the editor or reporter would find the content compelling enough to turn it into print or electronic news coverage, the optimized press release is posted on an online news portal. Here the writer carefully selects keywords or keyword phrases relevant to the press release contents. If written skillfully, the press release can rank highly in searches on Google News, Yahoo or MSN News (or the many other minor news portals) for the chosen keyword phrases.

Readers of optimized press releases constitute far more than journalists. In the days before news search engines, a press release would have landed only in the hands of a news reporter or an editor who would make the decision about whether the content warranted news coverage. Although the news media is always privy to online press releases in the search engines, most readers are end-users. Optimized press releases circumvent the mainstream media which is formerly—but no longer—the gatekeeper of the news.”

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