Is the Press Release Dead?

Yes, sort of. The old-fashioned document you faxed to a bunch of editors and reporters is dead.  The more recent idea of a “social media press release” is also dead—it did more for the PR agency that invented it than it did for people seeking coverage. Yet that doesn’t mean that an evolved press release is not still a powerful marketing tool.  What is different about press releases today is how they are written, what is in them and how they are used.

Writing the Evolved Press Release

Headlines used have to catch the eye of an editor. While that is still important, writing for search engines is at least equally important. Include your most important keyword in your headline. Make sure the body of your release is just as rich in keywords. Use subheadings and bullets. You might even put some of the more important sound bites as bullets before starting your main copy.
–>The key take away—make your release easy to scan and make sure it is written with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind.

What Goes In the Evolved Press Release

Old-fashioned press releases announced news. That is still the case today, but it is by no means enough. The evolved press release also includes:

  • Links: Link to relevant pages and blog posts on your site. Offer white papers and resources to download.
  • Quoted Source Information: Consider including connections to LinkedIn bios, onsite corporate profiles, photos, and published commentary.
  • Rich media: Include charts, photographs, even video that is relevant to the release.
  • Sharing widgets: Include widgets for connecting to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Make it easy to share your content with an “email this” widget. Experts are advising against social bookmarking. Lee Odden, who writes the Online Marketing Blog says it is “social media suicide because Digg users are 99 times more likely to Bury social media news releases than to Digg them.” http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/04/five-dont-with-social-news-and-bookmarking/
  • Metadata: You need to write a meta title, meta description, and well-researched keywords, and include them with the release. If your release is picked up, editors will find the keyword suggestions helpful. On press release distribution sites, metadata helps your release get found.

Using the Evolved Press Release

Sending your press release to actual members of the press still makes sense, but it is only a first step. You can use your release to get links by submitting it to a reputable press release distribution service like Business Wire or PR Newswire.  Be wary of free press release submission services as they are full of “spam” press releases—sales pitches with the word “news” pasted at the top. Your release is unlikely to get picked up from any of these free services and the links will not be high value ones in terms of SEO. Make sure to post your release on your site. Use html so that search engines can find your release more easily than they can a pdf. Give the release to your sales staff. They can send it to prospects and dormant clients as a way to stay in touch.  Releases can also be used as part of a sales kit.
–>And don’t forget to Tweet! Once your release is on your site, make sure to schedule Tweets about it. Link back to it from your company’s Facebook page and LinkedIn profile. Have your SEO team do a little link building with relevant blogs.
Far from being dead, a well-written, newsy, release rich in content can help with SEO, with attracting links, and can have a long “afterlife” as a sales tool.

1 comment to Is the Press Release Dead

  • Great tips and insights, Merriam. The social media press release seems to have had its day in the sun…in the end they’re all press releases–or news releases, depending on your semantic preferences. Next year we’ll be talking about some other twist on their effectiveness. Meanwhile, press releases continue to be one of the most underrated online marketing tools around. Thanks for the perspective.

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