I don’t often write press releases but this week I’ve been tasked to do so for an upcoming announcement. Nowadays, there are so many things to consider before you get started. With some of the more recent changes to the Google design and content guidelines, PR pros need to be aware of some old search engine optimization tactics that can now do more harm than good.
Here are some tips to think about before you start writing:
Use links wisely
For those of you who used to pepper your release with links back to specific product pages on your website relevant to your news, you can continue to do so. However, you need to make sure your links now have the “nofollow” attribute or are coded so that they are inaccessible to crawlers. This includes any links to the sponsor on the template (logos, package treatments, etc.) and any sponsor links within the actual editorial text. For more information on nofollow rules, see Google Webmaster Guidelines.
The links you include will continue to inform your readers of where to learn more about your story, but links in press releases will no longer have an effect on search engine optimization (SEO).
The more an article or press release is shared on social networks, the higher the rankings are on search engine results pages. So, you need to have something that grabs the attention of your readers and is going to make them want to share with their friends and followers online. This tip may not be new to most of you, but even today, there are so may PR pros who continue to send out releases without multimedia. Nothing tells a story like a visual image – press releases that include a multimedia component travel much further than one without.
Choose your distribution method wisely
Is your press release really “newsworthy” or is it something that could be better told through a blog post or article posted to your online newsroom? Don’t get me wrong – there is a time and a place for traditional web and wire press release distribution, but why not start engaging with your customers in other mediums as well? If you see that an article on your blog is really resonating with your audience (i.e. being shared on social networks), you can then amplify your message on publisher sites via a content marketing platform, share it on social networks or email it out to your customers. Save press releases for truly newsworthy subject matter and use other methods for connecting with your audience directly.
Always create quality, relevant content
While this is the last tip on our list, it is probably the most important. Before you start writing, think about your audience. Why do they care about my story? Press releases aren’t just for journalists and bloggers anymore. They’re sometimes the first piece of branded content that your customers stumble upon online when they’re searching for your brand. Write press releases that help your customers understand how your news affects them. Take the time to craft your press release in the way that you would want a journalist to tell it. As Convince & Convert’s Jay Baer says, the difference between “selling” and “helping” is only two letters, but the gap is in reality, much larger.