King of the Content Castle: How to Write an Effective Online Press Release

By Maureen Streett – Director of search and social at Atlanta interactive marketing agency, What’s Up Interactive.

You’ve heard it before: Content is king.

But what makes the difference between a so-so announcement about your company, and a rock star online press release that gets picked up by Google, blogs or media?

First let’s make an important distinction: the goal of traditional press releases and online press releases differ. A traditional release is most often pitched – traditionally – to the media. Online PR is an [in my opinion] underrated interactive marketing tactic to grow your visibility and traffic digitally.

So, it is a simple yet effective piece to any marketing tool kit…but what separates the good from the bad? Follow these best practices when crafting content to ensure your online PR efforts are worth the time:

Craft a compelling headline

Who said college Journalism classes wouldn’t come in handy? A compelling headline sets the tone for potential readers, AND often shows up as the blue link of a Google search result. Compelling = clickable.

Don’t forget your brand!

A press release on a high-traffic site can show up at the top of search results. That is valuable real estate YOU can be taking up, in addition to your own site and/or blog. Mention your brand in the headline and towards the top of the release, and reap major benefits in the long run.

Example
: You [Atlantans, mostly] may have heard of Highland Beer Fest. A story from our local online newswire, Atlanta Daybook, about last year’s festival still appears at the top of Google for the search, right under the event’s main website. A bit of keyword research reveals about 500 people/month search the term “highland beer fest” in Google. That is 6,000 impressions/year with the distribution of one news release.

Link back to your site

Ultimately online PR can be considered a form of link building. Increasing the number of links back to your website boosts your SEO, and over time can help you show up more often in search results. So, whether it’s in the contact information, body copy or about us section… link back to your site.

Note: not all online PR sites allow hyperlinking, and some may charge a fee. It simply depends on the channel you’re using.

Optimize your boilerplate

Finding it hard to incorporate keywords into the body copy? Use your boilerplate. These snippets are a must-have, and can be easily tweaked. Update it to reflect your products and services, using highly searched terms – or even create a couple versions to prevent keyword overload. They often end with a mention of your URL – don’t forget your Twitter handle, Facebook page or other social call to action!

A holistic marketing strategy includes both offline and online public relations. While the short-term goals of each tactic differ, they dovetail nicely – creating multiple touch points for your potential customers to hear about you offline, and come across you digitally, too.

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