One of the trends in PR today is that press releases are not
just for the media. The reins of power have shifted and PR professionals and
their clients can now get their messages directly to the public via news search
engines like Yahoo News and Google news. They are no longer beholden to the
media to get the word out.
The facts tell the story. According to Thomson Reuters and Experian Hitwise, Yahoo News is the top news website, besting CNN.com, MSNBC,
NYTimes.com, and USAToday.com.
That reality has given new life to the press release, which
has evolved to serve at least two purposes beyond its traditional role of tried
and true media communications vehicle: A sales vehicle to drive prospects to a landing page
provided there is a call to action in your releaseAn impetus to SEO provided your release is optimized for the
While the historic use is the press release’s claim to fame,
the other two roles are equally important but not as well used. Yet PR people
and their clients are missing a big opportunity if they avoid the other two purposes.
As Thomson Reuters notes in a white paper on SEO Press releases,
written in conjunction with SEO PR, today
your audience is your public. An astounding 61% of Americans get their news online on a given day with more
than half of online user getting their news from the search engines. While you would think that many are also using social media to get their news, a recent Pew Research Study says that “most Facebook and Twitter users say they hardly ever get their news there.” I sincerely doubt that will be the case in the future. We at least find that it is valuable to promote news on social media in that it demonstrably drives traffic back to our clients’ sites.
That said, someone researching information today is more than likely going to start with the search engines. That means if you are not in the search engines, you are ignoring the
biggest platform to tell your story and drive traffic to your website.
Fortunately, getting picked up by the search engines is not difficult thanks to
distribution services like PR Web, Thomson ONE Public Relations and others that
virtually insure your release will be indexed. Not only are you reaching the
public through the search engines, you are also more likely to be found by the
media, who actively troll the search engines for story ideas. According to 2010
PR Week Survey, 95 % of journalists use search engines to research
Just getting in the search engines is not enough, however,
if you want to have an impact. You want to rank highly in the search engines
and ultimately drive traffic to your website or landing page.
Thomson Reuters in its white paper presents some useful tips
that will make your press release work harder for you in terms of SEO and
ultimately sales leads.
Here are a few of these:
Insure your keywords appear in your headline, subhead and
first hundred words of your release. That is all the search engines typically
scan to index your release.
Don’t shy away from longer headlines. They allow you to
include more relevant SEO terms. The white paper compares two headlines. One
drove two times more page views than the shorter headline and resulted in one
Don’t forget to write for humans. Your ultimate audience is
humans, not search engines. It’s no bargain to get in the search engines if no
one bothers to read what you wrote–or take action.
One caveat. The original use of the press release as a media tool is far from dead. You still should send your release to relevant media. You can’t rely on the media you want to cover your release picking it up in the search engines. It still is a valid way to tell your story.
What are you doing to get maximum mileage from your press releases? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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Wendy Marx, B2B PR and Personal Branding Specialist, Marx Communications
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