Latest posts by Jay Dillon (see all)
- Which Social Media Platform Is Best For Your Business? (FB, Twitter, IG?) - February 8, 2016
- The Role of Social Media Manager in 2016 - February 1, 2016
- Why Placing Ads In Blogs Can Be A Negative - January 4, 2016
The line between public relations and social media exposure can sometimes become blurred in today’s inbound marketing world.
Since the Panda and Penguin updates of 2011 and 2012 respectively, Google has sought to provide better quality content and web connections, placing preference on sites affiliated with reputable names or quality publications.
Press releases provided the perfect opportunity to profit from that. Since then, press releases have evolved and nowadays don’t really carry the authority or reliability they used to, mainly due to so many businesses using them solely for self-promotion and backlinks. This has made it much harder to get relevant news/announcements approved and published on major news outlets. Press release syndication platforms such as PRWeb are also costly and don’t work for restricted budgets.
Despite all this, social media press releases are still beneficial for SEO in 2015.
What’s the difference between a social media press release and a plain old press release? A social media press release can also be used to launch posts and promote via social media, or even for writing a blog article based on that press release (obviously adding more visuals and reformatting), whether it’s an announcement or update of a new product/service. A social media press release can also be used as a base template to work off of for your social media marketing.
Keep in mind that press releases should not be a high priority in your marketing, but if you’re going to include them in your SEO strategy then it’s important to first understand the current status of press release tactics as well as their basic format. This article is here to inform on both.
Press releases have traditionally been successful as a content marketing tool due to the many benefits that sometimes go beyond just SEO, such as:
- Visibility and referral traffic: It’s not all about optimising for search engines because each news site that picks up your press release is going to have its own audience, which that means you’ll have fresh new eyes seeing or reading about your brand for the first time.
- High-quality authoritative sites: Usually when someone picks up your press release it leads to publication on high quality sites with good authority. Why? Because these are news sites (ideally within your industry) that are dedicated to providing and publishing high quality information.
- Keyword linking opportunities: As long as your social media press release is written in-house then you have the opportunity to associate your business with relevant keywords using anchor text. For the example below, CMC is a site that targets Spain and sells cheap reliable mobile phones made in China. That press release can then contain links in keywords such as Chinese Mobile Phones and the make and model of the latest mobile phone released.
- Quality inbound links: If your press release does get published, you may gain natural links from several outside sources.
- Using Google’s Trending Topics will improve your results or help correspond your business to certain topics.
- Incorporating images & avoiding boring pure text: a social media press release has to reflect the visual content dominance and at least have a logo to appeal.
- Use your social media press releases for social media marketing: If you’re already summarising an announcement or event that has to do with your business, why not recycle content, tweak it a bit and publish as a short blog post or status update via all your social media outlets?
When you create a press release, it’s usually to summarise an announcement on a new product, service or something planned for your business. Ideally, you want to get journalists, magazines in your industry, blogs, and news outlets to publish this press release. If done right, press releases can be a very cost effective way to generate lots of free publicity for your business. If done wrong, it’s most likely to end up in the trash folder immediately.
Let’s look at the ideal format and top tips for an effective press release, plus an example of an effective press release I recently wrote.
How to Format Your Press Release
- Start with your name and contact details (email, phone number, company logo) at the top followed by a release date. “For Immediate Release” is what is most commonly used.
- Title (Headline) should be a topic that is newsworthy, maximum of around 100 characters or less, including the primary keyword. Keep it short, keep it interesting. This is the initial hook to get eyes to keep reading. Try not to confuse readers with puns or language that’s too abstract.
- A Quick Summary Paragraph, italicized, should be added right below the title with no more than 300 characters and it should briefly touch on the main bullet points of the press release.
- Body. Start off the body of your press release with a location (much like newspaper articles do) in capital letters with the current date. Then get to writing that effective press release that contains only vital information that will get the journalist to want to cover a story on it or get the news outlet to directly publish it.
- Deviate from the traditional narrative where the exciting part comes at the end, include it right at the beginning and use subsequent paragraphs to support it. This is often referred to as the “inverted pyramid” method in journalism and PR.
- Adding quotes from important figures or clients in your company can also be a big help. For example, maybe a quote that reinforces your announcement from the owner or CEO. This way, you get to add more personality to your press release and go beyond the standard third-person press releases.
- About section. Make sure to finish the press release with an About paragraph that includes who you are, what you do and why the people reading your press release should even consider publishing your news. This part is usually in third-person and takes on a more neutral tone (imagine the “about” page/section of your site). If there is more than one organisation discussed in the release then include this section for each party.
- Finish your press release by adding the hash symbols (###) to signify the end of your press release. This is known as the end of content marker.
Take a look at this recent example of a press release I typed up for a mobile phone distribution site called CMC, in the format described above (excluding the About section at bottom and ###’s as end of content marker):
Take a look at some more formats for different types of press release.
Other common questions about press releases
How long should a press release be?
As a personal rule of thumb, I think a press release shouldn’t be more than 500 words. Including sub-headings and bullet points makes information easier to follow, especially if your press release includes figures or statistics.
Where should I send it?
First consider who you’re writing for (including audience and magazine, newspaper, journalist or blog). Take some time to find the contact details of someone in your industry. One well-researched contact in your area can end up being more effective than hundreds of recipients of a massive email campaign. Tailor your press release to catch the eye of the publisher you’re sending it to. Be sure to label emails containing press releases with the phrase ‘press release’ or ‘story idea.’ A great subject line is also a must.
Press releases should be sent by email but definitely avoid sending to generic email addresses since they don’t get checked as frequently. In other words, make it your mission to find out the contact information of someone who’ll be able to make a decision about whether or not to run your story.
Knowing how to write a good press release is an essential skill for any small business to be able to gain media coverage. Bottom line, press releases can still fit into your SEO strategy both for external link building for SEO and if published, improve your brand’s reputation with authority sites. Nevertheless, maintaining a solid social media press release strategy requires a lot of detailed attention and a budget that allows for distribution.
As mentioned earlier, they should not be a top priority but they can be a cost effective strategy to expose your business and gain publicity. If you already have the majority of your SEO strategy hammered down, then social media press releases become a quality addition with the potential to boost authority. Why not get started on your first press release right now?