PRNews Writer’s Guidebook: How to Write Creative, SEO-Friendly Press Releases in the Digital Age
In this second edition of PR News’ Writer’s Guidebook, the necessity of communicating well in writing is met with more than forty articles detailing how best to write press releases, emails, speeches, biographies, backgrounders, crisis communications and annual reports.
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A tweet might be the best way to maximize interest in your message, but a press release is still considered the Holy Grail for communication. With the emergence of digital technology trends, industries are finding ways to navigate the rapidly changing landscape. While many find the press release to be an antiquated method of delivering content, the way in which it is presented and published can have a major impact on a company’s business goals.
Now, more than ever, the shift from traditional media to digital media has significantly altered the practice of media relations. One of the biggest tactical challenges facing PR is whether the press release is dead or alive. After all, PR is changing faster than the media it heavily depends on. What has remained consistent, however, is the need for creative content, which is a vital component of any successful brand activation campaign. No matter what you call it or the form it takes in the digital age, the press release will always be an important part of the PR strategy.
A key component of any content marketing strategy, the digital press release informs clients, customers and the media of new and ongoing company developments. Taking the time to craft a compelling press release that is adequately suited for the digital space is critical. Aside from the basics of writing like a journalist, the digital shift calls for the need to implement new digital trends in the content creation process including the use of multi-media elements and online distribution sites, search engine optimization, and creative content to share via social media.
A press release is an opportunity to not only extend your brand, but to connect with your audience through creative storytelling. There will always be a need to leverage the press release, even if the look and sound of it changes from a standard document to a video pitch. Keeping the digital landscape in mind, PR professionals need to think more like journalists than ever before.
From social media influencers to industry decision-makers to bloggers, there are all sorts of individuals you might want to keep in mind when crafting a digital press release. In addition, everyday consumers have morphed into news editors, as social media has created a platform for user-generated content. While the digital space is a tough landscape to navigate, success depends on your ability to shape your brand story in a unique way.
Despite the Digital Age altering the basis of what makes an effective press release, easy access to digital information and dissemination has instigated an influx of pitches. After all, just about anyone can write a pitch and blast it to contacts, forcing journalists to cipher through a massive amount of pitches on a daily basis. The demand for substance is higher, as the digital shift provides an opportunity to create engaging and interactive curated content with massive reach. In addition to delivering creative content, your audience is looking for credible communication.
Besides the basics of thinking like a journalist, you can take strategic steps to implement new digital trends that will help your press release stand out in a sea of press releases.
Decide in advance what you can send with your press release to increase the chance of coverage. Images are highly desired and reportedly boost visibility by 70% on social channels. Incorporate multimedia elements that can be repurposed for news websites, blogs and social platforms.
In addition to quotes, try and send more than just company logos and headshots of executives quoted in the press release. Research shows that photos and videos drive meaningful engagement. It is important to brainstorms unique ways to tell a story visually across multiple platforms. Also consider a sharing platform like Dropbox to dissimilate your content.
Press Release Distribution Sites
Leverage press release distribution sites that are credible and trustworthy, providing a platform to help you reach influential stakeholders. Sites such as BusinessWire and PR Newsire can help your press release reach mass consumers just as quickly as media gatekeepers.
Keyword Search for Content Optimization
Always keep search engine optimization at the forefront of your mind when crafting a digital press release. Remember that press releases are often housed on corporate websites or widely distributed online. Include keywords and links to help you achieve good rankings by understanding the popular words and phrases being searched for as it relates to the topic of your press release. You can then tweak your keywords to make your press release more SEO ready.
Social Media Ready
Make your content easy to share via social media platforms. Be sure your headline fits in the 140-character Twitter limit, and incorporate links that allow readers to easily share with their followers.
Connect With Your Readers
Creative writing that grabs attention and connects to the reader is an important piece of the implementation process to ensure that your press release gets picked up and shared. Content should use engaging language, as well as follow correct grammar and punctuation formats. Compelling images, relevant infographics and well-developed video segments are great tools to effectively engage your readers to ensure that your press release is impactful in the digital arena. Create vivid imagery that captures the attention of your audience and sparks meaningful engagement.
Using this outline as a guideline, a successful digital press release should:
- Highlight a brand’s story, not the brand
- Have a creative and thought-provoking headline
- Contain the relevant information audiences will be seeking
- Be shareable for social media
- Include multimedia content to drive engagement
- Be formatted with proper spacing and bullet points for readability
- Always include a boilerplate paragraph including contact information for media inquiries
While the form of the press release might change over time, the facts, digital elements and newsworthiness still need to be at the core of its foundation. There will always be an interest in hearing your brand story, just as long as you know how to leverage the right tools to deliver your story effectively.
You can download the full guidebook here.