Success with press releases involves more than writing your news and
distributing it on the newswire or submitting to editors. Press
releases are an important component of an integrated marketing program.

Today, some new rules apply to press releases. Editors are extremely
busy and you must work to capture their attention.  Your customers and
prospects get their news in a variety of ways, and search engines are
one of the audiences you are writing for.

Follow these tips to produce a winning press release that helps
increase visibility for your company and commands attention from
customers and prospects.

  1. Choose a newsworthy, benefit-focused topic. An announcement that is too broad or not relevant to your audience will not get media attention. If you are announcing a new product, focus on the benefits to the user. Answer these questions: what will this product do for the reader that no other product has done before? What are its real world benefits? You need to know your product and your customers to answer these questions correctly. Here’s another example: if you are announcing the launch of a new Web site, let your audience know why it’s a benefit to them, such as a new searchable catalog or downloadable specification sheets.
  2. Write compelling headlines. Press release headlines must tell the main point of the press release and give a compelling reason to read on. Example: “New Acme polyester composite shutters withstand recent hurricane, helping businesses re-open sooner.” This headline announces a product, ties in to a recent event, and delivers a benefit all in one sentence. What editor wouldn’t take notice?
  3. Use keywords near the top. The headline example above performs yet another duty: it uses keyword phrases to help optimize the press release for search engines. “Polyester composite shutters” is the keyword phrase. Using a generic description of the product in the headline is more effective than using the product name, unless the product is well-known in the market.
  4. Optimize the press release for search engines. The keywords used in the headline should be repeated two or three times throughout the body of the press release. Also, include a link back to your Web site or landing page in the press release. Most press release distributors allow links in the press releases. Write out the full link as your text, such as http://www.acmecompany.com rather than linking the words “Acme Company.”
  5. Give readers a reason to click through. Your press release should offer more than an announcement of news. It should provide a call to action for the reader.  Examples include: white paper downloads, free trials, special offers, podcasts, Webinars, or reports. If you do include a call to action, create a landing page to convert visitors who came via your press release into potential prospects.
  6. Include all the basic requirements. Make sure the press release includes your company name and contact information; an individual’s contact name, phone number and e-mail for handling any inquiries; and product information such as name, version number and date of availability.
  7. Mention customers. If your press release is product-focused, mention by name customers or technology partners who use the product. This adds credibility to your announcement and demonstrates market value for your product. However, you don’t necessarily need a third party quote. Editors rarely will use a quote from a press release. If you do use a quote, make sure it is benefit oriented.
  8. Distribute the press release. Use wire services such as Business Wire, PRWeb, or PRNewswire. These services offer comprehensive distribution and RSS syndication, and allow you to choose specific markets and sectors to reach. Those in your target audience who subscribe to specific news feeds via RSS may have the press release delivered directly to them.
  9. Send your press release to individual editors. Compile a list of media contacts in your geographic market and industry sector and e-mail them the release along with a concise summary. You can also suggest story ideas that demonstrate you’re familiar with the publication’s editorial coverage.
  10. Be prepared to answer questions. After distributing the press release, make sure the appropriate person is available to take incoming queries from editors whose interest you have captured. That person might be you, the product manager, or another subject matter expert. Prepare answers ahead of time for expected questions about pricing, customers, competitors and more.

4 comments

  1. I have a question regarding tip number 7. We have wanted to use our customers’ names in press releases of ours, but we have been hesitant to do so because we are unsure on legal issues. Are there any legalities involved with simply using a company’s name – meaning – must we get permission from the specific company to use their name “to our benefit” in a press release or something similar?

    Thanks!

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  2. This is a great topic for discussion. It would be interesting to see some other wire service companies, maybe some good free ones. Are there any out there?

    I question the linking format suggested in item 4. Keyword links returning to specific pages on your website help in Search engine placement. I would use “Polyester composite shutters” in the link text if those were the key words of interest, instead of http://www.acmecompany.com.

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  3. In response to the question from Digital X-Ray, it is best to seek a legal opinion from your company’s attorney. However, regardless of the legal issue, I would say that it makes sense for a company to gain permission from a client before using their name in a press release (we typically do). It doesn’t need to be anything formal, just mention to them that you are putting together a release on XYZ, and as one of our valued clients, we would like to mention you in our press release. More often than not, your client will welcome receiving the extra exposure. You don’t want to risk using a customer’s name if they do have an issue with it, as you could jeopardize your relationship with this customer.

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