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How To Write A Press Release

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Press releases are an excellent way to get noticed by the media and to land on the front page of Google.  There is certainly a craft for writing a successful press release. Paid press releases are not cheap so you want to make sure to get the biggest bang for your buck (keep reading to find out multiple sites where you can post your release for free).  There are three major bases to cover when writing a press release:

1) Content
2) SEO
3) Call to Action.

#1 Content

Press releases should be concise and to the point; get rid of all the fluff.  You should always write in the third person and use bold, italics, bullet points, and subheadings to make the copy easy to read.  Here are the main content sections of a press release:

Headline:  Although the headline – title of your release – is first, this should be written last.  This will help you write a headline that best describes the release.  A person should be able to read your headline and know exactly what your release is about.  Of course you can leave some curiosity, but the headline should give the general idea.  Remember, our media friends are busy and often they scan only headlines and maybe summaries.  Mention your company name in the headline – “ABC Co. Announces…” or “ABC Co. Launches…” or “ABC Co. Partners with..”, etc.

Summary:  Some press release distributors allow you to add a summary which will come after the headline, but before the dateline.  This is a concise statement of what the press release is about.  This is similar to a subtitle with more details.  Write the summary as if this is the only chance you have to catch the media’s attention.

Dateline:  This is the city, state and date (e.g. “New York, NY. November 21, 2011:”) To avoid appearing outdated, you can omit the date.

Lead Paragraph:  Your lead paragraph should be concise and tell the who, what, where, when, why and how of your press release.  2-3 sentences is best.

Supporting Paragraphs:  After the lead paragraph, add 2-3 supporting paragraphs that give more details; avoid fancy words and jargon.  Pepper your release with an interesting quote or two from key people involved to add credibility and to diversify the content.  When writing your content always be thinking of the question, “So What?” (per Mark Magnacca).  Why should the media pay attention to your release?  What makes your story different and unique?  Editors receive hundreds of pitches and press releases every day so make sure your release is newsworthy and answers the “So What?” question.

Boiler Plate:  Do not forget this!  The Boiler Plate is essentially an “About” section that tells the reader about you/your company.  Keep this brief – about 1-3 sentences.  The media may not pick up this exact story, but they could be intrigued to cover another angle using you/your company so use the Boiler Plate to make your company stand out.

Contact Information:  Provide your full contact information including the name and title of the person who handles your PR – if it’s just you, that’s okay too!  Always add your company name, address if possible, email, website, Twitter handle, and phone number.  Feel free to add links to your Facebook business page/group and/or Linkedin too.

Related Post: I Can’t Afford A PR Campaign Can I?

#2 SEO

Keywords:  Before you begin writing, think about two keywords you can use throughout the copy.  Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find out what type of keyword phrases people are using.  A keyword is not just one word either.  Long Tail Keywords is a keyword phrase that is more descriptive (e.g. instead of “Yoga” a long tail would be “Bikram Yoga class in NYC.” These longer keyword phrases are less popular than a major keyword, but because there is less competition, it will be easier for you to rank higher in search engine results for this particular keyword phrase.  According to PRWeb, choose one broad search term and one narrow search term.  For example, if your release is about a new yoga studio in New York, a broad keyword could be “Exercise Class” and a narrow search term could be “Bikram Yoga in NY.”

Once you have your two keywords, also think of keyword variations of each term:  “Exercising” “Exercise” “Working Out” “Yoga Class” etc.

Related Post: Google Is The New Yellow Book

Where to use keywords

Search engine spiders crawl web pages from top to bottom and left to right so you want to place keywords towards the beginning of your headline, summary, lead paragraph and boiler plate.  Experts say to use keywords in the first 250 words of your release.

Anchor Text:  Links should be limited to one every 100 words or else your release may be marked as spam.  Carefully select the text you want to link.  Whatever you link should be a keyword or phrase:  For example, instead of linking “Click here” you can link “Bikram Yoga Tips.”  Search engine spiders read links to determine what your release is about, so instead of your release being about “Click here” it’s now properly indexed for “Bikram Yoga Tips.”

Tips 

– Use anchor text for 3 different keywords.
– Link to at least two internal web pages other than home page.
– The anchor text should link to a page that has content about the keywords used in hyperlink.

Conforming to Google:  To ensure that your press release headline and summary/lead sentence show up entirely in Google search results, keep your headline 63 characters or less and your summary and/or lead paragraph 160 – 180 characters including spaces.

Add a full URL:  Some websites will repost your press release, but will not post anchor text links.  In the lead paragraph you should type out an entire URL (http://yoursite.com) so at least this is visible.

Related Post: Kim Kardashian’s Lessons in PR

 

#3 Call to Action

A call to action is the next step that you want your target audience to take; it’s all about driving people into the “buying” process.  All copy whether it is a webpage, newsletter, or even a press release should have a call to action.  Be careful not to be “salesy,” but at the same time, you still want to drive traffic to your website, blog or social media sites.

Going back to our Bikram Yoga example, a call to action could be:

“Like Bikram Yoga NYC on Facebook and receive 50% off your first class” (make “Bikram Yoga NYC on Facebook” your anchor text…this is a made up company name for this example).

Or how about:

“Sign up for the Bikram Yoga NYC ezine to receive cool updates from our team and members along with specials and promotions.” (make “Bikram Yoga NYC ezine” your anchor text).

Other call to action ideas

  • “Follow ABC Co. on Twitter and be entered to win a $100 gift card.  Drawings are held quarterly and announced on Twitter. For every 10 retweets posted by you, we will enter your name again in the drawing to increase your chances.”
  • “Subscribe to ABC Co. newsletter and receive our free guide about XYZ which will help you 1,2,3.”
  • “Download our White Paper about how to A,B,C.”
  • “For every $100 you spend, $5 will go to FeedingNYC.org.  Visit ABC Co.’s products page to see what’s new for the holiday season.”
  • “Check out our online business directory here.  List for one month free to try it out!”
  • “Want to be a guest blogger for ABC Co.?  Click here to get the process started.”

Related Post: Testing Out New Products & Services (Ask)

Conclusion

In conclusion, a carefully crafted press release will help your chances of being noticed by the media and also will help with SEO, which will drive more quality traffic to your website/blog.

So how do you distribute a press release?  Here is a list of websites where you can post your press release for free:

Of course paid press release distribution is recommended:

  • PRWeb
  • PR Newswire
  • Businesswire
  • SEO Press Releases (affordable way to help you get on 1st page of Google!)

Resources:

  • “So What?” by Mark Magnacca

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This guest post is courtesy of Tasha Mayberry. She is the Founder of Social Media 22, a company that helps entrepreneurs create online visibility and generate new business from internet marketing.  Social Media 22 specializes in website development, website revamping, search engine optimization, social media marketing, public relations, and overall marketing for entrepreneurs and small businesses.  To receive a no-obligation, free Opportunities Report listing marketing enhancements and strategies specific to your business, click here.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

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Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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