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Reinventing the Press Release to Shine Online, Pt. 2

Keep News Items Short, Interactive and Optimized for Search Engines

As discussed in Part 1 of this 2-part blog series about “press releases” for small business, things have changed greatly over the years for the classic press release. With the advent of electronic communications and websites, we are talking major changes – not just updated writing style with hyperlinks added.

Press releases have evolved into a new category of web content. According to Janice Redish, in Letting Go of the Words, “Once that press release is posted to a website, it becomes part of an entirely different world.” Before, the press release was sent to specific people in the media, intended to spark their interest and encourage further contact with the press to expand on the story for publication somewhere. Usually the life span of such a press release was only expected to be one day or less, depending on how soon it hit the bottom of the trash can or crowded in-box. Today’s optimized “content releases” experience a different scenario, Redish says.

Characteristics of an Online News Release

  • Audience: Everyone
  • Life span: Forever
  • Distribution: Available through website home pages and search engine results
  • Use: Summary, fact sheet, basic product or service information; may stand alone, but more likely links to more details elsewhere on the website

In part 1 on Wednesday, I suggested a few creative ideas to help you know what to put in a news release on your website. Now it’s time to look into how to write and structure those releases. Basically, if you follow best practices to create content on the rest of your website, then the news release content should be consistent with your current online style.

Soovle keyword search

Top 10 Tips for Writing News Releases Online

  1. Start with a short, clear headline (h1). Estimates range from 8 to 22 words.
  2. Write easy-to-understand sentences of varying lengths to make up short paragraphs (3-4 sentences each). Total length should be 300-500 words. Remember, when online you are writing for the general public. Avoid technical jargon.
  3. Use 2 or 3 most important keywords so that people can find your release through a search engine, recommends BusinessWire.com. Find these words or phrases using free tools on the web (such as Soovle), but don’t overload the content with keywords. PRWeb.com suggests no more than 1 keyword/phrase per 100-150 words. It’s also a good idea to mention those keywords early–BusinessWire.com says the first two paragraphs.
  4. Break up content into short “chunks” divided by bold headings (h2 or h3)
  5. Put important information in bulleted lists, charts or tables.
  6. Include a graphic element to compliment the text. Don’t forget to include SEO-friendly title and alt text for any images used.
  7. Include relevant links from keywords in the release, taking the user to either a full copy of the report, a PDF of the product information, or another related page on your website. BusinessWire.com recommends linking early in the content, and link to more than just your site’s home page. Use anchor text keywords for linking rather than the generic “Click Here.”
  8. Clearly identify who the source of the news content is and provide contact information such as phone number or link to their email.
  9. Include multimedia elements whenever possible, such as embedded images and videos. Make sure the file name accurately describes the image and uses a keyword.
  10. Don’t forget to include your logo! That’s the image most likely to come up if someone searches for your brand name.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. No matter how small or large your company may be, there is always a good reason to share information with the public, your customers and the media. Don’t be afraid to get creative with story ideas as you toot your own horn. As long as you keep the content web- and user-friendly, there’s a good chance that people will use the information and even stay longer on your website to learn more about you.

For more about news releases and Internet PR, check out these online resources:

BusinessWire.com: Seven Traits of Highly Effective Press Releases

Podcast series: All Things Press Release Podcast

Entrepreneur.com: Video on getting journalists’ attention with John Jantsch

PRWeb.com: Learning Tools


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