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Writing and Distributing an Effective and Compelling SEO-driven Press Release

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People and Businesses operate in a dynamic environment with continuous changes happening within and all around it. Consider the following events in a company or professional:

  • Won a Prestigious Award
  • Renamed or Re-launched, Logo undergoes a Change
  • A Joint Venture is forged with the aim of a strategic shift
  • Expansion or Diversification
  • Acquired a Large Client or Order
  • Received VC Funding
  • Accomplishment in a “game-changer” HR Process or Management success through Lean, Kaizen – type initiatives

The list can just go on. How can a professional or a company use these events as leverage for their position?

What better than an informative Press Release? It creates the RIGHT BUZZ in the appropriate circles.

It is a proactive statement issued by a professional or company to news agencies; highlighting a piece of information that is newsworthy and valuable to the readers. Usually written in third person, a Press Release is a mode of gaining strong publicity by distributing factually correct information to media houses. It has to be persuasive enough to create visibility in news circles.

What constitutes a Press Release?

Unlike other forms of communication like Articles or Blogs where there is lot of scope for creativity and experimentation; world over Press Releases follow a well-defined format.

Boiler Plate

  • Press Release is always issued by the company itself or through its Public Relation agencies.
  • Every Press Release must clearly ascertain when it should be published. Usually it is FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE else a date has to be mentioned.
  • The acceptable length of Press Release is from 350 – 750 words split into 3-5 paragraphs.
  • There should be some specific quotes from the company spokesperson interspersed in the press release to add the human touch.
  • The boilerplate is standard information put at the bottom of the press release which includes company details like type of business and the website URL. This should be used very creatively to get all relevant information IN without overloading it. This is one of place where Press Release Copywriting skills come in handy.
  • A Press Release should have some important newsworthy content about the company which actually helps the readers. It is not a sales letter or an overt advertisement. There has to be some usefulness of the press release
  • Sometimes Press Releases can be used preemptively to protect the company against negative slander or criticism in case of some inadvertent issues. E.g. An auto company recalling back certain cars due to some technical malfunction. A press release issued by them often cushions the possible bad press which might occur due to the defect. It strengthens the integrity and image of the company.
  • A Press Release should NEVER be used to defame competition or their products. There are other avenues for the same.

There are some interesting posts on how to make your Press Releases deliver.

Who is the Audience?

There is a 2-level hierarchy in the Target Audience of Press Release.

  1. Journalist – These are first level people who receive the Press Release and judge whether it has a compelling appeal. Magazines always look for good content, stories and insights. The press release is printed by the magazine. Its effect bears on the image of the magazine. The usefulness of the Press Release for the magazine and its audience will always take precedence for the journalists’ analysis.
  2. Readers – These are the actual people who read the magazines. The job of a press release is accomplished only when these readers find them useful and act upon it. E.g. The launch of an energy efficient server farm is an event. It becomes news when it creates some opportunity for productivity or cost – saving for end-users. When people read about it and decide to utilize its services; only then the press release is truly effective.

Copywriting Press Releases is quite challenging since it has to pass two levels of audience. If the communication is unable to create a “connect” with the first level, then it can never make it to the second level.

How to make Press Releases effective?

According to Laswell’s Theory, a communication is effective if we are clear about Who is communicating What message Where (medium like newspaper, blogs, websites, magazines etc) to Whom (audience) and What is the Effect.

    • The Headline and Sub-Headline together decide whether news is IN or OUT. The focus of the copywriting effort should be primarily on these two sections.
    • Stick to the pre-defined format of a Press Release. It should never be tampered with. Keep the news restricted to the core points. If the journalists find it compelling enough, they will pursue it for a detailed story or interview.
    • Do not try to make a Press Release forcefully with any arbitrary news which might seem important for the company but not for the readers.
    • Focus on the body of the Press Release with strong testimonials. Zig Ziglar had said – the most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is INTEGRITY.
    • Press Release should be SEO – driven using right keywords since most of the news is online these days apart from being published in print. This often requires the need for professional copywriters who take Internet into consideration as a medium while copywriting Press Release.
  • The Press Release is almost issued by the Company itself and that might seem like “WHO”. But actually “Who is Communicating” is the magazine (s) that prints the Press Release. It is important to choose the right people/ journalists for the particular news.

    What is the message is the most critical aspect of a Press Release. The success of a Press Release lies in its Headline. The amount of news that is churned everyday and bombarded on journalists, a weak headline will positively ensure that the Press Release is NEVER published.

    Where your Press Release gets published is vital. Reach the right medium to target the right audience. The “Where” is directly related to the Whom. The probability of success of a communiqué depends on reaching the appropriate audience and target group. The credibility and perception of a good media house or magazine rubs off on the Press Release too. For an average reader it means the company is really worthwhile. It is also necessary that all Press Releases are updated on the company website chronologically.

Finally, in a Press Release, where the format and average length are predetermined and globally accepted, it is the STORY ANGLE that really matters. The success depends on the ingenuity of the Press Release Copywriter who manages to write a compelling story for your business and facilitates higher visibility by nailing the HEADLINE.

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