7 Things You Must Include in Your Online Press Release
Like most pieces of the marketing world, the press release has certainly evolved with the Internet. Gone are the days of putting together a simple text document and faxing it to the local news outlets. These days you can create a multimedia masterpiece and distribute it around the globe in moments. And instead of hoping that it’s picked up by a business journal or trade magazine, you can see it spread and multiply on websites, blogs, Twitter, and beyond.
Within this changing format, however, come a few new requirements. While it’s never been easy to get attention from the press—online or off—the proliferation of services like prweb means that you need to do even more to stand out in the crowd. It’s not enough to be newsworthy; today’s releases need to be eye-catching, as well. To help you generate the buzz you need, here are seven things you need to include in your online press release:
A killer headline. Nothing you write is as important as the bolded words at the top of your release, because they are going to determine whether it gets read—or simply passed over with all the other “background noise” writers and editors have to sift through on a daily basis. Whether you have to write a dozen headlines or a hundred, don’t stop until you find one that’s so interesting you can barely stand to look away.
An attention-grabbing first paragraph. While not quite as critical as the headline, your opening paragraph is going to carry a lot of weight as well. We live in a world that’s short on readers, but heavy on scanners. If you’re going to hold their attention long enough to make your point—and much less get them to go to your site or take some other action—your lead is going to have to be interesting, informative, and mistake-free. Give viewers a reason to stay with you, and they will.
A photo. Where would the Internet be without pictures? I don’t know, but I can tell you where your press release will end up without one… in the desktop recycling bin. It’s human nature to be drawn to images—especially faces—so try to put something interesting front and center. It won’t guarantee that your release gets read, but it might buy you an extra second or two.
The right keywords. You probably already know that search engines love online press releases, so make sure you feature the right keywords and phrases. Whatever kind of traffic you’re attempting to draw to your website, make sure it figures into the copy you include. In fact, most services will allow you to attach a set of keywords all by themselves, so include them just like you would tags on a web page.
The right release date and time. If your site doesn’t go live until Wednesday night, don’t set your release to go out on Monday morning. The same is true of events that take place on specific days or times. If you have any doubt at all about when your release will go live, double check to ensure that you’ve set it correctly—the wrong message at the wrong time can render your release a complete waste of time.
A strong bio or company description. Want readers to follow up on your release? Then make your company or background sound interesting. This isn’t to say that you should play with the truth, of course, only that you should highlight whatever reasons people might have to find out more about you.
Contact information. Speaking of which, it’s important that readers who are interested in finding out more actually can find you. Having a misspelled URL on your press release is like putting the wrong social security number on your taxes—the kind of minor mistake that can really ruin your day. Be sure that the website, e-mail, and phone number you have listed are the ones you would want people to actually follow.
While the Internet has done strange things to the traditional print media, it has only served to make press releases more important. Because they still alert the world to what’s newsworthy in business—while enhancing search engine positioning at the same time—they make a great tool for bringing attention to your company. Just be sure you include each of these seven elements; you can send a press release without them, but if you do, you probably shouldn’t expect much in return.