There are several reasons your business might need to distribute a press release. Maybe you’ve just launched a product or won an award. Maybe you’re rebranding or you’ve rejigged your team. You might think that you need an expert team of public relations specialists, but you’d be wrong. With this guide, you and your team can become masters of writing and distributing your own press releases.
In this article, you will learn what a press release is, why you should write one for your business, how to make it interesting and how to get them published free of charge. You won’t need to pay extortionate agency fees to gain media coverage. This is the easiest, and most cost-effective, marketing strategy that you are likely to come across in 2020.
What is a Press Release?
A press release is a written story that provides specific information about an event, circumstance, product launch, or anything interesting going on. Click To Tweet The idea is to provide readers with a snippet of extremely relevant information. This story, or press release, tends to be linked to a specific business and aims to get published across a variety of media and press outlets.
Why Write a Press Release?
There are two key reasons your business might want to write and distribute a press release. Firstly, spreading your latest news will contribute to your overall marketing strategy and help you achieve business goals. Secondly, distributing press releases could boost your search engine ranking by increasing the number of referring links to your domain.
Incorporate PR into the Marketing Mix
By incorporating in-house public relations into your marketing mix, you could be helping your business to:
- Increase brand awareness
- Generate sales
- Increase customer engagement
This is why writing a press release as part of your marketing strategy is always worth doing, especially when it is low-cost and all done in-house. Quadrant2Design have been writing and distributing their own PR, without agency advice, for several years. Their efforts have got their brand name into local, regional and national titles as well as industry-specific publications.
By writing and distributing a press release to multiple platforms, you are getting free publicity and access to a large and varied audience. This allows you to extend your brand’s reach and connect with a new customer profile. Overall, spreading your story across several media outlets with a varying audience will increase your brand awareness and introduce your product or service to a new group of people.
PR for SEO
Content marketing has been a buzz word amongst media professionals for several years now. Everybody is trying to produce the most engaging and interactive content to connect with their customers.
In the hunt for attention-grabbing content, businesses are shelling out a small fortune for AV material to share on their website and social media. Even the blogs we posted back in the Myspace days have had a makeover, with companies that blog receiving 434% more indexed pages than those who don’t according to these blogging statistics. Blogs have been proven to increase website traffic by up to six times, but that’s not the only reason businesses are utilizing this type of content.
To rank well on the search engine result pages (SERPs), you have to have a strategic SEO strategy. This includes several things for on-page SEO such as image optimization, shortening URLs and utilizing keywords and latent semantic indexing. Another important factor is off-page SEO which, in almost all cases, refers to backlink building. Building a strong, healthy collection of referring links to your domain will see you climb the SERPs in no time. And guess what, business websites with blogs generate 97% more referring links than those without. This is why effective marketing requires strong onsite content.
Another way to build a backlink profile is to guest-post for other sites. Writing a guest post or contributing an article is when you write a piece of content for an external website, including a link to your own site either within the body of the text or within the author bio section. This is the most widely used backlink strategy.
PR Distribution to Gain Backlinks
When you think about it logically, distributing a press release is essentially guest blogging. So, why aren’t we all writing press releases!?
The truth is, people think that PR requires training and a skill level that their team does not possess. Outsourcing the task of writing and distributing press releases to a PR agency is too expensive. This is not the case. If your business has a blog and an in-house team of contributors then you have everything you need to run your own PR.
How to Write a Press Release
If you can write a blog, then you can write a press release. In fact, you’ll probably find it extremely easy to do so. The trick is to provide newsworthy information in a neat and concise article. Think 500 words that highlight the five W’s of an interesting story:
- What happened?
- Who did it happen to?
- When did it happen?
- Where did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
When you come to distribute your story, you’ll find a vast majority of media channels change the structure, format and even wording of your press release. Don’t be offended, this just helps them to avoid a Google punishment for having duplicate content on their site.
That’s why you want to keep it simple, to the point and interesting. If your story doesn’t meet these criteria, it won’t get published and your efforts will be a waste of time. Keep reading for five ways to make your press release interesting.
5 Ways to make your Press Release Interesting
The first rule of press release distribution is to write copy that people find interesting. That might seem obvious, but writing a press release is very different from writing a blog post. It’s not a difficult thing to do, but these tips will help you out if you’ve never written a press release before.
1. Keep the copy tight
As we said, a Journalist is likely to sift through hundreds of press releases and rewrite them for publication. Keeping the copy tight makes this process easier. Try not to use more words than you have to. A typical press release will tell you everything you need to know in the initial paragraph (think the five W’s). The following paragraphs provide more information, often including quotes from interesting sources.
2. Think about your audience
Are you distributing to the local press? You should highlight where you’re based and avoid technical jargon. Writing for industry-specific media? Be as technical as you like to demonstrate your authority in that sector. If you are hoping to get your press release published in as many places as possible then it may be worth writing several versions to appeal to various audiences.
3. Use the correct writing style
You would expect a press release to have a knowledgeable tone of voice. Think factual writing over the colloquial and engaging tone we are used to seeing in blogs and other forms of content. As your overarching aim should be keeping it concise, try to keep your sentences shorter than 25 words. The most important thing is making sure every sentence is telling the reader something imperative to the story. Make it factual and make it punchy.
4. Grab attention with your title
A cringe-worthy title can go a long way when it comes to distributing your press release. Journalists are inundated with press releases, stories and features that people want to see in the media. An attention-grabbing headline could be the difference between your email getting read and published, and getting sent straight to the junk folder. Click To Tweet Think about what part of the story will draw people in.
Do a bit of research to see what type of headlines the media channels you distribute to are creating. In some cases you’ll see puns and others you’ll see factual statements – knowing your audience will help you create a killer title.
5. Make it newsworthy
It’s sad that this has to be included in this list but you’d be surprised how many people are trying (and failing) to utilize a PR strategy because they are not interesting. Before you even think about writing a press release, you should have a newsworthy story. If you try to distribute a press release purely for backlink building and SEO, you will fail. The news has to happen, then you decide to write a press release on it.
Consider whether or not anyone will actually care about what you’re saying. If you’re launching a product or you’ve won an award then they probably will. If you’ve decorated your office, updated your website or hired a new sales assistant then you should probably leave that off your press release list.
Interesting & Newsworthy!
Once you’ve written your interesting and newsworthy press release, you need to work out how to distribute it. Distributing the copy is likely to take just as much, if not more time than it takes you to produce the writing. That being said, if you plan on implementing this strategy regularly then it will get quicker with experience. You’ll build a database of press contacts and form relationships with key contacts.
Trying to circulate your press release with little or no response can be quite soul-crushing, but you’ll get that rush of endorphins when you see your brand name in the media.
Here are three tried and tested methods that you can use to distribute your press release. Without any cost, by the way.
3 ways to distribute your Press Release Free of Charge
1. Hunt down the Journalists
The best way to get your press release published in external publications is to send it directly to the Journalists and Editors. You have to be strategic in your approach to this. You are aiming to get the copy published in as many places as possible without spending more time than necessary on the project.
To do this you have to make sure you are only contacting relevant people. These are people that have written about your subject or something relevant to your subject before. If your press release is about you winning an award, do a Google search to see if anyone was writing about the event or the business who won last year. You can often find the contact information for the Journalist after a quick search. Failing that, use the contact information provided on the platforms ‘contact us’ page and mention the journalist and the relevant story that has led you to contact them.
There’s always the paid-for option…
If this is too time-consuming for you, then the next best option is to pay for these databases. Obviously, this is not a free method of circulating your news. But it will save you time as you’ll have all of the appropriate people’s contact information on one easy-to-read spreadsheet.
2. Free PR Distribution Platforms
The distribution channels are used by media owners, Journalists and Editors. It works in the exact opposite way to the above. Essentially, you upload your press release to this platform and people can share it with their own audience if they wish to. Rather than you sending the press release out to Journalists, Journalists are coming straight to your content.
There are loads of these sites available, just search “free PR distribution” and wade through over 700,000 results. Some of them lure you in with a free trial or a limited number of uploads but, in all honesty, there is no need to pay for this service.
Pros and Cons
Free distribution platforms are a great tool to save time and reach Journalists that you might not have thought of. Because of this mass reach, you stand a good chance of achieving your PR goals and raising brand awareness. As long as you aren’t using free distribution platforms as a backlink building strategy…
It is easy to achieve the first PR strategy goal through free distribution platforms, however, unfortunately, these sites will strip out any links or give the remaining links “nofollow” tags so that you get no SEO benefit. Any media channels that do pick up your press release will have copied and pasted the information, meaning those backlinks still won’t help you.
3. Email Marketing
A PR distribution strategy that has grown in popularity is mass audience email marketing. The benefit of this is that it is free (usually) and you can send out your press release to thousands of people in very little time. All you need to do is create a database of Journalists, Editors and news desks and sign up for a free email marketing service.
By laying your press release out in an email, rather than sending it as an attachment, more of your recipients are likely to read it. The trick to organizing a successful marketing campaign is to choose the right list, come up with a clickable subject line and tell a story! Without following these guidelines you risk your entire PR strategy.
The only reason you might choose not to utilize email marketing is that your publication percentage is likely to be very low. You are aiming to get your story published in as many places as possible, but does sending 10,000 emails for 4 publications seem worth it? Targeting Journalists that have shown an interest in your subject is likely to improve your chances of getting published.
The Ultimate Guide to PR Distribution: A Summary
In this guide, you have learned exactly what a press release is and what your business can use it for. PR should be considered an important element in your marketing mix as it can generate sales, increase brand awareness and boost your SERP rankings.
You have also learned 5 ways to make your story interesting and relevant, to give you more chance of getting published. This includes techniques such as using the correct tone of voice and coming up with a killer headline.
Finally, you have learned 3 ways to distribute your press release that won’t cost you any money. The most effective method being to contact Journalists directly, but this takes more time than email marketing or uploading your copy to a free PR distribution platform. All in all, this guide should help you implement an effective in-house PR strategy without costing an arm and a leg.
Interested in taking your business to the next level? Reach out to us through the form below and let’s help transform your business into a sales machine!
- Ultimate Guide to PR Distribution - 19/03/2020