How to Write a Press Release That Generates Traffic
Press releases are a resource inherited from traditional PR. In digital marketing, its usefulness has been redefined. Press releases have proven to be a valuable tool for driving traffic to your site. However, it is not enough to distribute your content to as many media as possible. This could even be counterproductive.
Content project management specialists often use press releases to create interest and generate recognized third-party publications. A press release that attracts the attention of editors is likely to be amplified. In an ideal scenario, journalists will dig deeper and identify you as an authoritative source. In this article, we explain how to write an effective press release, capable of generating traffic to your website.
In this post, we'll cover:
What is a press release
It is important to know what a press release is and what it intends to accomplish. This will help guide the development of the content management and align it with your objectives. Simply put, a press release is an official statement from an organization on a topic which intends to elaborate on a fact or an opinion from the company’s point of view.
It is concise and direct content; the length is short. The information should be summarized in one or, at most, 2 pages. This is equivalent to a text of approximately 400 to 600 words. The statement should not go into depth but to draw attention to an issue and pique the audience’s interest. However, choose should address the 5 W + 1 H questions:
In writing a press release, you should also be careful about the language you use. A press release should not contain calls to action or promotional messages. It is a tool for reaching your audience through third parties. Therefore, its aim is to meet the expectations of both the initial recipient (the publisher) and your target audience.
Writing an effective press release
At first glance, meeting the above requirements may seem impossible. However, your press release will have a better chance of catching an editor’s attention if you follow these tips. These are recommendations that facilitate understanding and increase the attractiveness of the medium:
Write a catchy title
The title of a press release is probably the hardest part. It must be newsworthy, otherwise it will be put aside and forgotten. Consider that every day, media newsrooms are bombarded with press releases. Editors don’t have much time to carefully read and filter all the material they receive. If, at first glance, a press release is not interesting or looks like promotional communication, it will probably be overlooked.
The first step here is the title as it is what an editor sees first. Try to add some excitement and appeal. Give the title a creative twist without losing sight of the essential information. Above all, keep it short. It should be no longer than one line. Use action verbs and language that is understandable and precise.
Identify the purpose of the press release
Before you start writing a press release, you should clearly establish your purpose and who you are targeting. Remember, the journalist is not your final audience. Think about the readers and the usefulness or value they can get from your information.
Press releases often address:
- Product launches or updates
- What’s new in the corporate structure?
Such as mergers, partnerships or new acquisitions
- Promotion or invitation to an event
- Announcement of certifications or recognitions obtained
- Response to a public reprimand
- Position of the company in the event of a conflict
The newsworthy item can also arise from a situation outside the organization. It’s called “news hijacking.” It consists of positioning yourself on the side of a fact or event, which tangentially can be related to your company. Rising fuel prices, for example, can call for a press release about electric cars.
That’s why content creation services keep a close eye on current news. Professionals identify content opportunities in local, national or global events, particularly if it relates to industry information or a particular niche.
Include statistics that matter to readers
A press release usually attracts more interest when it is supported by objective and reliable data. In this sense, statistics are a valuable resource as they are both authoritative and topical.
Generally, news that provides quantifiable facts tends to be considered more relevant. These may be, for example, forward-looking estimates, background or contextual information. It helps to refer to the results of studies, censuses or research. In addition, this will allow you to link to the source of that information and build powerful backlinks for SEO.
Quotes in a press release personalize the message and bring the story to life. It suggests that the information is the product of an interview and is perceived as more authentic.
At the same time, they also serve to identify the spokespersons of the organization. It is important to choose the phrase to highlight and the individual carefully. The level of authority and experience of the spokesperson contributes to the relevance of the statement.
The quotes need to be informative and concise segments of the message. Limit them to two or three powerful or especially meaningful sentences which can direct focus to essential aspects of the story.
Include images and multimedia content
Like statistics, images and videos increase the appeal of a press release. This is nothing new. Traditional press kits customarily included photographs to illustrate the news and provide information. Thanks to digital formats, resources are now much more varied. You can add other multimedia elements, which complement your message and boost awareness of your business.
In any case, the materials chosen should contribute content, provide supporting data or contextualize information. This will increase the appeal of the story, as it enhances the purpose and key message.
Check for errors
Do not saddle editors with the review and corrections of your press release. Media professionals and press release distribution services value your time. They are under a lot of pressure, as they have to work quickly to bring relevant content to the audience. Consequently, they cannot spend time correcting a poorly written press release. In fact, they won’t even take the time to read it.
Therefore, you should pay close attention to the use of language. Respecting grammar and spelling rules is essential. Likewise, the tone and style of the communiqué should be in line with the characteristics of the medium for which it is intended. Note at the tone of your headlines and adapt your content, without sacrificing your brand voice.
It is not necessary to make different versions of the press release for each media outlet, but it is necessary to appropriately address the source. A release that is distributed on financial sites, for example, should have a different content and writing style than one for entertainment sites.
Structure of a press release
Your press release should be in a format that is easily recognizable to editors. You should try to respond to their potential questions, identifying yourself and establishing the object of the communication in the first paragraphs. Remember that the journalist will quickly scan the document, looking for data of interest. If a significant amount of time is needed to understand the usefulness of the content, the press release is likely to be discarded.
Although content distributors may require a particular structure, releases generally follow this structure:
Write the release on company letterhead or place the organization’s logo in a visible place, such as the top center of the page. Then write the heading, which is the title of the release and summarizes its purpose in a few words.
Unlike blog posts, press releases have an expiration date. They respond to a current news event and, as such, are of interest only during a specific time frame. This first line of content should also specify the geographic location of the sender. It’s a fairly common practice, which is consistent with the Associated Press (AP) style guide.
The body of the press release should contain the information. It is recommended to use the inverted pyramid structure. That is, start with a two or three sentence lead that summarizes the core of the document and answers the essential questions.
The following paragraphs may provide more details on the subject. For example, if it is a launch, you can provide basic data on product features. Avoid the temptation to write a promotional piece or a long technical treatise. Focus on key features and their benefits to the target audience.
Each paragraph should be between 2 to 4 sentences long, so it must be concise. Statistics, multimedia content or hyperlinks can be used here to complement the information.
Add a short text introducing the organization. Write a two- or three-line paragraph explaining who you are and what your company does. You can also highlight other information you consider relevant, such as the company’s years of experience or track record. It can be similar to what you would post in the “About Us” section of your website.
The editor will need to know how to contact you for further information. Be sure to provide:
- Name of the organization
- Mailing address
- Name of contact person(s)
- Email address
- Telephone numbers
- Web address and social networks (optional)
To avoid losing some of the content, it is advisable to indicate the end of the communiqué. In this sense, the number sign (###) is usually written three times and centered in the bottom margin of the page. If the document is longer than one page, type “Continue” or “Continued” to let the editor know that there is more information.
Who to send a press release to
The distribution of your press release is a key factor in achieving your objectives. You should carefully choose to whom you send the information. Mass distribution, without a clear strategy, could turn your content into spam. Select the media according to your objectives and the audience and interest areas you intend to attract. Think for the long term, as indiscriminate distribution can affect your company’s credibility.
Alternatively, you could also use a content distribution service. This has great benefit, especially if your industry market is very competitive.
Please note that this decision will influence the format and characteristics of the release. Press releases are usually published by:
- Print media: newspapers and magazines
- Audiovisual media: radio and TV stations
- Websites and news portals
- Bloggers and influencers
- News distribution services
Press releases as SEO strategy
By definition, press releases are branding tools, helping to generate brand recognition and build authority. Its usefulness for obtaining backlinks has been questioned considerably. In reality, this is due to a misapplication of the strategy.
Backlinks from news sources are considered high quality and are very relevant. However, when a company publishes its own communications through fraudulent distribution platforms, it becomes a penalized action. This is not to say that press releases don’t contribute to SEO. On the contrary, they can and do so very effectively.
The key is how the release is constructed and what its purpose is. A valuable document provides useful content to editors. Consequently, it could pave the way to news publications related to your business and the information provided. It would not be surprising if the journalist alluded to your corporate website as a source. This is a natural acquisition, which boosts the visibility and ranking of your site in search engines.
Although a press release can contribute directly to SEO, its greatest value comes indirectly. The URL of your release could rank in search results. Nevertheless, the greatest potential of a press kit is undoubtedly its ability to generate traffic.
The SEO of the press release
SEO optimization of a press release may seem inconsequential. Since you don’t rely on search engines for publishers to find your content, it seems like a reasonable argument. The strength of the headline and the relevance of the information should be your primary concern.
However, there are some exceptions based on the distribution method. For example, if you plan to use a distribution service, you will need to use keywords and other SEO elements. It is also advisable to optimize this if you want to publish it on your own website. Otherwise, it will probably go unnoticed.
Gaining social traction with a press release
To maximize the effectiveness of your press release, you should be sure to syndicate your content. You shouldn’t simply wait for a media outlet to pick up the story and let the publication end there. Use your own channels effectively to make your press release visible.
Once again, you should pay attention to the best way to do promote it. Repeating the statement on all your networks will not improve your performance. Instead, be sure to push content with separate strategies that are relevant to each platform.
Take advantage of your press release to create tailored content for your networks. Write a unique description for each social network. Avoid the temptation to redirect traffic to your website on your own. Let third parties in authority do that. This will add relevance and authenticity to their citations.