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October 21st, 2012 at 6:54 am

4 Simple Ways to Get More Mileage Out of Your Press Release

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Did you know that just 14% of releases posted on major wire services have been optimized for search? Or that press releases including an image or a video get shared three times more than text-only releases -– and viewers spend up to 30 seconds more time with this content -– but nearly half of marketers do not routinely add images to their press releases?

Many marketers are missing out on opportunities to get their news more widely viewed and shared. So before you issue your next press release, consider these four simple tactics to amplify the reach of your news.

1. Write Your Release With Search in Mind

It’s no longer enough to write press release copy that tells a clear and compelling story; you must now also write your release in a way that helps searchers find you online. Reporters use search engines to find sources and story ideas, and comScore reports that in February 2012, U.S. searchers conducted 371 million news-related searches on search engines.

Start by making a list of the keywords and phrases that are most relevant to your company, and then cross-check these terms using Google’s keyword tool to assess monthly search volume and competition for your core keywords, and to see suggestions for other related keywords.

Once you have your list of keywords, use them in the headline and subhead of your release, as well as throughout the body of the announcement -– just make sure that the release still sounds natural and makes sense. Avoid over-repetition by using secondary and tertiary keywords, too.

When including hyperlinks in your release, Mark Scott, Global Public Relations Manager for NCR, also recommends you link to what your product does or your keywords, not your product name.

“I’ve seen both big and small businesses only link to their product name, which limits the SEO value of your release,” says Scott. “Don’t put a link to just the product name because if it’s new, there’s not a single person who is going to Google that name. Link to a keyword phrase like ‘inventory management software’ instead, because that’s what people are searching for.”

2. Include Search-Optimized Images With Your Release

Including images along with your release can make a big difference in coverage. PRESSfeed’s data shows that 80% of journalists and bloggers are more likely to cover news that includes an image.

What kinds of images work? Courtney Walsh of Media Darling PR encourages clients to use images that really illustrate that news they’re putting out.

“For example, if it’s a new product, don’t just include a product shot, show customers using it,” says Walsh.  “Also remember that images need to be high-resolution to be useful for most press.”

Images can also work double duty in your search strategy if you optimize the images for search by naming and tagging them with keywords.

Becca Bernstein, social media marketing manager at Picaboo, also suggests including the release headline or the related blog post title in the name and tags, so people can find your content through an image search. For example, this approach helped her company get a recent “How to Photograph Fireworks” blog post to the top of Google’s Image Search.

“When people search for photos of fireworks, my tips and tricks for taking photos of fireworks is now prevalent,” says Bernstein.

Bernstein also recommends adding hashtags and the URL back to the blog post or news release in the Photo Title and Alternate Photo Title.

“When I do this, it allows any image pinned to Pinterest to include a searchable hashtag and a link back to my blog. This drives more clicks and ultimately, a higher ranking on Google,” adds Bernstein.

3. Boost Press Release Engagement With Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth? Data from PR Newswire and Crowd Factory shows that while adding a photo to a press release increases engagement by 14%, adding a video along with a photo actually doubles the engagement rate.

“Based on my experience, video dramatically increases impressions, interactions and syndication of news releases,” says Jim Kemp, communications manager at software company ColumbiaSoft. “We frequently include video with our news releases whenever possible, and have seen headline impressions regularly increase by 130% over releases without videos.”

When creating your video, James Crawford of Crawford PR suggests that you stick to the news -– no self-serving advertorials –- and avoid talking heads, to hold viewers’ interest. He also recommends using graphics or charts in the video to illustrate your point, and keeping the video to under two minutes.

While you can use a service like YouTube or Vimeo to host the video, Kemp strongly recommends also distributing your video over the wire with your press release to boost syndication and SEO.

“Simply placing a link to a video is not good enough. Having the video embedded in the distribution is a must,” says Kemp.

Once your video is uploaded, make sure to tag it with your keywords, and even consider including a transcript of the video so that search engines can index the content.

4. Use Social Media to Amplify Your News


The more backlinks that point to your content, the more value search engines will assign to it … so you should consider executing a mini social media “blitz” right after your news hits the wire, says Tom Corson-Knowles, author of How To Make Money With Twitter.

“I’ve developed a system over the years that has been incredibly useful in boosting SEO results of press releases and other announcements for my small business clients,” says Corson-Knowles. “Basically, it involves creating a coordinated social media promotions campaign that launches within 60 minutes of the press release or news announcement.”

Corson-Knowles recommends this process:

  • Post the news on your web site
  • Tweet the news with a link to the announcement on your web site (and have employees tweet it too)
  • Post your news with a link to the announcement on Facebook (and have employees post it too)
  • Pin any relevant news-related images or videos to Pinterest (with links back to your news page)
  • Create and post a video on YouTube talking about the announcement and linking back to the announcement on your website
  • Embed the YouTube video into a blog post and publish the blog post linking back to the announcement page
  • Post the announcement page on other social networks such as Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon

“In my experience, the combined effect of all of this promotion as soon as the announcement is made is generally a 4x to 5x increase in traffic thanks to the improved search engine rankings of the news,” says Corson-Knowles.

Finally, write tweetable press release headlines. Data shows press releases that are shared via social media bring an average of six people back to the news distribution site to view the release.  

When writing your headline, think about whether it’s short enough to fit into a tweet, including a Twitter handle and link. Next, be sure the company or product name is in the beginning so it won’t get cut off. Double check for keywords so the tweet is searchable, and make the headline punchy enough to generate retweets.

What are some other strategies you’ve employed to get your press releases to spread?

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum

- How to Use Hashtags to Promote Your Small Business
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Yelp
- How to Master Social Media Like a Famous Comedian

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