The New PR: Five Steps to a Press Release that Really Sells

29 Jun 2009


I recently attended a webinar featuring David Meerman Scott, author of the WebInkNow blog and World Wide Rave, the latest book on creating effective social media content that works.

During the webinar, an interesting question popped up in the Q&A section: What’s the purpose of a press release – and how can it be used effectively?

Scott suggested taking a new approach: instead of writing press releases that target media, why not target your buyers, the people that really matter to your bottom line? Journalists don’t sit around, waiting for your press release to float across their desks before they decide what they want to write about. If they want to write about you, they’ll search you out.

Reaching out to journalists is important, but it’s not as important as reaching your clients. So here’s where we get into the new PR: instead of using your press release to grab the attention of journalists – who may or may not care about you – why not use your press release to sell? I’ve put together five steps here to target your press releases to potential clients and journalists alike:

1. Put it in the correct form. There’s a right way and a wrong way to write press releases. All of them need a title, a date, a city, and valid contact information (that’s an email address and a phone number).

2. Get rid of the nonsense. Remember, you’re writing for potential buyers, not necessarily “the media.” Use language that your target audience would use to describe your business or product. For example, do you know a whole lot of people who would describe Coca Cola as a “purveyor of artificially sweetened beverages”? Probably not — Coca Cola is a soft drink company. Forget fancy words like “integral solutions.” Speak the language your buyers speak. Once you think you’ve got that down, check out David Meerman Scott’s top 25 gobbledygook press release phrases. If you have any in your press release, delete them – pronto.

3. Optimize your press release. This goes hand-in-hand with No. 2. Make sure your press release is keyword rich, with phrases that can be easily searched on Google (you’ll want keyword-rich content for step No. 5 – read on). To get the best optimization on your press release, try to include at least two or three relevant links to different websites, either in the body or at the bottom of your press release. For example, if you write a press release about an award your company just won, include links to the website of the institution that gave you the award. These links are important to search engines, placing your press release higher in rankings. But only include links to quality, authoritative sites; linking to spammy sites will hurt your search engine ranking.

4. Put your press release to the test. Check out this awesome tool, courtesy of David Meerman Scott: The Gobbledygook Grader. All you need to do is cut and paste your press release, and the Gobbledygook Grader will automatically put your press release to the test, giving it a grade between 1 and 100. It automatically checks for any nonsense, filler phrases you may have missed, as well as making sure your press release is fully optimized.

5. Get it out on the web. Use a trusted press release distribution site, like PRWeb. This is important, because once your press release is on a distribution site, it’s guaranteed to hit Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. That means anyone who types in a keyword – a potential buyer or client – can access your press release. And the information there might just catch their attention, and then they’ll pass is on to a friend … and eventually you could have a viral press release, or a phone ringing off the hook with new clients.

And you know what? Journalists use search engines too – so using a distribution site is sure to get you the largest cross section of attention for your press release.

Questions? I’m always here to help!

The Writers For Hire, Inc. 
At The Writers For Hire, you are hiring not just one copywriter, but a streamlined team of experienced writing professionals. We've perfected our unique cooperative writing model, so you'll have the advantage of receiving a fine-tuned final draft that has been reviewed by several editors.

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