If you place value on the production of online PR and regularly set time aside to write a release and issue to social media, you may want to stop and think about how you can increase the hit rate to achieve even better results. Once in the mindset of producing news items and uploading to social media sites, it’s easy to get caught up in writing and distribution, without thinking to look at stats such as hit rates.
Although putting out a PR regularly is a useful link building tool with the added benefit of building brand profile, if you’re writing pieces simply because you think you have to in order to keep on top of search engine optimization tasks, you can fail to pay attention to one of the most important considerations – are your PRs actually being read? The quickest and easiest way to check is to look at the hit count in the control panel of your chosen PR distribution site (PR Log and Free-Press-Release for example both provide useful, real time data). A consistently low hit count means that your releases are not enticing the intended reader to actually read your news – suggesting more time and effort, different PR angles or a new format are needed.
If your PRs are regularly registering less than a few hundred hits, you will need to sit down and brainstorm ways to increase reader interest. Try these ideas as a starting point…
1. Does the format convey the right impression?
First impressions are just as important online as they are off and it could be that the appearance of your PR is putting readers off. Even if you are extremely time-poor, take the time to set up a professional looking template in Word which can then be used again and again. Write a standard about us section that can be repeated on each PR, include the date and place of issue at the top and a contact us section right at the bottom for further information. You may also want to include a tags field at the top or bottom of the PR in order to allow easy categorization. A company logo and address can also be included and then the file saved as your default template for future releases.
2. Have you correctly identified your reader?
If you’ve compiled a business or marketing plan recently, you should have identified your ideal customer – that is who your press releases are targeted at. If not, go back and produce that section of a marketing or business plan before writing any more press releases. You need to identify and then identify with your reader, using tone, languages and terminology that encourage them to engage. You can do your homework by looking at the releases of competitors and studying their terminology and pitch; are the PRs technical? Do they give details of prices? Are the headlines informative or sales-y? What sort of topics have they used? Decide if their approach is similar to the one you ought to be using and write your next PR accordingly.
3. Are you using visual aids?
Just because an online PR is a written medium doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate multimedia elements such as images or even videos. If your product is particularly image-driven (for example you are an art dealer, sell cars or home furnishings) uploading images alongside your release can really illustrate the main points of the PR. If you offer a service rather than a product, consider a video attachment instead, either showing the service in action or film a case study or client testimonial. This additional material all serves to underline the main points of the PR, add extra depth of interest and show in pictures what your words may not be conveying.
4. Are your cross-populating?
If you upload a PR to a service such as PR Log, PR-USA or Clickpress, are you also adding a link to the published release on Facebook? Or Twitter? If not, cross-pollination of your social media activities can really help to increase your hit count. It may be that your readers simply don’t look at Google News but avidly keep up to date with things they are interested in on Facebook or Twitter. If that is their preferred medium, it’s essential that you post a link to the PR so that they are provided with a pathway to access the piece.
5. Is your audience simply tired of you?
If you have embraced the online PR trend a little too enthusiastically, it may be that your readership is out there but the sheer volume of your releases is overwhelming. Even the most engaged of audiences have a limit on the amount of time they can spend reading PR so if you’re releasing a barrage of information each week they may have run out of time or worse, become desensitised to your news.
If you’re sending out more than two releases a week, ask yourself if the topics are truly newsworthy and deserving of their own release. As a benchmark, you could consider if the topic of your PR is one that you could realistically see being published in your local newspaper or covered on your local radio station. If the answer is no, your PRs are too frequent and you run the risk of drowning your audience under a barrage of non-news from your brand, leading them to turn off.
Use the above five tips to add a little zip to a moribund press release program, and you should see the number of hits increase accordingly.