Write the Perfect Online PR

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Writing an online press release (PR) is a quick way to drive traffic to your website, build links and raise awareness. A good online PR will also help you to make more sales by raising awareness and desire amongst the target demographic.

Most SEO consultants agree that writing and issuing online PRs at regular intervals is a beneficial addition to your online strategy. Depending on the service agreement you have with your SEO provider, it may be that creating content such as optimized news releases will incur an additional charge. If that’s the case or if you’re limited to the number of releases you can put out per month/year, it’s worth developing your own PR writing skills and taking control of your online releases.

Even trained journalists and marketers can struggle to write a really interesting online PR, as their format and style will differ greatly from an offline release. For this reason, you should resist the temptation to simply put any offline PR materials you have commissioned onto your website and expect them to help you increase online rankings. Offline PRs will very often fail to resonate with an online audience because titles, keyword consideration, and sentence length mean very different things online.

Avoid these pitfalls and create newsworthy online press releases each time by following these steps:

1. Decide On Your Topic

The obvious first step when writing an online PR is to decide on your topic. This will be relatively straightforward if something newsworthy has recently taken place within the company. Events such as being nominated for or winning an award, landing a large new order, opening in a new location, or taking on more staff lend themselves well to an online PR. But you can also fashion a PR out of less-obvious news stories such as the introduction of green initiatives in your office, trade show attendance, the launch of a competition, charitable donations, the setting of new customer service targets, or conducting advanced staff training.

When you’ve decided on your topic, write it down in no more than one sentence. This one sentence is the reason you’re writing the release, so keep it in a prominent position and refer back to it. It’s amazing how many online PRs start off well but then veer totally off track, so refer back to your one sentence blurb throughout the creation process to ensure you’re not wandering off topic.

2. Arrange Your Keywords

When you’re writing an online release, basic SEO principles should be applied to keyword selection and placement. Draw up a short list of words and phrases from your SEO keyword list that you think should be included in the release. Working from this list will give the content an optimized framework and remind you to keep keyword use and organic optimization goals in mind throughout the creative process.

When deciding on keywords, don’t expect to fit every keyword you’re optimizing for into the PR. Good online releases are focused on a particular topic, meaning you’ll only need to use keywords related to that central theme. Trying to shoehorn other phrases in because you want to rank on page one of the SERPs for them will undermine the credibility of the whole PR.

3. Formatting

You should always include the date and your contact details at the top of the release. This makes the job of the recipient easier when they come across your PR in their inbox or on screen – they can see if the news is still timely and who to contact for more information. You could also include a company logo in the top-right-hand corner of the release to give it a firmer brand identity.

If you’re happy that the release go out immediately, include the phrase ‘For immediate release’ either above or below the date. If the story is embargoed until after a certain date, then use ‘For delayed release’ followed by the date it can be used. If you send a PR out with this embargo, don’t be surprised if some sites or editors use the piece before your intended date in order to get a jump on the competition. If the date of release is really important, hold back on sending out the PR until you’re happy that it be published.

Keep fonts standard and no larger than 12 points. Use of non-standard fonts will limit the number of people able to access the PR (a special font may not show up correctly on the screen of a reader without that typeface pre-installed).

4. Write The Headline

The headline should be in bold and centered below the contact details, release information, and date. Those experienced in offline PR will be familiar with clever, witty, and funny headlines that play on words or misspellings. These should be avoided with online PR – the headline should be concise, descriptive, and to the point. Keeping the headline short will also curry favor with busy journalists who get hundreds of thousands of PRs sent to them each week.

As one of the reasons behind writing an online PR is to help you with your SEO work, remember core on-page principles such as keyword placement. If you can use one of the keywords from your keyword list do so, particularly if you plan to publish the release on your own website.

5. The Intro Paragraph

All key facts should be included within the first paragraph of the release. Again, this first section should be kept short and sweet. No more than 5-6 lines of text usually works best. Within this introduction section, try to work in the classic journalism principles of who, where, what, and why. Answering these basic questions early on gives the reader all pertinent information even if they don’t have time to read the full release. It also gives the journalist reading the PR the basic facts needed to decide if the story is worthy of publication consideration.

Keywords should be used in this paragraph if they can be woven into the natural flow of the text. The product or brand name should be used at least once and linked back to the relevant page on your website.

6. The Body

This section of the online PR gives space to elaborate on the basic facts. To add weight to the release and make it more usable, include at least one quote from a relevant source. Depending on the topic of the PR, this will usually be the CEO or departmental head plus a comment from the client, trade body, or other entity mentioned in the release.

A common mistake made by PR rookies is to simply use the quote section of the release to push the company line. This is a sure-fire way to turn off the reader. Instead, use the space to add more detail or a unique perspective to the news announcement.

Any supporting material, such as statistics and market research, should also be included in the body section.

7. The Closing Paragraph

At the end of the release, include general company information such as number of retail outlets, location, and year founded. This can be taken directly from the ‘About Us’ section of your website, but should be kept as brief as possible.

8. Editor’s Notes

If you have high-res images available or are happy to schedule product reviews or send samples to interested parties or have an external PR consultant to deal with press requests, include a brief section attesting to those facts right at the end of the PR.

9. Ends

At the bottom of the page, formally terminate the release with [Ends] or –Ends-.

Follow these tips and your online PR will work to your best advantage for both practical and SEO purposes.

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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