All businesses need some self-promotion from time to time and getting published online is a great way to increase awareness with the media and wider stakeholders.
Although writing a release for an online site is very similar to writing it for print, there are subtle differences that make the process a specialism; you need to take some issues into consideration if you want to give your release the best chance of getting covered by the media.
When Is A Press Release Necessary?
The first thing you need to think about is when it is appropriate to write a release that will be of interest to a journalist.
A news release can be used if you are employing new staff, received investment for new premises or have had a bumper quarter for sales.
It won’t have the same appeal if you having a summer sale or launching a generic product. The media are inundated with stories, so although it is news to you, you have to think if it is news to them.
What Should Go In Your Release?
If you have a lot of information to cover, try to remember to structure your release to make it as simple as possible for a journalist to read and understand.
- Who: Who are the key people in the story, who else is involved, who does your news benefit?
- What: What is new with this announcement?
- Why: Why is this important? Is it the first, will it create jobs, help the local community etc? …
- Where: Where is this happening? Where are you located, or where is the location of the event?
- When: What is the timing of this news? Is it significant for any particular reason?
- How: How did this come about? Was it through a partnership, a brainwave in the night etc? …
Think About Your Audience
It is really important to target publications in your sector if your story is industry specific. If it has broad appeal then you can also target broader news media outlets.
Understanding who you are writing for will influence the tone of your writing, what you say and what angle you use.
Business journalists for example like facts, figures and background on the business; technology journalists like to know the science behind the idea and the nuts bolts and technical spec. Consumer journalists like to know how it fits in with current lifestyle trends, if any celebrities are wearing/eating/buying it and how it can help us in our everyday lives.
How Long Should It Be?
Unlike print that is so restricted by word count, online articles don’t face the same problem.
This doesn’t mean you have free licence to ramble on — keep it factual, and cover all the main points as stated above.
Also make sure you include all necessary links to your website, partner websites and contact information in case they need to follow up with you.
Optimising Your Release
Be sure to optimise your release as this will rank higher in search engines.
The first step should be to highlight the keywords that are relevant to your industry sector. Choose your keywords efficiently before you begin placing them in keyword-rich content. Remember that keyword density should be no more than 5%-7%. Placing keywords in header tags is also important.
Most important is H1, followed by H2 then H3. Try to add key words in your release and include text links on your keywords.
Once you have written and optimised your release for search engines, the next step is to put it on your own site and add a link to it on an already-indexed page to help search engines find it.
Getting Your Release Noticed
If you have followed all the steps and feel confident that your release is newsworthy, then get it out to the media.
Most news outlets have an online version so send it to the correct journalist whom you have identified as well as the web editor for the publication.
There are a few good online press release services who regularly publish good content, such as Business Wire, PR Newswire and PRWeb.
Social media is also a great way for highlighting your news, but it’s not good practice to @ tag a long list of news outlets — or even worse, tag them all in the same post.
Pick the key ones, use them and, if you can, provide different content or a different picture so that they feel they are getting something unique.
To make it simple, keep your release short, snappy and factual. Place all the most interesting stuff at the top of the release.
Don’t ring a journalist to see ‘if they got it’. They are inundated with stories, but if yours is interesting they will get in touch.
If in doubt, you can always use a professional who has the contacts to make sure you get in touch with the right person and get your good news shared with the world.
Note: The original version of this article was published in August, 2015.