Somewhere along the way, press releases got a bad rap when it comes to marketing. The truth is press releases are still a solid form of marketing that is sorely underused by small business owners. Learn why press releases are still a particularly good marketing strategy, how to use them, and how to get the most out of your PR efforts.

Why press releases got a bad reputation

bad reputationPress releases have always been a great way to get the news out about your company. Unfortunately, like many marketing tactics, some marketers began to abuse the tactic. Why? Many marketers found that getting backlinks from some of the top PR sites around was good for SEO. As a result, some less reputable marketers began cranking out non-newsworthy press releases just for the sake of the link with no disregard to the news (or lack of it). As a result, many press release sites started making their links no-follow links to try and discourage the practice. However, just because press releases aren’t the most valuable resource for link building doesn’t mean they don’t have value. Once marketers found out these links were likely of little value, they threw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, and shied away from doing press releases.

What are press releases good for?

Press releases are still one of the more powerful ways to build brand recognition, get news out quickly regarding a new product or service, or even counteract negative press from getting out of control. Here are some solid examples of when it’s a good idea to use a press release as suggested by LegalZoom:

  • Announcing a new product or service.
  • Improving brand image.
  • Images help drive interest.
  • Instant worldwide distribution.
  • Expanding public knowledge.

If your small business has news about any of the above or other situations, such as an upcoming event, press releases are a solid way to get the word out.

How press releases differ from social media

comparisonSome would argue that social media releases have effectively taken the place of traditional press releases to get company news out. In reality, there’s a difference between what social media can do and what a press release can do. To understand that, you must know what the differences are.  Social media releases are billed as a release for your customers rather than the media. Basically, it’s a call to give your news information right to your customer rather than relay that information through the media. Few people will share a PRWeb release, but you’ll see much more sharing on an article that’s written like a story, complete with graphics and other multimedia. Because of the new audience, it affects the style of the release. Press releases are written to give journalists facts and information so that they can quickly write their own story in any way they want using the facts we provide. Regular releases quickly convey facts and can often seem dry, but they need to be so that a journalist can take whatever angle they choose. The fact is that for most businesses, public relations and social media marketing provide a solid foundation and baseline for brand awareness and general marketing campaigns.

Press releases and SEO

SEOCircling back around to the value of press releases, the change in link value has not completely wiped out the SEO value of press releases. Press releases boost SEO indirectly. They boost traffic to your site. If well-written, they encourage a longer time on site. If they’re engaging, they’ll even be shared by others who might organically link to your site, and that does help SEO. Should you write press releases for the sake of SEO? No. Will you get SEO benefits from your press release? Possibly, if it’s actually newsworthy and well-written.

How to write an effective press release

First and more importantly, start with something that is newsworthy. We provided a very brief list of topics that a press release may be about. The bottom line is, write a release if it can answer the question, “So what?” with your audience or the press. Events, hiring, acquisitions, new products, new services all answer that question. Then make sure you start with an enticing headline so people will actually read it. For content, avoid the fluff and provide the facts. Remember, unlike social media, your press release should be short and read like a newspaper article. Why? Journalists will want to copy and paste directly from it when writing their story. Make it easy for them and leave the flowery verbiage to your social posts. Here are a few tips from Search Engine Journal on writing a press release:

  • Write in the third person.
  • Keep it brief (400-500 words is a great rule of thumb).
  • Add screenshots and other interesting media.
  • Get straight to the point (kill the fluff).
  • Speak straight to readers (cut the jargon).

Need an example of a good press release format? Check out the press release template by HubSpot. Once you’ve crafted a solid press release, make sure you’re getting in front of the journalists that will care about your news. Start by exploring a few different press release websites such as:

  • Online PR News
  • PR Free
  • PR Log
  • Press Release Point
  • Free Press Release
  • Newswire Today

For sites that provide an option to choose publications, take the time to really target the right publications that make sense for your company’s news. Once you’ve submitted your press release, go ahead, and share it on social channels and email marketing as well. Leverage several channels to get the news out.

Press releases are still a powerful marketing tool for brand recognition, SEO, and much more. Don’t overlook this marketing tactic. Instead, at it to your small business marketing strategy and leverage it whenever you have something newsworthy to share.

Patty Hughes
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