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Tips for writing an effective press release

Written and Submitted by Gabriel Chapman, Business Wire

Almost every PR and marketing professional has crafted a press release at some point. While the main goal of generating attention and coverage for your desired audience has not changed, methods for optimizing the release for the best chance of coverage are always updating. Here are some quick tips to remember when crafting and distributing your next release:

Write a clear, concise headline that is no more than 70 characters long

Writing a compelling press release headline for a human, not a search engine is crucial. The headline is often the deciding factor in whether the reader will click on your release or not. The goal is to entice the reader to click on the headline, read the release, and share your content across their social channels. Avoid concentrating on SEO keywords and focus on concise writing that reinforces the theme and relevance to your story.

Place descriptive information in the first paragraph

The first paragraph of the press release is the most important. Think of this space as your opportunity to state a bold point that captures the reader’s attention. Most recipients only see the headline and first sentence of your press release so make it count. The press release that anticipates questions that reporters and readers will be the most effective.

Focus on link quality over link quantity

The main focus of links within a press release is to enhance the user experience with the ultimate goal of getting shared. With the recent changes, Google does not positively weigh links within your press release in its search engine anymore. What they, and other search engines do, is react positively when links are shared or included in third-party references to your content. The search engines deem your release successful and boost its ranking when it generates news coverage, blog posts and social media sharing. Make sure you include quality links that have a call-to-action that makes the reader want to share your content (links to your website, blog, and other social media outlets). Remember, links in a press release will not help SEO unless people find them useful.

Always Include Multimedia

For your press release to rank well in search results, as well as engage users, it is essential to include multimedia. The search engines weigh multimedia differently than text based releases, and with the proliferation of smart phones and tablet devices, they’re making this an SEO necessity in 2015. Including compelling imagery in your press release improves the likelihood of achieving a positive response and pickup by journalists, analysts and consumers.

Use Social Media strategically to your audience

Nearly every organization uses at least one form of social media in 2015 and this is no longer optional for including in an effective press release. Search engines are now weighing social engagement in their search algorithms. The best strategy is to listen where your target audience is having a conversation online and build a strong presence on that particular social media platform (Twitter, FB, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc). Remember, this strategy takes time, but it is an essential way to communicate with an audience that’s interested in your news.

*BONUS Tip- A great way to build better relationships with key reporters and bloggers is to share their coverage on your social media outlets to increase traffic to your news.

Finally, think of your press release as a term paper being evaluated by the search engines. The more of these tips you include, the better your release with perform in the search rankings. Good writing is still the key to any effective release. Content sharing is huge, and if you can produce content that answers people’s questions, then you’re on the right track.

 

 

Getting your calendar together for the Spring? Here’s what we have planned…

We began the New Year with the Media Training Presentation on January 30 featuring Nick Peters from CommCore Consulting Group who shared why the right media training is so important. Click here for a recap.

Now we’re heading into spring with more programs created especially for you. Join us for one or join us for all. Just be sure to join us!

Wednesday, Mar 20 2013Best Pitches – How to Create Eye-catching Pitches for Media
Don’t have time for another out-of-office meeting? Presenting our first “20 tips on the 20th” virtual meeting. This month’s discussion will be led by David Harrison of Harrison Communications (Thanks, David!) and will include tips on how to create eye-catching media pitches. So grab your lunch, find a quiet corner, dial-in, and get ready to hone your media pitching skills. Click here to register!

Thursday, Apr 25 2013Social Slam: Building Your Social Media Toolbox
Gain a better understating of social media in 2013!  Let the experts guide you through the ins and outs of the top social networking services.  Panelists will share how they strategically use social media and create effective content, as well as new trends and best practices for a successful online presence. Click here for more information on our panelist to date and to register!

A Special Thank You to our Event Sponsors…

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Thursday, May 16 2013Happy Hour & Networking
Our spring wouldn’t be complete without at least one networking event and on May 16, we’re gathering at the Waterfront Hotel in Fells Point. Last time, we highlighted new pros. This time, we’re highlighting our colleagues in the Public Affairs and Government section. So join us and connect with some of the area’s top communications professionals. Whether you’re a long-time pro or a newbie to PR, our networking events are always the best. Click here to register!

 

And coming in…

June 2013 – The Chesapeake Conference, Columbia MD.

December 2013 – The Best In Maryland Awards. PssstHere’s the best news: this year’s awards will be a combination of old and new. So keep your eye out for the traditional Call for Entries and newly-designed Call for Nominations coming in early summer.

More information on both events coming soon!

 

Interested in sponsoring an event? It’s a great way to reach PR and communications professionals throughout Maryland and support PRSA-MD at the same time. For more information, or to suggest a sponsorship, call the Mariner Management Office at 301-725-2508 or shoot us an email at info@dev.growsocially.biz.

Test Your Story

With the Chessie Conference only a few days away, attendees hopefully are fine-tuning their story ideas in preparation for the Speed Pitching Session, which is scheduled from 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. Don’t miss this opportunity to pitch your story idea face-to-face with reporters, editors and producers.

This year, the journalists participating in our Speed Pitching session are:

Julie Scharper, Baltimore Sun, Community Coordinator, Maryland News

Rob Terry, Baltimore Business Journal, associate editor/Web editor

Liz Farmer, The Daily Record, reporter

Dave McHugh, WMAR, producer of “Good Morning Maryland”

For great tips on successful story pitching, see the blog entry “How to Pitch Your Story,” dated 9/17.

How to Pitch Your Story

A successful pitch is the key to any public relations effort. After all, your goal is to receive free publicity for your client, product, or company. To do so, you need to be a pitch master.

Below are some tips on how to provide a successful pitch. However, if you want to practice your pitching skills, be sure to attend the Chesapeake Conference. This year, the Chesapeake Conference will feature a Speed Pitching session.

What is that, you ask? Well, it is an awesome opportunity for Conference attendees to ‘test out’ their best pitches on real, live journalists and receive feedback (and maybe even a story!).  Each pitcher is given 10 minutes with the journalist of their choice; this gives you time to present your pitch, and receive feedback.

Here are some pitching tips to help ensure your pitch is a success:

Frankly, be prepared. Have your story set, your ‘elevator speech’, if you will. Since you won’t have much time, know the main selling points, and have them up front and center as part of your pitch. Though it may not be needed, be sure to have back-up facts, or any additional material, handy (especially facts and figures).

Have a press release ready. Don’t rely on a phone conversation alone – not only may you not be able to get one, but you want your targeted journalist to have all the information possible. Plus, the release is a handy way for them to find your contact info, or more info about your client, product, or company than you were able to get out ‘in person’.

Research the reporter and his/her beat. Be sure to look through recent articles/stories by that journalist, to ensure you’re not giving ‘old news’. If it does sound a bit like a repeat, is there any way you  can provide a new angle? Plus, you don’t want to pitch a travel client’s success story to a courtroom journalist – it’s not a good fit.

Follow-up. Be patient, be considerate, yet be a bit persistent. Follow-up with a voicemail or e-mail, possibly with a resent of your press release.

To put these tips into action, attend the 2009 PRSA-MD Chesapeake Conference and take part in the Speed Pitching session. What other time do you receive a reporter’s undivided attention, along with their candor on how to make your pitch better so it is deemed more newsworthy? I haven’t come across such a time – if you have, please let me know!

This year, the journalists participating in our Speed Pitching session are:

  • Rob Terry, The Baltmore Business Journal
  • Liz Farmer, The Daily Record
  • Dave McHugh, WMAR, producer of “Good Morning Maryland”

We are adding new pitchees daily, so check back often!

 

For more info on how to successfully pitch your story, check out these additional resources:
How to Pitch Stories for Media Placement 
How to Pitch Stories Like a Journalist
How to Pitch a Story to the Media

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors