How to create a great online Press Release

Press ReleasePress ReleaseMedia is becoming increasingly fragmented, with customers’ attention being pulled in many directions at once. You need to be able to make sure that it’s your press release, and your product or service, that grabs their interest. In my opinion Marc Harty is the master when it comes to planning and executing a great online press release. Check out his website 30minutepr.com. I’ve followed Mr. Harty for a long time and continue to gain respect for his approach and the results they deliver.

Online PR has many advantages over traditional formats. Not only do you have access to so many more people, but you communicate with them directly. In the past the media acted as an intermediary between you and your customers, deciding what they would communicate, but with online methods it’s just you and the customer.

In order to exploit this opportunity to the fullest, you have to be able to distinguish your business from everyone else who is competing for online attention. To do this, you need to follow a few simple rules. Marc calls these the Four Pillars of the New PR.

#1 – The first rule is to determine your strategy. This is not just what your business does, but also how it does it. You have to engage with your audience by including your values and your business direction in all of your online PR. If, for instance, your company prides itself on its environmental credentials, build these into all of your press releases. This will strengthen your brand awareness and build up online customer loyalty.

#2 – Secondly, make sure that you have a story. This needs to be consistent, and included in all of your press releases. Traditional PR depended upon making announcements, but today consumers are bombarded with hundreds of announcements every day. Including a story will make your material more memorable.

One way of doing this is to create a Persona for your company. This enables your customers to identify with you, and to become more engaged with your activities, and thus with your products or services. Some businesses have chosen to adopt the Persona of the underdog: the small company that has competed successfully with much larger rivals. This is a good way of gaining empathy, but other Personas can be equally effective.

#3 – The next rule is with respect to Search Engine Optimization. Optimize your content by making sure that your keywords appear in every press release headline, and throughout the text, including the first and last paragraphs. Also ensure that you use the keywords as tags for all associated multimedia such as video or audio clips.

SEO becomes particularly important when you consider one important difference between online and traditional PR: online PR is ‘evergreen’. Where printed media has a particular shelf life, online information can be accessed months, or years, later. If journalists, or others, want to research a company, they will turn to the Internet, and find all of the information that company has released, whether or not it is current. Even apparently ephemeral material, such as that relating to particular events, continues to have an online presence. This is another reason why consistency, of story, values, and branding, is essential.

#4 – The final thing to remember is the importance of social media. Your customers use Facebook, Twitter and other social media on an increasingly regular basis, and you have to make sure that your online PR takes this into account. Include connections with Facebook and Twitter in your online press releases, and also consider adding enhancements such as videos or slide shows.
If you follow all of these rules you will be able to produce a really effective online press release. You will build up your customer base, and maintain their loyalty. This will pay dividends immediately, and also in the longer term.