Ah, the press release...is it old school? Can it fit within an inbound marketing strategy? If so, what are press release best practices?
As an inbound marketer, you know the incredible value of producing helpful, SEO- and keyword-focused content to organically attract new prospects to your site, engage and convert them into leads, and nurture them into customers.
However, when you have a product launch, new service, achievement, or company event and need to get the message out right away, leveraging earned media initiatives like a good-old-fashioned press release can build awareness and augment your inbound strategy.
Earned Media vs. Owned Media
Before we dive into how to write a press release, let’s outline the differences between owned media and earned media.
What is Owned Media?
Owned media is online content that you manage, such as blogs, landing pages, gated content, and videos — basically anything you host on your website that remains in your control.
What is Earned Media?
Earned media is content about your brand that gets shared externally — outside your domain and control — like news outlets, radio, television, trade publications, or social channels.
Owned Media = content on your website, in your control
Earned Media = content about your brand, shared externally
Benefits of Publishing Press Releases
In addition to standard outlets like television, newspapers, and radio, there’s been an explosion of online news and media outlets for nearly every industry and every viewpoint in the last decade. While a press release from a complex B2B company like yours might not make the nightly news or go viral, you will still find value in publishing it for the following reasons:
- Establish authority — By publicizing your latest achievements, you’ll show your drive for excellence and innovation. You’ll also build public relations, credibility, and trust.
- Boost visibility — Getting external sources to publish your press release extends your reach to a much wider audience and increases brand awareness to those who may have never heard of you.
- Improve web traffic — When an external source publishes your press release, they’ll potentially include any backlinks you included, driving traffic directly to your website.
- Improve Search Engine Optimization — By focusing on a few carefully chosen keywords in your original publication, outside resources will likely repurpose them, thus indirectly boosting SEO and credibility on search engines.
- Engage customers — When your existing customers see you regularly promoting the latest innovations, patents, achievements, or company growth through press releases, they’re reassured of your expertise and ability to stay on the leading edge of your industry. Simply put, press releases can be supportive of your customer retention initiatives, and the same goes for efforts to reach potential customers.
What to Publish in a Press Release
We’ve hinted at some of the occasions when it’s right to send out press releases, but let’s expound.
- Product launches, patents, new and improved products, innovations, etc.
- New services, capabilities, or certifications that expand your expertise and ability to serve customers
- Upcoming company events, webinars, seminars, trade show appearances, community achievements, etc.
- New customer partnerships (with their permission)
- Company growth initiatives, such as new hires, building expansion, new partnerships or collaborations, awards, acquisitions, industry recognition, etc.
How to Optimize a Press Release
Even though your press release may serve a different purpose than a blog or advanced content marketing piece, it’s important to keep inbound methodologies in mind and optimize it for search. In addition to covering the who, what, when, where, and how related to your subject matter, you’ll want to keep the following in mind when developing your press release marketing strategy:
- Choose the right keywords — Conduct keyword research using tools like Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Wordtracker. Limit the number of keywords to 2-3 terms that don’t have too much competition.
- Choose the right SEO architecture — Where you place those targeted keywords matters. Use them in the headline, sub headline, and body of your press release, especially early on in the first couple of paragraphs. Be careful not to stuff keywords, however, or it could work against you.
- Use anchor text to link to related content — Naturally incorporate links in the first two paragraphs using descriptive and keyword-friendly anchor text. To maximize SEO, avoid linking to your home page and, instead, link to relevant, related content that helps a reader go more in depth.
- Include quotes and imagery when possible — Be sure to include some rich media, such as images or video highlighting the subject so it gets indexed by search engines. Also include your company logo along with any relevant alt tags and descriptive captions. Consider including a quote from your president, CEO, or other leaders to enrich your text and add a personal touch.
Tips for Promoting a Press Release on Your Owned Media
While getting external sources to share your press release is certainly a priority, make sure you’re doing everything you can to leverage your own platforms. Here are ways you can extend your press release’s reach:
- Re-publish the release on your own website (i.e. on your blog) along with relevant internal links and a CTA for a consultation to learn more
- Send an email to an appropriately segmented list in your database, announcing the news and leading to the version of the release on your website
- Sprinkle CTAs on your website leading to the release
- Publish a series of social media posts to promote the news including a link to the release on your website
- Create a series of blog posts providing additional, more in-depth information about the subject of your press release, such as its significance, benefits, case studies, etc.
Connect with appropriate media outlets as these followup articles are published, promoting the value to readers and pitching that the content be republished on their websites’ blogs or industry information sections (try to align the articles you’re pitching with the publications’ ed cals, which can sometimes be found and downloaded on their websites)
- Consider a paid media campaign to promote your content, depending on the significance of your announcement. Targeting prospective leads in your industry about a new product or service and how it helps address common pain points, for example, might pique the interest of a prospective buyer.
On that last point, to learn more about a paid media strategy as part of your overall inbound marketing plan, be sure to check out our Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Paid Media.
Even though formal press releases aren’t the prominent marketing tool they once were, they can still play a supportive role in your inbound marketing plan when done with purpose. Using these tips will help ensure it aligns with your overall marketing strategy.