Everything I know about press releases I learned from David Meerman Scott.
In 2006, David published a free ebook “The New Rules of PR: How to create a press release strategy for reaching buyers directly” that changed the way I promote my business. His thoughts captured some of what I had observed about marketing and the internet, but he took me to a destination I would never have reached on my own. His extensive marketing background and experience helped me to understand things in a new way.
Press Release Writing
I’m a writer. I write many types of things for a variety of clients ranging from marketing to technical, from proposals to websites, and for print and online distribution. I’ve been very fortunate to have excellent word-of-mouth about my services, so I haven’t needed to do much marketing. I’ve capitalized on my technical skills to build my first company website in 1996, and I’ve used most of the new technologies as they have appeared. But write a press release? That was way out of my league, at least it was before David codified the new rules of PR.
After I understood the new rules, I understood that the press release is the spark plug of the marketing engine. As David suggested, I started looking for excuses to write a press release, including:
- Publishing an ebook
- Landing a new client
- Signing a large contract with an existing client
- Getting an article published
- Being interviewed
Suddenly, I was writing a press release every 4-6 weeks to highlight business accomplishments and milestones.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some of the most useful press release writing tips and tricks I’ve learned (and figured out) over the years.
- Fill your press release with the target keywords for your business and activity. This type of copy writing helps your press release appears high in the most desirable search results.
- Include hyperlinks to destinations inside and outside of your company website. Not only do you gain search engine results benefits, but you provide a practical service for the people who read your press release.
- Attach the links to words and phrases that reinforce the link destination. The choice of words for the hyperlink anchor help you with search results placement.
- Create a PDF of your press release for distribution. The PDF format allows reader to use hyperlinks and retains your intended formatting.
- Use hyperlinks within the press release text and include a list of links at the end. Some media outlets still require you to fax press releases, which means that they can’t use the embedded hyperlinks. Don’t include the links within the press release text because it reduces readability.
- Don’t link to a web address that redirects. Instead, always link to a direct web address.
- Provide online and offline contact information. This includes your web address, email, phone, and Twitter account information.
- Create a Word document with your media press release connections. In table format, identify the publication, the department or person, the fax number (if appropriate), and the email account (if appropriate). Update this list each time you distribute a press release.
Press Release Grader
Did you know there is a service that evaluates your press release for free? Press Release Grader identifies ways you can improve your press release and gives you an overall score. It also checks your press release for any occurrence of meaningless words using the information provided by another David Meerman Scott ebook, The Gobbledygook Manifesto.
I love the Press Release Grader, and only have one problem with it. I write my press releases in Word, and when I paste them into the grader, Word includes a lot of formatting and garbage content that I must clean out manually to get an accurate press release analysis. To do this, paste in your press release, then switch to HTML mode. Highlight and delete the formatting text before you click the Grade Press Release button.