Why Press Releases Should Now Be Called News Releases

Two common questions we get about specific press releases are:

1. Do you think this release is likely to get much media attention?
2. Am I using keywords links effectively to maximize SEO value?

The answer to the first question, almost universally, is “no.” The answer to the second question is that Google now considers optimized links in press releases to be “link schemes,” and they no longer have SEO value.

Given that, is it even worth it for organization to still put out press releases? Yes.

As Rebecca Joyner recently wrote in an excellent MarketingProfs.com article, “With Little SEO Value Left in Them, Are Press Releases Still Worthwhile?” “Legitimate news announcements still serve as tools for market education, and they can still contribute to online discoverability via social networks and other channels. But some companies need a wake-up call about what they can really accomplish with an isolated press release, especially at a time when media and content strategies demand deep, broad, high-quality storytelling.”

Considering the current usage, it's better to use the term “news releases” than “press releases.” Due to social media and other online vehicles, the press is far from the only audience for releases; it’s much easier now for companies to reach potential buyers and other audiences directly. On the other hand, with the proliferation of releases, it’s actually much more difficult to get reporters and editors to read a particular news announcement among the sea of competition. That’s the primary reason we tell inquiring clients that publishing a release to an online wire service and doing nothing else isn’t likely to get much, if any, media attention.

Reaching target audiences isn’t as simple as just putting out your release via a major distribution service. To increase your readership, use smart tactics, such as distributing it via established social media networks (including relevant hashtags), putting keywords in the headline and subhead, following Google’s new rules about anchor text, and including pictures or video to make releases more sharable, Joyner said. 

We agree with these recommendations, and also suggest sending individual pitches to key press, analysts and influencers. We have created our HRmarketer software to help our clients do all these things successfully, providing the ability to instantly identify:

Plus, our news distribution system automatically conforms releases to Google’s anchor-text rules, and allows users to add videos and images.

But back to those client questions we posed at the start of this post. The first asked about media attention, the second about SEO. If the press release isn’t the right vehicle for accomplishing those goals, then what is?

Well, the right vehicle is different for media attention and SEO.

To garner media attention, the best tactic is, as we hinted at earlier, the well-crafted, brief individualized pitch. The first step to create a successful pitch is identifying reporters and editors who are engaged in the topic in your news. The second step is to create the email, briefly explain your news and why the particular journalist, and his or her readers, should care (it certainly doesn’t hurt to reference a previous article the journalist has written on the topic).

As for SEO, the best vehicle is creating a consistent stream of quality content. Google devalued press releases in SEO in part because it views them as content that its users didn’t want to read, so it didn’t want releases ranking high in search results. Nor did it want to reward organizations in search rankings for just putting out press releases. Instead, it wants to put high-quality content that its users are reading and sharing high on the list. And companies that are regularly putting out high-quality content focused on particular topics are now the ones finding themselves high on Page 1.

Post written by HRmarketer / Fisher VISTA team member Eric Anderson.

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