How to Write an Online Press Release
The Internet has changed how we write, both for personal and business purposes. And we’re not just talking about the unique, choppy Twitter language that is still emerging and constantly evolving (LOL!). We’re talking about substantive content written with purpose.
The limits of print are obvious: You have less space, updating content over time is difficult and you have almost no ability to interact with readers. Blogging and online marketing opens you to a ripe world of reader and customer interaction. The tools you need are out there. You just need to know how to use them.
One method for getting out your message is the online press release. You can post it directly to your blog, or you can link to an outside hosting service. A press release will help your message to be more official, and you can reach a much wider audience. I’ve outlined a few tips for getting the most from an online press release, and I hope you’ll find the information useful.
Keep Your Headline Clear
Let’s start at the top. A key difference between an online and paper press release is how it’s presented. In the olden days (some four or five years ago), your typed single-page press release would be faxed or emailed to a list of recipients. Ideally, all relevant information would be seen right away, and the headline would be simply one piece of the equation.
Today, however, a press release might simply be posted to a website. While that potentially broadens your audience, it limits the visibility of the text itself and gives a greater importance to a short, succinct headline (which might be all your audience ever sees). Keep in mind that your press release is likely to be sandwiched between others. You want to stand out.
With that in mind, try to be short and punchy with your headline. You want relevant info, sure, but you don’t want to lose the reader right away because of a sticky headline packed with commas, qualifiers, adverbs, whatever else. If you think it’s important to get time/date/place out front, even before your lead, consider using a subhead.
Use Keywords Sparingly and Effectively
If you’re writing for the web, you probably understand the value of keywords crawled by search engines. In an online press release, just like with a blog post or a web page, it’s important to place your keywords strategically. Meld them carefully into a natural sentence. For example, if your keywords are “vehicle tracking software” or “merchant processing services,” try something like this:
“Known as a leading provider of vehicle tracking software, the ABC Company has introduced XYZ service,” or, “Company A recently announced important changes to its merchant processing services in order to streamline secure payments.”
Don’t overdo it, either. If your press release is 300 to 400 words (roughly the length of a single-page printed release), two keyword phrases should suffice. If you go much higher than that, you risk being flagged by search engines, or your reader could be turned off by the clutter.
When possible, squeeze those keywords into your headline. But as we said above, don’t sacrifice a good headline to get to those keywords. You can’t drop a link in your headline, so no harm in saving them for later.
Include Relevant Information
Sounds obvious, right? But you’d be surprised how many press releases are packed with filler, especially when SEO is involved.
While one goal of an online press release is be to generate web traffic, your human readers want meat. They’re the ones who will click the link to the release, and they want valuable information. Treat your press release like a news story, with the most relevant information up front in the style of the “inverted pyramid” of news. If your reader only skims the teaser text of a link, you want them to take away relevant information (think Five W’s – who, what, when, where and why). Within that, you will have plenty of opportunities to drop in keywords for the sake of SEO.
Give Your Reader Somewhere to Go Next
The Internet is interactive. That’s why people prefer it. So why not take advantage of that? When you write a press release for an online audience, it’s ok to direct them to your site without the use of formal SEO-style writing. Let them know that you can provide them with more information, and show them where they can find it. It’s sometimes nice to have a promotion to which you can link so that you have an active way to keep your reader involved.
Your teaser could resemble one of the following: “A list of upcoming events can be viewed here (link),” “To receive a free consultation, visit this (link) page,” or, “Detailed product information is available at the ABC Company website (link).” You get the idea.
In summary, when writing a press release for the web, follow some of the standard writing rules, but always keep in mind that you can do more. Optimize your release. Reach out to a larger audience. And do what you can to stand out.