A lot has changed with press releases over the years, particularly in the last few months thanks to Google’s algorithm updates. While the press release is still alive and well, not to mention very useful, it’s undoubtedly in a period of transition. That’s why I thought it’d be a good idea to come up with a set of guidelines to keep in mind as you write your press releases going forward. Some of these rules are new, and others date back to the press release’s origins.
So, without any further ado, here are the new 10 commandments of press releases:
Thou shalt be newsworthy and engaging—A few years ago, press releases were one of the best tools for improving search rankings. As you might remember, people started abusing this fact by dumping out tons of low quality, meaningless press releases to free directories all across the web. Needless to say, it didn’t take Google long to crack back against these manipulative practices. Today, press releases are no longer a pure SEO tool. Today, press releases are only effective if they are newsworthy and provide a great user experience.
Thou shalt not stuff keywords—The days of stuffing keywords into your press releases to drive rankings are long gone. With the recent integration of the Hummingbird algorithm, Google is more concerned with conversational search and user intent than it is with just keywords. Focus on creating content your audience wants and needs, and you’ll be just fine.
Thou shalt use links to provide information, not for SEO purposes—It wasn’t long ago at all that press releases were great for building inbound links to your website. But now, press release links don’t carry any true SEO value. In fact, Google wants you to use nofollow links in your press releases, treating them like paid links in advertisements. That means no more using keyword-rich anchor text in your press release links. Only include informational links that add to the user experience.
Thou shalt keep it tight and to the point—No one wants to read a long, meandering press release. Keep your releases concise and lean, including only the most important information. One thing you can do is to use numbered lists or bullet points to highlight key information in your press release, making it easier to quickly scan through.
Thou shalt make your press release easy to share—If you want your news to really get noticed, you need to develop a social sharing strategy. You want your press releases to spread across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. So, make them easy to share. Include social sharing buttons in your press releases. Use short, Tweetable headlines. Add visuals that people want to share.
Thou shalt include visuals—I just mentioned it, but I’ll say it again: Include visual aids whenever possible in your press releases. Things like infographics, videos, and photos can make your press releases more eye-catching and more engaging. It’s all about dressing up your press release to make it as appealing as possible.
Thou shalt tell a story—Incorporating storytelling into your press releases makes them more engaging, memorable, sharable, and re-tellable. This is a really great post with tips to use storytelling in your press releases.
Thou shalt expand your distribution—It’s time to increase the visibility of your press releases. You need to expand your distribution. Use social networks to report important news. Use your blog as a news distribution channel. Do whatever you can to get your news noticed!
Thou shalt not use stale quotes—The quote is one of the most neglected parts of the press release. Too often, generic quotes are placed in the release as a mere afterthought. What many people don’t realize is that quotes can be great tools for spicing up your story. They can add new layers to your story, so use them wisely.
Thou shalt focus on building relationships—PR still really boils down to relationships. You need to build relationships with journalists, bloggers, and your customers. That’s how you’ll get people to notice and care about your news.
Do you agree with these 10 commandments of press releases? What would you add to the list?