How to Optimize Results for Your Digital Press Release

Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 in Lessons, PR Methodology | 0 comments

The most widely used document by PR practitioners to engage the media is a press release. It has not died; it’s simply used in different ways today and helps frame your ‘pitch’ to reporters.

The web-centric world makes it easier for both small and large companies to create and publish news through owned and paid channels such as your website and social networks, as well as wire services. Then let your influencers share it.

A multimedia news release (MMNR) is one way to convey your message. These ‘smart’ releases embed high-resolution photos and video, utilize SEO, include social media buttons and logos, infographics and have a summary of relevant links to other company or industry news — all in this one spot to better help tell your story.  Adapting these releases to the digital space creates a higher likelihood that your story – in words or visuals – gets picked up by various sites and enhances your chances for earned media or news coverage. For credibility, we include quotes by third parties such as customers, clients, an academic, a politico or other expert.

MMNRs reside on paid platforms like PRNewswire; earned media channels such as news placements; shared media like social channels; and owned media like a company’s website.

Multimedia press release

The National Press Club states that 63 percent of all humans prefer to learn through kinesthetic learning or interactions and imagery that have an impact on PR and media consumption.

In The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott talks about the past and future of press releases by reminding us that in the old days, the news release was only created to give to the press and for companies to announce their news to the public. The rule of thumb was to have ‘significant’ news before sending a press release. “Significant” is all relative.

News should be ‘significant’ to others: customers, vendors, partners, investors, and community. Stop and answer this question before creating a release. “What is the compelling information for why people will care?”

If you are a public company, any “material’ news could affect the stock and requires a release to make it public. Journalists, editors and assignment planners are the gatekeepers who accept or share and influence the flow of your information. Press releases are seen by millions of people searching the web daily. Free distribution sites like and Newswire and paid sites like PRNewswire and BusinessWire allow organizations to connect with global or specific geographical audiences.

At Ballast, we advise clients to use a press release only for significant news like a product launch, executive announcement, earnings, a study or survey results, and industry news.

Examples of when not to issue a release? A new website, a new address, or every new hire. We recommend VP level or above for personnel announcements. More effective ways to share less significant news is through your owned media (website, social media, email marketing).

Multimedia news release

One consistency that stands the test of time when writing a digital press release is to answer the 5W’s – who, what, why, where, when. Leave the ‘how’ for the interview. Keep releases short. The goal of a news release is like a resume – get an interview that leads to exposure for you or your organization. Releases still follow the format of having a

  • Title and subtitle
  • Dateline
  • Intro paragraph
  • Body
  • Boiler plate (‘About Us’)
  • Quotes preferably by third parties
  • Statistics
  • Trends
  • Contact
  • Forward-looking statements

To gain the most views by journalists, producers and bloggers, create content that is accurate, relevant and timely. Include behind-the-scenes digital components for success and shareability.

  1. Keywords –  to help ensure that your message will be picked up by both your audiences and Google. (Google indexes the page and can give a PageRank)
  2. Page Title – write it for SEO and your audiences. It should be an accurate description of your page’s content.
  3. Meta Description – describe your message in 160 characters for SEO and your audience and include your keywords. It summarizes your page’s content when shown in the search results page (underneath the page title).
  4. Anchor text – this is a clickable link in your release that can be opened to another page.
  5. Alt tags – are an alternative text description of your images.
  6. URL – make sure this is written in plain English and that is short and describes the page.

What other best practices do you believe lead to great results for press releases? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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