Press Release Writing Tactics: 2014 Update

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Press Release Writing Tactics: 2014 Update

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Introduction & Overview What we’ll cover: Today’s digital media realities Real world examples with tactical highlights Extreme press release makeover! Q&A

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Is your PR content: Published in a responsive design environment? Created with small screens in mind? Useful for journalists who are developing content their audiences (who are also demonstrating these characteristics?)

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The research starts online, and it starts with search engines.

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However, social is more important than you may think and these numbers indicate.

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Social media popularity absolutely informs search engine rankings & drives overall online visibility.

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People consuming your content on mobile devices are ready to act. Source: iAcquire

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Digital media realities: 1. Your messages are competing with people’s coworkers, spouses and the Internet’s cutest kittens baby animals for attention. [But we are consuming more digital media throughout the day, so you have a better shot at getting our attention.] 2. Content that isn’t read won’t have a shot at conveying branding or building awareness. 3. Social media popularity dictates a lot of what we see.

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Some other things we need to re-think: Timing Objectives Visuals Measurement Timelines

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Timing: is the launch dead?

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Social sharing is an outcome.

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CVS fueled social sharing & extended news coverage with a snappy headline, great CEO quote & lots of visuals.

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Quotes can humanize a brand and create social traction.

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The role of the visual is myriad: Visuals get people to read your story Good visuals can drive news coverage Fuel social sharing Increase visibility on search engines & social networks Find audiences where text alone cannot (Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram) CNN ran b-roll from CVS on its web site.

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Press releases can do more than generate media. They can generate leads. You just have to pay attention.

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SocialRadar Unequivocal headline Multiple visuals including a demo Call to action! Download here!

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Bullets and bold highlight key points Writer anticipates reader questions Social links invite interaction

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An experiment In November, I issued a handful of press releases to promote blog posts published on Beyond PR (http://blog.prnewswire.com.) The objective: Develop a better understanding of how links functioned in press releases. Method: One unique, trackable URL was embedded in the second or third paragraphs of the press releases. Here are the results.

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Press release with a trackable URL embedded

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Hundreds of sites syndicated the story – and the embedded link

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To date the URL has generated 443 clicks.

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Since November, the press releases issued to promote blog posts tallied 1,500 clicks on the trackable URLs embedded in each. These are new readers we otherwise would not have reached.

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EXTREME MAKEOVER Press Release Edition The results will amaze you!

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Provocative headline draws readers in. Subhead adds more detail Lead paragraph starts with an interesting statement, not boilerplate. Bold font and provocative section heads draw readers’ eyes in, and build more attention. Restrained use of links directs readers to a specific call to action.

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All boilerplate material, event information and branding (except the mention in the subhead) are moved to the bottom of the release. The higher-value real-estate at the top of the message is solely devoted to gaining and keeping reader interest.

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Readers’ eyes move over a web page in an F-shaped pattern Source: Nielsen Norman Group

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F the press release! By which I mean this: structure your content to fit the path your readers’ eyes naturally take as they scan a page. (Not that any other thought popped into your heads. Certainly not.)

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Every element of your message needs to drive to your objective, e.g. driving traffic to a web site, getting people to register, or inspiring media coverage.

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Ask yourself why you’re using each word and phrase in the news releases you write …. and be sure the answer is “To gain and keep reader attention and direct them toward a specific action.”

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Headlines Write the headline you want to see on the article in a target publication. Write a headline that is interesting enough to tweet. Is Chip and Pin the Answer to Retail Security? SecureState Offers Advice for Industry After Massive Target and Neiman Marcus Breaches, Retailers Look to Tech to Solve their Woes CLEVELAND, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In the days following news that Target's compromise was much larger than originally reported, affecting 110 million customers opposed to 70 million, retailer Neiman Marcus announced that they too were hacked. What followed was a rash of security and retail experts offering up chip and pin technology as a solution to this problem.

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Links: No extraneous links. You don’t need a link to your company home page in the first sentence. Employ links strategically. Links should not dilute the reader’s attention away from the message’s mission. Never ever ever link to the same URL more than once within your message. Never. Links are a reader service, not an SEO trick or means to drive traffic to a web site.

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Structure your message to keep and retain interest. Don’t put anything that could slow down your reader between the headline and the action you want. Dump the speed bump! Keep boilerplate where it belongs! Use bold text to highlight and set off paragraph heads within the message. Be sure the paragraph heads call attention to specific, interesting information. Tip: use them to highlight different topic angles or facts. Another tip: envision them as tweets. Use bullet points or a numbered list to highlight related tips, facts, etc. and to break up endless blocks of text. Embed a link to a video or other interesting asset two/thirds of the way down (after your original call to action) to refresh reader interest if it’s flagging, and to provide more relevant information.

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Thank you! Twitter: @sarahskerik LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/sarahskerik Blog: http://blog.prnewswire.com/ author/sarahskerik http://prn.to/1fpAdLD