A Musician's Guide To Press Releases
May 8, 2013
How to Make Press Releases Social Media-Friendly
Interesting, shareable content is at the heart of social media, and press releases are an excellent content source. The challenge, though, is that a standard press release can be a bit of a snore, especially when you consider the typical online user who’s used to consuming quick bites of information. You can help maintain interest by adding more interactive, social media-friendly elements to your published press announcements.
Here are three ways to “socialize” a press release:
- Show, Don’t Tell. A study by PR Newswire found that multimedia releases – press releases that included photos, videos, infographics, logos, etc. – were shared 3.5 times more often than text-only releases. Additionally, they found that multimedia content had a longer “shelf life,” holding readers’ interest for more than twice as long as their text-only counterparts. And, if someone wants to cover your news, he or she instantly has creative assets for the article, too.
Don’t have a video or slideshow for every announcement? Don’t worry, many of us don’t. But even something as simple as your band logo or a couple of photos can be a cool visual to break up copy.
- Sharing is Caring. One of the easiest things to implement is a “Share This” bar to each release. This has become so ubiquitous with written content that readers almost expect it, and your press announcements are no exception. Plus, you get analytics to see what news gets the most interest.
- Links are Your Friends. If you’re directing press and non-press people to your posted release, they might not immediately know how to navigate around your site if they want more information.
An easy way to solve this problem is to add a “For more information” section at the end of your press release with links to relevant product pages and/or previous announcements. Say you’re a singer and you have just posted a press release about your newest album. You might want to provide links to previous press releases for older material, as well as links to your Facebook and iTunes artist page. The idea is to create a pleasant user experience for your readers, wherever they happen to come from.
Get Your Press Releases Found Online
Back in the day, press releases were sent to journalists who would read them and then decide whether or not to tell the rest of the world. But today – thanks to the Internet – reporters are no longer the gatekeepers. Instead, you can distribute a press release through an online newswire service and it can be re-posted on lots of news websites.
So the challenge is how to increase the chances of your releases appearing in search engine results. Here are a few search engine optimization tips for press releases:
- Identify Keywords: Identify two or three of your top keyword phrases. What words might customers type into search engines to look for you or your music. Also, think about your competition. If you’re a band from Portland, Oregon, the term “Portland band” might not be your best keyword because you’ll be competing with not just current bands from Portland but all bands in the history of Portland. Instead, using your band or artist name along with the location will give you better results.
- Consider Company Name: Include your artist or band name and most important keyword phrase in the press release headline. Your headline also is usually your title tag – title tags are the text that appears in your browser’s title bar and search engines deem them very important.
Tip: Keywords in the beginning of a title tag tend to have more weight and ranking power than those near the end.
- Think About Your Headline: Keep your headline between 60 to 80 characters, including spaces. Google only displays about 65 characters in a headline, so you want to fit it all in there if you can. We know, it’s not a lot of space. And, it’s OK if you go over, just make sure the most important stuff is in the first 65 characters or so. A subhead is a great place to go into more details.
- Key in on Keywords: Include your top keyword phrases in the first paragraph of the press release. Search engines place more weight on text that appears in the beginning of a piece of content. This makes sense; the first few paragraphs are usually the most relevant anyway, right?
- Link Keywords: Hyperlink those keyword phrases to relevant pages on your website. For example, if one of your keyword phrases is “fair trade coffee,” you want to hyperlink that term and have it go to a page on your website that describes how your coffee is fair trade. This tells the search engines that your keyword is highly relevant to other content on your site, and search engines value relevance above all else.
- Share Real News: Make sure your press release communicates something that’s actually newsworthy. OK, this might not be directly rated to search engine optimization, but it’s super important to PR success. Just because you’re not going through traditional media to get your information out there doesn’t mean that readers don’t expect real news and professional writing. They do. If your press release sounds like advertising or has errors, you compromise your brand. And once it’s out there, there’s no taking it back.
And one more thing to remember: Search engine optimization takes time, so don’t expect your press release to get on Page 1 of Google for your keywords overnight. Be patient, consistent and in time your press releases should start moving up the list!
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