My Thoughts on Press Releases
The truth is, so many people are posting press releases now that search engines are the only things reading them. So unless a search engine finds enough good keywords in there, no one will read it. Journalists and bloggers doing research on a topic will likely just do a search for the most relevant keywords. Therefore, just as important as readability or conveying important information is making sure the machines like it. That means optimizing search engine scores. For press releases, I like to choose 3-4 keywords to target. Often, we want insomnia and snoring.
In our latest press release on our new iPhone App, however, we want sleep, iPhone and App. So at the end of writing everything, I check with a keyword analyzer to make sure they are among the top 10 words with 4 letters or above. Then I write a title that contains the keywords I want and throw in highly charged words that grab attention. If the journalists look through a list of headlines in a listing of press releases, you want to have something that will grab them. I'm not a professional copywriter, but there are various techniques out there. One that I use the most is this headline analyzer. http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm I don't know just how effective it is, but it's interesting. I try different words to make sure the headline scores highly on this system. The other headline gimmick is to use words like "free," "new," "discovered," "amazing," or other kitsch words you see on infomercials.
I have a distaste for over-blown exaggerations, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to be competitive in conditions of information overload. We managed to use Free and New for our last press release title. So to me, the two things that are critical in writing a press release is to have a great headline and SEO optimization. For the first 3 years of this business, I was the one writing the press releases. Since money was tight, I wanted to make sure that every release that we paid to get out there was completely optimized in every way. I did lots of research, and it made sense to me. One of our earliest releases really helped us to be established in the area of sleep and headphones, our most important keywords. We are still at the top of Google for "sleep headphones." Yay!