Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Modern Day Press Release

It took me four years of higher education to obtain my degree in English writing--not so long when considering the bigger life picture. During that time, I expect I was taught a good deal of the latest trends in writing and journalism. I graduated something like four years ago, and have to say that it never fails to amaze me how much has changed since I received that degree. Four years just doesn't seem that long ago for so much change.

When it comes to writing, the press release is no exception to all this change. What makes the modern day press release look so different? The answer is simple: the internet. Today's small businesses have the opportunity to gain the kind of exposure that larger corporations could only attain before the "world wide web" came about. It's this kind of exposure that makes the online press release different than the traditional.

Some things still remain the same between the two. For example, all the points I bring up in the Elements of a Good Press Release remain the same. It's not advertising, it should be adequately proofread, and a journalistic style of writing should be implemented.

So what's so different? Well, the main difference can be summed up with two words in particular: keyword optimization. An online press release is meant to increase rankings and drive traffic to your site. As with any SEO article, you need to consider which words people would most likely use to find your web site, always making sure that they appropriately describe the service, or product you are offering on your site. For example, if your press release claims you write press releases as a service, but all you actually do is edit, then don't use "write press release" as a key phrase. I guess I speak the obvious here, but nobody wants to find exactly the service they are looking for only to learn they have been tricked.

Another great difference is the inclusion of live links. You can include links in a traditional press release, but the link's worthless unless you go to your computer turn it on and manually insert it in your search engine - not a big deal or major amount of trouble, but many people would rather not be bothered. Here you can effortlessly click your way to the site of interest to learn more about the topic at hand. How convenient is that!

The most recent change in press releases which I'm sure will become even more popular in the near future is the use of podcasts with your press release. This is simply a short audio segment that highlights the most important part of the release. If done informatively, promptly, and professionally enough this new tool is sure to help you make the most of your press release.

The traditional press release is surely not extinct with the dinosaurs, nor will it ever be an endangered species as long as we have traditional forms of media, but the online press release is definitely a creature of its own. Thus it should be treated as such. Be sure to do your homework and know the differences.

This concludes my series on the press release. I hope you enjoyed it, and most of all took something useful with you. Until next time, have a wonderful day!


Matthew C. Keegan said...

Lisa, you did a very nice series about press releases -- good job!

Funny, how press releases have changed. In days past, getting the release "right" for the press was the only way it was done. Today, the press and the internet have to be considered.

I have customers who no longer care if their release is picked up by a reporter as all they want are backlinks to pages on their site.

Some customers push the sales pitch envelope, but I stop them when they attempt to cross that line.

Lisa Vella said...

It's funny though, I've actually seen the "sales pitch" release on reputable distribution sites. It really surprises me when I see them because you expect the standard to be higher and more professional. I suppose they are adhering to the old "customer is always right" rule. What do you do, I suppose.

I'm glad you enjoyed the series, Matt!

Have a lovely weekend!


Matthew C. Keegan said...

Lisa, the reputable press release services have given in to the monetary factor.

I've tested a few of these services by pushing just a bit over the edge with a sales angle and have gotten these releases approved.

While I haven't tried an overt pitch, I wouldn't be surprised if one of the smaller distributors took my money and published it, standards or not.

Irreverent Freelancer said...

Tag, you're it! See details here: http://irreverentfreelancer.blogspot.com/2007/10/8-random-things-about-irreverent.html.

Mihaela Lica said...

Sweetie, you couldn't be more wrong when it comes to the online press release. It's purpose should not be SEO. Never ever. This is why many online entrepreneurs go wrong.
The online press release serves the same purpose as the offline press release, with the difference that it has broader coverage and it is great for internationalization. SEO is a side-effect.

Lisa Vella said...


I agree with you completely. That's why I wrote this in the beginning: "Today's small businesses have the opportunity to gain the kind of exposure that larger corporations could only attain before the "world wide web" came about. It's this kind of exposure that makes the online press release different than the traditional."

I should have been more careful to specify that SEO is a side effect.

Thanks so much!