The value of press releases has been a topic for debate for a few years now, and we heard it discussed recently on a PRSA Google+ Hangout with several top Los Angeles tech reporters. That inspired us to give our answer: we contend the press release is not dead! Coincidentally, so did all of the LA reporters on the Google+ Hangout.
Here are three reasons why the press release is still a knockout tool in public relations –
1) Helps reporters fact check: Whether or not a reporter interviews a source, they still rely on press releases for the important details. Several of the reporters at the PRSA Google+ Hangout said they use press releases for fact checking. Releases provide pertinent details such as dates, properly attributed quotes, features, pricing and availability in one quick, accessible resource. Is the press release dead? “Absolutely not,” said Natalie Jarvey, tech writer for the Hollywood Reporter. The details are especially important for time sensitive news. “[The press release] has all the information you need,” says Ben Kuo, of SocalTech.com.
Pro tip: Make sure your release has those key data points. Hard facts, quantifiable numbers, and real data is important to give your press release life.
2) Provides SEO and general visibility: Your press release can increase search engine optimization (SEO) and help your company be seen by current customers, potential customers, and the media. Thanks to Internet distribution, these key audiences can see your press release on RSS feeds and news portals, and be inspired to give you a call. We regularly get calls from reporters who saw a client’s latest press release and wanted more information.
Pro tip: Use professional newswires for the best distribution online, know the key times to release news for optimum visibility, and always do custom pitches for coverage.
3) Builds your content marketing toolkit: To continue to rank well in search engines, websites and blogs need regular updates with fresh content. Updating your website’s News section with the latest press release is a great way to keep it refreshed. The same goes for your blog. And press releases really get nine lives when they’re used as posts on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Pro tip: Make sure when updating your website or blog with a press release that you use a platform that can be easily read by search engines. Some methods are easier than others.
The press release IS learning to share: Those are several reasons why the press release is still alive. But it is evolving, as are other news-dissemination tools. The press release is no longer the only viable platform for public disclosure. In March 2013, the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Facebook and Twitter were considered valid for corporate disclosures. Some companies strictly use their blog as the place to share company news.
The important thing to remember is the press release tells your story, and it has to be legitimate news backed by real facts. There are still people out there who wrongly believe press releases can use “spin” to make something out of nothing. That is not the case! Sometimes, a press release is just not the right option. For example, if someone important said something nice about your company? Great – put it on social media. Or your age-old software got its 15th update? Unless it’s a major change, put it on your blog and send the update to specific audiences. Your latest news may be best suited for another tactic.
We see great value in press releases and were so pleased to hear several reporters agree with us. We encourage our clients to use press releases to share newsworthy information, and we’re always happy to provide guidance on what is, or isn’t, appropriate for a press release.
Long live the press release!
This blog was contributed by Lexy Haynes,Director of Client Services at Clearpoint Agency.
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Throughout the last 100 years, a number of new technologies have shaken the foundation of marketing strategy. New rules, ideas and tools capitalized on the weaknesses of the popular trends before them and opened up exciting ways to reach target audiences. Before there was TV, there was radio, and before radio, there was print. Each time a new technological innovation came along, a new trend in the way an audience could be reached emerged. Marketers adjusted and adopted strategies to be successful in the marketplace; those who failed to adapt died off. The same is true today.
The most recent shift in marketing trends has been the heavy focus placed on mobile marketing. In the first six months of 2012, marketers spent $1.2 Billion on mobile advertising, compared to $3 Billion in the first six months of 2013. The fast-growing budget isn’t slowing down either. According to a LinkedIn Marketing Solutions report on Mashable, 64 percent of marketers and agencies will increase their mobile advertising budgets this year. In fiscal terms, mobile ad spending is projected to surpass $13 Billion in 2014.
Why are these budgets skyrocketing? It’s because the average consumer spends more than half of their time online on a mobile device or smartphone. The latest TapSense mobile marketing report on Forbes.com mentions why marketers see this as a great money-making opportunity. According to the report, “79% of smartphone users are ‘smartphone buyers.’” This enormous market is still increasing in size, but there is no clear-cut path to reach them.
Currently, the most popular way to reach this demographic is through social media. According to the LinkedIn report, “17% of the time people spend on their mobile devices is on a social network.” This large target demographic already spends more than half of their online time on mobile, and a large chunk of that time is to access social media. Because of this, TapSense identifies social media as the best tactic for marketing to a mobile audience, and advises agencies to tailor their content to social network apps.
Our advice to you is to figure this mobile game out as well. The experts at MarketingProfs agree, expecting marketers “to significantly increase their investment in mobile,” because those that do “will find significant ROI from mobile marketing in 2014.”
This blog was contributed by Ryan Sabatini, Account Coordinator at Clearpoint Agency.
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B2B companies use social media to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic and generate leads. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 87% of B2B brands use social media to engage audiences and distribute digital content to prospective and current customers. If you’re looking to increase engagement, it is important to have a strong social media strategy. Here are six core elements to keep in mind when you implement your social plan.
1. Make sure you know your audience and the social channels your customers and potential customers prefer. If you don’t have the bandwidth to manage all major social channels out there, pick two or three your audience seems to prefer and concentrate your presence on them.
2. Polish your social channels to perfection. This includes having a custom design or background, aligning your logo to fit the space provided, filling out accurately all fields of content, and making sure everything is consistent with your company messaging, website and brand.
3. Create an editorial calendar for your posts. News can change based on company developments, but having an ed cal handy won’t hurt. This is meant especially for holidays, national industry days, charity events and so on.
4. Monitor engagement regularly. Show your fans and followers that you are on top of it and respond to their comments promptly. Setting up email alerts will help you monitor your social media activity closely.
5. Track your analytics. If you consistently look at the analytics, you will get a better understanding of peak times when your audience is more likely to engage, which kinds of posts they find more interesting and how often you should generate activity.
6. Lastly, don’t forget the visuals. It has been proven that posts that include appealing images generate more engagement. Make sure you own the rights of the image or use public domain photos. It’s a good idea to set aside a budget for a stock image subscription.
There is no perfect formula out there to guarantee social media success. Once you know your audience well and have created solid social media channels for your company, monitor the analytics and engagement and enjoy the social space. Also, remember that you need to be ready to experiment with your posts, visuals and timing. Happy sharing!
This post was contributed by Antonia Genov, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency.
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I was recently asked to create a video to share with Public Relations and Marketing students at SDSU. The goal was to hear from PR professionals about their experiences working in the field. In particular, they had two questions: what I wish someone had told me about PR, and what my favorite part about working in PR is. We thought it’d be a valuable thing to share on our blog too.
Check out the video for my answers here: http://youtu.be/CTiF7EqpF0M, or read highlights below!
What do I wish someone had told me about PR before I entered the field? I had two answers:
- Lead with your writing skills. There is a misconception that PR is all about hosting events, networking, and engaging in-person with people. The reality is that the majority of our work in PR is sitting at a computer writing. When you prepare to enter the field of PR, lead with your writing skills and make sure they’re great. Because you’re going to need them.
- Be prepared for a never-ending balancing act. In public relations, your day is never the same. We are constantly getting requests, both expected and unexpected, from coworkers and clients, and we have to be able to manage an always-changing list of priorities. You have to be flexible and organized.
My favorite part about PR? My answer is simple, but I think it really is the true essence of what I love about the job:
- I love being a problem solver to our clients. Just doing great work that takes care of their needs and helps them do their job better. Whether it’s analyzing survey data, writing a creative press release, or crafting an award nomination that wins, I love creating and delivering a beautiful piece of work that solves my clients’ problems. It’s very gratifying and I get to do it every day.
If you ever have questions about the life of a PR pro, feel free to contact me at the office or on Twitter at @ayates. I also highly recommend checking out your local PRSA chapter. In particular, San Diego has a great chapter for new professionals, click here for more info. (Shout out to our own Antonia G. who is currently serving on the New Pros board.)
This post was contributed by Lexy Haynes, Senior Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency
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Recently our public relations firm received three Bernays Awards from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for media relations, internal communications and blogs. We also recently placed as a finalist in PR Daily’s Digital PR Awards 2013 for best website for our agency’s website redesign. Clearpoint Agency has been entering and winning these types of awards throughout its 11 year history.
I won’t lie, it feels good to win! But entering your work for these types of awards is time-consuming and costly in terms of man hours. And when combined with the entry fee, award dinner tickets, and often a new outfit so you can look good as you sit there with your fingers crossed, awards are an expensive endeavor. So why does Clearpoint enter these awards year after year? And why do we suggest you enter awards in your industry, too?
Verify Excellence. Awards affirm you are doing great work, creating stellar products and employing the best in class techniques. Especially when the award entries are judged on the merits of quality and creativity, or whatever criteria is most appropriate in your industry, by impartial professionals or experts.
Keep You Focused. Let’s face it, there are shortcuts for everything. Yes, even in PR. But the process of completing winning award submissions reminds us that by developing solid strategies and following the correct process – research, planning, execution and evaluation – we assure the marketplace we are creating strategies that are well-thought out and objective-driven. As a PR firm, we know that inventive and sexy PR programs can be exciting, but do they do any good if they don’t address the market accurately or meet client communication objectives and business goals? No.
Raise Visibility. People like to do business with a winner. Awards communicate excellence to business prospects, partners, associations, recruits and opinion leaders. For awards that are more than a popularity contest, like the PRSA Bernays Awards, the market has one more way to judge your importance in your particular industry and standing against competitors.
Improve SEO. Award announcements, in the form of press releases, blogs, and social media posts also boost your search engine optimization (SEO). Fresh content, photos, links and posts all work to raise your visibility with search engines. So don’t be shy about spreading the word if you are honored with an award.
Attract and Retain Talent: In the PR agency business, talent retention is an important goal. It may be a challenge in your industry as well. If you submit the company’s work for awards and receive accolades, your employees feel confident they are working for a company that produces top-notch work or products. They feel proud and part of something that is deemed “award-winning.” The benefit? Increased loyalty.
Awards are also important for recruiting. Today’s job hunters do a lot of research before they apply. Awards on your website and news sites makes you attractive to young professionals and experienced professionals alike.
Onboard New Employees: We use our award-winning submissions as examples of good work to show our new employees as part of the onboarding process. They are a great way to explain who our clients are, show how we develop PR programs, and detail creative strategies we have used in the past to get results. In your business, you can do the same and set the stage for the quality level you expect from new hires.
Help Land New Business: Awards provide third-party validation and signal to prospective customers that they are making a good choice in considering your company, particularly if the award is for a market area or business challenge that is paramount for them as well.
Create Another Line in Your Company’s Story: When you win, tell the world. We put out a press release when we win awards. When people search for PR firms, we want them to see that Clearpoint consistently does award-winning work and our peers recognize us for that. It also helps us tell our firm’s story of consistent quality and goal-driven PR that keeps our client retention high, and keeps us loving what we do! By broadcasting your good news to the world, you are sharing your culture and improving your history.
So, are award submissions difficult and costly? Absolutely! Should you enter the next time you are proud of your product or service? Without a doubt!
This post was contributed by Bonnie Shaw, Clearpoint Agency President.
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A Recap of Social Fresh West 2013, San Diego, CA
Attending the Social Fresh West conference in San Diego last week confirmed for me that as much as the social and digital space focuses on technology, it takes a backseat to emotional connections. The conference featuring various au courant speakers, emphasized the need to get through all the noise, find the right place, the right time, to say the right thing in the right format AND make your customer FEEL something. At the heart of this media technology frenzy, are the hearts of people.
It’s all about great content.
Sarah Evans of @journchat fame said great content makes people want to share, care or swear. As far back as 2009, media scholar Henry Jenkins brilliantly noted: If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.
Brian Solis, social space thought leader, made clear that businesses now compete for attention and relevance. Social is no longer a business tactic but rather a philosophy and lifestyle. Psychographics trump demographics. Solis introduced the concept of Generation-C (connected), defined by behavior, not age. Empowered by information, these individuals are demanding, sophisticated and vocal.
Closing out the celebration of Clearpoint Agency’s 10 year anniversary, the following are 10 take-aways from Social Fresh West 2013 that relate to great content, being relevant and creating an emotional connection in the social space.
- Know your customer. This requires knowing how and where they will engage with you based on their current behaviors and understanding their current relationship with your brand and with your other customers.
- Know yourself, your organization, your products and your goals. This requires knowing how you can improve your customer’s life; knowing how you can change the relationship between you and your customers, and amongst your customers; and finally clearly defining what you are trying to accomplish for your organization. In “Groundswell,” Li and Bernoff list what organizations can accomplish in social including listening which serves a researching function and support which can serve as customer support or help. Knowing your organization includes understanding your limits and capacity: can you be accountable? Intuit’s Global Head of Social, Adrian Parker, shared that in order to maintain a healthy relationship with your customer you need to be able to provide 3 positive experiences to your customer for any negative one.
- Manage the “Brand Divide”. This is Solis’ term for the gap between the brand promise and the customer experience. Sometimes what you do will make your customers feel anger or frustration. This will also be shared. It will take a lot more effort to right a wrong, rather than making the effort to keeping your customers happy in the first place.
- Content must be mobile optimized. Marketing Strategist and Consultant Tim Hayden shared that more than 70 percent of social activity occurs on mobile devices. Consuming and sharing content should be effortless with minimal clicking, tapping or delay! Solis suggests having content “born digital” where experiences and services align with Generation-C’s expectations, consistently across all devices.
- Master the #hashtag. Bryan Srabian, director of social media for the San Francisco Giants (who have the most Instagramed MLB stadium), advocates simple, consistent and easy-to-remember hashtags. Tim Hayden emphasized the importance of knowing popular, no-brand hashtags (e.g. #nofilter #instagood #fail), and capitalizing on trending hashtags as discussed in Ryan’s Clearpoint Agency blog post earlier.
- Visuals are the new headlines. The importance of visuals was emphasized by almost all the speakers. Generation-C’s notorious short attention spans, allow you only seconds to grab them: visuals are more engaging and sharing inducing. Sarah Evans introduced the term the “Pintristification & Instagramization” of content. Ask yourself – is this image pin-worthy and sharable? Great content is generally great looking. She strongly recommends investing in great design when budget and bandwidth allows.
- Quality and quantity matter. Surprisingly, research has shown that more is more. Morton’s and Billboard tweet anywhere from 30 to 60 times a day. Dan Zarrella, author of “Science of Lead Generation,” shared that unsubscribe rates are higher for campaigns that email less frequently. Also, he explained that it is important to email on a customers’ schedule, not yours. Clickthroughs are highest with new subscribers. You need to be in constant contact with your consumers or you will be forgotten.
- Social trumps SEO. If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead. Sharing helps index content and contributes to the leveraging of organic search. Again, emphasizing that creating great, compelling, sharable content is essential. Also, when thinking about SEO, it is equally important to consider key phrases as well as keywords. Generation-C searches questions and phrases.
- B2Bs marketing should go mainstream. B2Bs can benefit from B2C best practices. In B2C scenarios, brands have suffered by ignoring the relationship building benefits of social and ignoring that they are dealing with people. In the B2B world, although in theory it is a business servicing another business, the transactions happen via people who are also consumers having social experiences. B2Bs should be thinking about great content and great visuals too.
- Repurpose and then repurpose again. LinkedIn’s Jason Miller, noted the importance of repurposing content. He identified B2Bs as having enormous potential to create valuable content through repurposing. B2Bs generally have tons of “pre-loved” content available. This content is prime material to be reimagined into blogs, slide presentations, infographics, webinars, videos and more!
Whether it’s pre-loved or fresh, in the end you have to find a way to make the love connections just to give your content a pulse. If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.
This post was contributed by Erika Couric, Assistant Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency.
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Social media has become an important tool for many businesses across the United States. About 87 percent of B2B companies are actively using social media for marketing purposes, and more than 50 percent are looking to increase their social media content in the next year. To reach their goals, businesses need to have a strong strategy tied to objectives when approaching each social media platform.
One of the most popular tools companies use for social media interaction is Twitter. Eighty percent of B2B marketers use Twitter, making it the second most popular platform used, right behind LinkedIn. Many people find there are two main challenges with Twitter. The first being Twitter’s 140-character limit; and the second finding ways to get more engagement on Twitter. To make your job easier, we put together a list of 10 tips to help you get the most out of your tweets.
- It’s OK to abbreviate – If you use Twitter you know that it is sometimes necessary to shorten words, to use numbers instead of spelling things out, and to use symbols where possible. Using “&” instead of “and” or typing “w/” instead of “with” is sometimes a must. It doesn’t obey proper grammar or AP style, but Twitter plays by a different set of rules.
- Always shorten links – Conserving characters is key. Using a site like bit.ly allows you to make a long website address much shorter. Inserting links can be very useful for driving traffic to your own content, or for sharing something interesting. Links invite the audience to interact with your tweet and possibly retweet.
- Use #hashtags – The goal of social media marketing is to have your audience interact with your brand. It’s easier to cast a wider net by using hashtags. Twitter users can search the site by hashtags, and if you tweeted recently with the hashtag they searched, they are more likely to find your tweet. Check to see what hashtags are trending and you may be able to get in on a popular conversation topic by using the right hashtag. It’s #important to #remember not to #overload the #user with too many #hashtags; they can be #distracting.
- Mention other @users – Interacting directly with users is a great way to utilize 140 characters. If your message is short enough, leave room to give a shout to a follower or someone you follow. Mentioning another user will appear on their Twitter feed, increasing the chances of engagement. Starting conversations with the @ symbol is the “social” part of social media.
- Ask questions – One of the best ways to encourage your audience to interact with you is by posing questions. It can be something simple like “Who else has plans for the upcoming holiday?” It can also relate to your business: “Would your company ever make this drastic decision?” Leaving the questions vague in that way helps build intrigue. Then, a curious follower will feel inclined to answer your question by mentioning you in a reply!
- Ask for retweets and do the same – Retweets are the most useful way to interact because not only is someone finding your content interesting enough to recycle from their own account, your tweet and your brand are now being exposed to their entire list of followers, thus growing your social media web. Asking for retweets is like an invitation for your followers to interact with your company. For example, “RT (retweet) with your favorite social media platform!” And be sure to RT tweets you find interesting as well. This will encourage others to do the same for you.
- Add pictures – Visual content drives engagement. Including a picture increases your tweet’s “clickability.” People are more inclined to click on a link that promises a visual. Even if other users do not interact with your company by retweeting or mentioning your post, the information and your brand are still getting noticed.
- Tweet at the right time – Peak times when your audience is on Twitter vary. It is important to keep an eye on what times of day work best to tweet. Considering the limited amount of information you can put out there, and the fact that there is no control over if your audience will notice it at all, timing out your tweets properly gives you an advantage in reaching your audience. You can also use different social media tools to track when key users and followers are tweeting. With the ability to monitor their activity over time, you can build a window of optimal tweet times every day.
- Tweet more often – Tweeting multiple times is better than tweeting sporadically – it is important to be consistent in your strategy. First, tweeting more often is a way of getting more of your content out. It increases the likelihood of engaging with your audience as well as the odds that more people will see your tweets on their home feed. Tweeting more than once a day shows that you are an active Twitter user and that your company has content to communicate on a daily basis.
- Use analytics – There are many websites available that companies can use to track their Twitter experience. Getting the most out of your tweets means using these sites as a tool to understand how social media is working for you. It is easier with these analytics tools to track numbers, statistics, users and trends. Staying on top of social media will require keeping an eye on your followers, mentions and engagement.
Social media is an exciting world of interaction that has changed the way business, marketing, advertising and news are handled. Using Twitter is a great way for B2B companies to keep in touch with their key audiences. Twitter is also the perfect landscape for introducing new content, reposting other’s content and discussing it with a wide community that shares your company’s interests. Getting noticed amidst all of the companies striving for attention is not easy. It takes a well thought out strategy to guarantee you get the most out of 140 characters.
This blog was contributed by Ryan Sabatini, Account Coordinator at Clearpoint Agency.
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With school out and recent grads being on the hunt for jobs, we decided that it would be a great time to give new professionals tips on nailing an interview and succeeding at it. We’ve recently been conducting interviews for our summer internship position, and what we thought were common-sense standards were simply common mistakes. Here are 10 tips to remember for your next application and interview.
- Write a killer cover letter – by that I mean a personalized email to the company you are applying at. Look at their website, and find the right person to address your email to. If you’re unsure, LinkedIn can be a great source of information.
- Keep the subject line of your email simple – don’t get too creative. If you opt for anything like “super important” or “urgent” you risk that your email could pass for spam and might be rejected.
- Arrive on time at your interview – five to 10 minutes early is acceptable, but don’t go too early. Often PR practitioners have hectic days, and their time is planned by the minute. If you arrive too early, the interviewer might feel pressured to see you sooner. Arriving late for an interview can create a bad first impression, so plan wisely and leave on time.
- Be well-prepared – research the company and its work/clients in advance. Often you may not need to discuss that, but sometimes an interviewer can ask you which of the company’s clients you found most interesting or what are some publications you noticed the company received coverage in. These are just examples, but it’s always best to be well prepared.
- Ask thoughtful questions – if you’ve done research ahead of time, you will easily come up with questions at the interview. If not, some common ones are description of the position and duties, company policies, culture and so on. You might also ask what an ideal candidate is to them. This will tell you what hard and soft skills the firm values.
- Know your resume well and the samples you have provided. Be ready to go into a deeper discussion about your previous work, team projects, challenges and so on. This also shows how prepared you are – if you present examples in your portfolio you can’t talk about, it will make the interviewer doubtful whether you were even part of that particular project.
- Highlight your strengths and think of concrete examples – just in case you are asked to elaborate. Situational questions are very common at interviews, and this would be your chance to impress the interviewer by choosing relevant examples that show how you handle challenges well.
- Dress professionally – club wear excluded! If you’re not sure whether your outfit is appropriate, it probably isn’t. I recommend to wear something conservative rather than casual. Usually by looking at a company’s website you can get a good feel of their culture, but still avoid jeans and short dresses or distracting items such as big jewelry and bright make-up.
- Set aside enough time for the interview. In the PR world, interviews sometimes start with written assignments on the spot that can last for about 30 minutes to an hour. Make sure your calendar is clear for that day, so that you don’t feel rushed or stressed out.
- Send hand-written ‘thank you’ notes – this way you will set yourself apart from other candidates. It might not guarantee you getting the job, but if you were one of the top interviewees, it will increase your chances.
This post was contributed by Antonia Genov, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency
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At Clearpoint Agency we think daily about writing press releases that not only convey the news, but communicate what our clients and products are all about. The press release is critical to the entire PR program because it serves as the hub for so many forms of communications – emails to clients, social media, blog topics, website content and more.
Here are 10 tips we recommend if you want to write and distribute press releases that are exceptional!
1. Write a clear and compelling headline – no more than 22 words
Always put the company or product name in the headline. If you are using a newswire service (which we recommend you do – see tip #9) they will require that you identify the company or brand in the headline as well.
Make the headline interesting – search the web for ideas on how others have announced a new client, product or version. Use your research to make your headline straightforward and interesting to your target audiences.
2. Optimize your headline
Search engines rely heavily on page titles when determining rankings. Your press release’s headline is probably the single most important factor in press release optimization. Search engines don’t understand a play on words, so your headline should be straightforward and use the same language someone would use to search. Make sure you include your most important keywords/phrases. To be indexed in Google News, your headline should be between 2 and 22 words. Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) often limit titles displayed to about 67 characters, so your most important news should be in the first 67 letters and spaces of your headline.
3. Don’t forget a subheadline
The subheadline is another opportunity for you to tell the audience how important your news is or highlight benefits to key audiences. Just try not to repeat words from the headline or communicate the same exact concept in the subheadline. Give it some thought.
The subheadline can also help with SEO. While the subheadline will not be included in the title tag and therefore has a less significant role in press release SEO, its early placement in the body of the release makes it a great place to incorporate additional keywords not included in your (less than 22-word) headline.
4. The lead is important
When writing the lead paragraph remember the inverted pyramid, which calls for most of the facts of a press release be contained at the beginning. The lead paragraph succinctly includes the who, what, when, where and how of the story. If the reader were only to read the lead of a good press release, they would have a clear idea of your news. You can expound on the details in subsequent paragraphs of the press release.
5. Link early in your release
Hyperlinks are critical to SEO and press release optimization. Links help search engines associate the content of a release to other sites, which helps the release’s ranking. As with using keywords, linking is most effective in the first few paragraphs, where search engine spiders focus the most.
6. Avoid clichés like the plague (pun intended)
Basically a cliché is something that has become too familiar, overly used or commonplace. The use of common expressions instead of more creative, compelling phrases to communicate an idea is the true mark of an amateur writer.
7. Don’t use weak quotes
Really no quote should start with “We are so (fill in the blank with pleased, excited, honored, etc.) Get creative and maximize the power of the quote. Use quotes to inject opinion and color into the press release. Include a benefit statement or address the pain that the audience is experiencing and how the news solves the challenge. Quotes are valuable real estate – don’t waste the opportunity. You don’t want the CEO or other executives to seem as if they are going on and on. Keep it tight and conversational. Also, here’s your chance to be promotional and insert some of the company’s key messages and/or services.
8. Add rich media to your releases
Readers love to see links to videos and images so they can learn more about your company and product. Google and the other major search engines love content with rich media (images, video and audio) too. Optimize your images by ensuring they have clear file names that describe the image and even incorporate a keyword (“ProductName.jpg” rather than a file name “Image_1234_v1.jpg”). Include a descriptive caption for any multimedia asset you distribute. Don’t forget to include your logo with your release (some wire services charge extra for this), as it is the image most likely to come up if someone searches directly for your brand name.
9. Use a newswire service if you can afford it
The newswire service will distribute your news to third-party sites, which is very good for SEO, and typically distributes to news rooms and bloggers across the country (depending on the wire and circuits you choose). And an added bonus: the editors at the newswires who review the press releases before they are distributed over the wire are typically very good at catching mistakes and typos!
Also email your press release to key media contacts along with a CUSTOM pitch that tells them why the news is so important. Don’t “spam” editors, journalist and bloggers with emails that start with “Dear editor.” Instead personalize your note to them and offer a little information they might not get from the press release alone. Here’s another hint: read a few of the journalists’ articles before you contact them to be sure they would even be interested in the topic of your announcement.
Email the press release to your staff, customers, partners and investors. It’s astounding how often we think of getting news out to complete strangers before the people who care the most about the news.
10. Hire a PR firm if you don’t have the capability – it’s worth it!
If you are uncertain of your press release writing capabilities or simply unsure what the news angle should be (that’s a hint that it should contain an angle) then hire a PR firm to assist. The good firms will ask you a lot of questions, and do their homework before they start developing press releases for you. And it’s worth it. PR is more than a press release or getting pickup of your announcements – it’s a long term strategy that will raise your visibility and strengthen your credibility, with the press release as the core.
This post was contributed by Bonnie Shaw, Clearpoint Agency President
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Every year since 1970, we celebrate Earth Day on April 22. On this day many events are held all over the world to acknowledge and demonstrate support for environmental protection. In fact, some regions celebrate Earth Week where various activities create awareness of environmental issues and solutions.
At Clearpoint we care deeply about the environment, not only on Earth Day, but all year long! Here are 10 ways you can join us and work to keep the earth green.
1. Follow the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – a national organization that works to be the earth’s best defense. This non-profit collaborates with businesses, elected leaders, and community groups on the biggest issues our environment faces today. Check them out to see how you can get involved.
2. Consider team building outings such as beach cleanups or lagoon/lake restoration projects that need volunteers. Every year since 2008 we have participated in a Kayak Cleanup Day, an annual volunteer activity at the Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad where we support wetland preservation by cleaning the lagoon from harmful trash.
3. Contribute to national and local non-profits and projects that are working to keep our environment clean. Our support for protected waterways doesn’t end with kayak cleanups. We have also donated time and PR services to the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy located in Encinitas.
4. Go green at the office too! We strive to have an eco-friendly office. From recycling to purchasing green office supplies, we want to make sure we use our purchasing power to contribute to environmental protection.
5. Turn off your computer for the night. This will help you save more energy versus putting it on sleep mode.
6. Opt for energy-efficient lighting like fluorescent or LED bulbs. Also, don’t forget to turn off the lights when you are not in your office, even if you go to a quick meeting. It’s the little things that matter.
7. Here comes a big one – use paper sparingly. How many times do you print hard copies of documents you need to recycle later? Think twice, and if you don’t need to really print it, access the document from an electronic device.
8. Consider incorporating a work-from-home day. It is good for the environment and it will save you time and money too.
9. If you’re ready to upgrade your technology and invest in new electronic products, see how you can recycle your old ones. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can help you find various options to donate or recycle electronics.
10. For information on various activities around the globe and how to get involved, visit the Earth Day Network.
What are you doing in honor of Earth Day or Earth Week? Leave a comment and let us know. We would love to hear from you.
This post was contributed by Antonia Genov, Account Coordinator at Clearpoint Agency
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