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Smarter PR Gets Results
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Ragan’s PR Daily has done it again with helpful content and advice for us flacks. Sarah Skerik, PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, recently authored a blogpost about how to make press releases “smarter.” It might also be of interest that she recently authored an e-book on “smart” press release tips titled New School Press Release Tactics (free download here).
Ms Skerik noted:There’s been a lot of recent attention paid to press releases and the links within them, which are the subject of new guidance from search giant Google. Fact is, most PR pros will see little if any impact on the results their news releases garner. The content and structure of press releases have a far greater influence on the visibility of the message, and as competition for attention increases, the formula for a successful press release is changing.”
In keeping with her statement, she offered a few tips on how to craft successful press releases. Some of what she suggests are almost no-brainers in this digital communications age, but are worth the retelling. The following is quoted from her blog:
Make social interaction a priority.
• Serve your audience first. Frame the brand message in the context the audience craves.
• Content must do more than inform. It has to be interesting and useful to your audience members if they’re going to share and amplify your message.
Rethink links. Use them strategically to provide more information for journalists and potential customers.
• Link the names of people quoted in the press release to their bios or related blog posts they’ve authored.
• Embed a call to action for potential customers toward the top of the press release. Real-world example: PR Newswire client Jive Software reported a 200 percent increase in website traffic to a specific page when they moved a call to action for readers toward the top of the press release, embedding it right after the lead paragraph.
• Encourage on-the-spot social sharing. Highlight the key message or best piece of advice in your press release, and then embed a Click-to-Tweet link within.
Format the press release to maximize sharing.
• Write a tweetable headline of 100 characters or fewer. (Use a deck head to add detail.)
• Employ bullet points to highlight key points and draw readers’ eyes deeper into the copy.
Develop a visual communications habit.
• Including visuals can increase visibility. (Social networks and search engines both give visual content preference.)
• Visuals extend the reach of your messages into channels like Pinterest, which requires a visual element and other visual-centric social networks.
Incorporate storytelling into press releases to make the messages more memorable and interesting.
• Include a quote from someone other than an executive. Quote a happy customer, a customer service person noting how a new product has reduced support calls, or a member of the team that designed the product.
• Break the formula for the press release, and dive into the value propositions, case studies, and benefits that your audience really wants to know about.
 (Note: Her blogpost garnered some comments, which are also worth reading. For the entire original article plus the readership comments, see here.)

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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