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April 16, 2010
Optimizing Press Releases for the Web

Preparing a press release for display on the Web is an art form in itself. It's known as optimizing a press release for Web circulation. Properly done, an optimized press release can be as effective as a Web page in gaining attention and SEO rankings. 

Many of you already know that. You may not be fully mindful, though, of what the market expects in optimizing releases. Michelle M. Wiemandy, director of marketing for Southeast Media, provides such an overview in the current issue of Website Magazine.

Paying too much attention to keywords, or not having all the right keywords, can make an online release stilted and a turnoff. But producing a good Web release is still a technical process, Wiemandy advises.

"Optimization techniques include adding technical elements to your website and seasoning the copy with keywords," she said. "Including photos and other graphical elements not only creates interest but also grows traffic when using captions and naming pictures in a keyword-friendly convention."

"In addition, adding keywords to anchor text links, along with embedding audio and/or video features in releases is helpful."

Like other many other PR skills, optimization is something most of us can do, once we get the hang of it. For the first few times around, it's best to have seasoned assistance. Also, to sense what the competition might be, Wiemandy quotes Joan Stewart, president of The Publicity Hound, on questions asked of optimizers:

  • Does your price include keyword research?
  • What is the fee for writing, and is there a separate fee for online distribution?
  • Is there an additional fee for sending the release to targeted media outlets and bloggers?
  • How many revisions does the price include?
  • What’s your turnaround time?
  • What clients have hired you to write press releases and what are their phone numbers?
  • Can you tell me about success stories those clients have had as a result of releases you wrote for them? (If they tell you, call those clients yourself and ask for a reference.)
  • Were they satisfied with the release? If not, why not? If yes, what happened as a result of the release?
  • What is the fee? (Most reliable services charge $150 and higher for writing a press release.)

All in all, a useful positioning piece for a key PR skill for these Web-centric times. 


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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