By Kaitlin Friedmann, Public Relations Manager, Creative Marketing Alliance
You’ve seen the reports—2010 is shaping up to potentially be the year where all marketing and public relations departments truly step up their Web 2.0 budgets. This means increased time and energy devoted to blog development, social media marketing and other user-generated content overall, and all together, a new way of thinking about integrated marketing.
With all of these exciting interactive communication developments happening at once, perhaps the topic on most business owners’ and executives’ minds is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is valuable to any promotional campaign because the very aim of this practice is to create awareness, raise interest and desire, and move a consumer to take action all in one place—the search engine.
In the public relations profession, SEO has been a major change agent. Gone are the PR strategies that ignore the power of online media and rely only on traditional print and broadcast outlets. More and more, digital communications are intersecting with PR departments’ plans, and for good reason. More people today, and not just the core Generation Y population, have migrated to online publications and blogs as their main source of information and news. A website URL doesn’t even have to be known letter by letter, word for word anymore—Google and other search engines have replaced our need to know such details.
Most SEO seekers’ main objective is to drive traffic to a specific website—now also a common goal for the PR professional, whose usual directive “get ink,” has been fully transitioned to an equal or greater desire for website hits. While Business Wire, Marketwire, PrimeNewswire, PR Newswire and PRWeb have been valuable tools for press release distribution for decades, (to both media and directly to the consumer) PR professionals need to utilize these services to their fullest extent by providing more optimized and tailored content to make their announcement stand out.
To increase the chances of an announcement reaching the individual it was intended for, a few simple practices can be integrated during the writing of the press release. After all, the Internet can be overwhelming if you don’t manipulate it to your advantage. Follow these steps and ensure that you’re not sending your press release off to get lost in the ether:
1) Make headlines – Your headline is still your first opportunity to make a good impression on your target audience. Craft a headline chock full of keywords that speak to your audience’s main concerns and greatly increase your chances of them moving on to learn more.
For example, for an optimized press release sent on behalf of a client who manufactures industrial-strength sanitizing products during the height of a widespread staph infection scare, our team brainstormed a couple of different ways to ensure the release would appear when concerned parents and infection control specialists searched for news. The following press release headline and sub-headline cut right to the chase and helped to raise awareness for the product. Over 38 million consumers were reached through this PR campaign.
SCHOOL OFFICIALS, HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS RELY ON
[client product] TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF MRSA
Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer and Disinfectant Line Provides Effective Defense Against “Superbug”
2) Drop your anchor – Using targeted words for anchor text that links back to specific pages of the company’s website, or to other useful pages such as a company blog, can determine the ranking that the page will receive by search engines. Make sure your linked text is relevant to the landing page and include your actual URL in as many appropriate areas as possible—not just the boilerplate.
In the above example, the body of the press release would effectively link words such as “disinfectant product line” to specific pages of the company website to increase the chances of the word “disinfectant” being linked to the company’s product name.
3) Use words from your customers’ mouths – In order to increase word of mouth among your target customers, wouldn’t it make sense to ask them what their needs are first? Compile a list of top search terms and key issues by putting in some extra time to survey your market or compile market research ahead of time. This will ensure you aren’t using misunderstood jargon or buzzwords they consider overused.
4) Do it yourself – Many online news outlets have areas where you can post press releases yourself. These areas offer an opportunity for you increase your SEO ranking by having your company or client’s name mentioned on websites other than your own.
A lot has changed about PR in the last five years, but one thing that will remain timeless is the value of good copywriting. A press release that is vague, too opinionated or just poorly written will get you nowhere—with or without SEO. By relying on your instincts and approaching SEO in an organized way, you can upgrade your PR approach and adapt appropriately without seeming like you’re rushing to jump on an SEO band wagon.
About the Author – Kaitlin Friedmann
Kaitlin Friedmann is the Public Relations Manager at CMA. She is responsible for all media strategy and communications, as well as the overall management of the public relations team. Her experience and success is diverse including media relations campaigns for political advocacy groups, children’s charities, museums and documentary filmmakers, as well as several non-profit associations, and business-to-business and consumer clients.
About Creative Marketing Alliance (CMA)
Based in Princeton Junction, NJ, Creative Marketing Alliance (CMA) provides integrated marketing programs, high-impact creative services and association and event management to produce measurable results on a regional, national and global scale. For 23 years, CMA has powered our clients’ success through strategic solutions including marketing, advertising, public relations, sales support, interactive digital communications, direct response and publications. Please visit www.cmasolutions.com or www.CMACentral.blogspot.com for more information on the company’s expertise and services.