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The Post below was originally published by Cision PR Web

Customers are searching for a solution to their problems. But do they even know your brand exists?

The key to being discovered lies in effective communication. Your brand must explain what it is doing and how that will impact your target audience. This information must be easy to find, understand and share with others.

Enter the press release. This traditional PR tool is often underestimated and overlooked as an asset to build your brand’s reputation. When done right, press releases can build a larger brand following, convert leads to sales and help you gain more media coverage. Press releases also help increase your discoverability, rank higher with search engines and boost web traffic.

 

Here are 11 tips to help you amplify your press release strategy for maximum exposure:

1. Lead With The Right Hook

First thing’s first. Your press release needs to be newsworthy. To pass this test, ask yourself a few questions. What is new or different about your brand? Will this interest anyone outside of your business? Why should anyone care?

If you can answer all three questions, begin to outline your news in a few sentences. You will want to lead with the most important information. Brevity is key in a world where attention spans are shorter than eight seconds.

 

2. Perfect Your Headline

Use your headline as an elevator pitch. Think back to why anyone should care about your news to determine how to give readers a reason to click.

“Your headline should offer enough information to understand what the announcement is about without giving away too much so that readers will want to read more,” says Kimberly Brazell, Editorial Manager at PRWeb.

If your press release distribution service includes a sub header option, use that space to add context to the main message.

 

3. Add Insight from Credible Sources

Associate your news with the expert or leader directly involved in your news announcement. Ask for their opinions on the matter in a few short quotes.

“Expert quotes add insight and credibility to your press release and help readers relate to your news on a personal level. Think of them as a recommendation from a friend, a face and a name you can put to the advice,” says Brazell.

Be conscientious of what you include though. Avoid jargon or technical language. Insights should reiterate the reasons why your news matters, not add unnecessary fluff and bury your lead.

 

4. Attract More Eyes With Visuals

With so much content coming from all directions, your audience can feel overwhelmed by another piece of text-heavy content. To increase your brand’s impact, include high quality and relevant visuals and/or videos in your press release.

For example, if your brand wants to promote an upcoming conference, include photos of who will be speaking along with information on what they’ll discuss. Or, perhaps your brand just appointed a new CEO and wants to spread the word. Include a video to introduce him to the public and highlight his vision so readers have a sense of how they’ll be affected by the news.

 

5. Optimize for Search Engines

Google has penalized the black hat techniques some brands use to garner the attention they desperately want. Keyword stuffing, excessive links and low-quality content is easily spotted and should be avoided. Starting with high quality, natural language content is critical, which means keywords should not be included in every single sentence.

Instead, research which words or phrases your target audience is already looking for and use those to direct but not lead your copy. Include one link per 100 words to drive traffic back to your brand’s website without looking overly promotional, and don’t forget tracking codes.

6. Provide Detailed Direction

The only way to prove results is to first know the goal you want to accomplish with your press release. Once readers get past your first paragraph, they’ll know what’s happening with your brand. But how do you want them to get involved?

“Think about what action you want your readers to take after reading your release. You need to make that next step abundantly clear to your audience, because they won’t be going that extra mile without some sort of direction from you,” says Brazell.

Whether you want someone to attend an event, buy a product or download your owned content, make your call to action clear and easy to follow.

 

7. Make Contact Easy

One very simply way to increase your chances of earned media is to include contact information in your press release. If your headline hooked a journalist, they will want to find out more information before they include you in a story. Make it easy for journalists to reach out with questions.

Include the contact’s social channels, email address and phone number so that readers have options. Always include a direct phone line. The automated prompt systems often associated with 1-800 numbers will quickly turn off interested journalists.

Also verify that the team member whose contact information you share is readily available to respond to the media and aware of all details of your brand’s announcement, so your brand can quickly take advantage of earned media opportunities.

 

8. Promote Across Multiple Channels

To successfully reap all of the benefits you seek from press releases, you must set attainable goals. Whether you want to drive leads, increase social shares or earn more media, promotion plays a big role in getting to those ideal results. Every time you create a press release, use as many channels as possible to announce your news and link back to your press release.

Coordinate with the team members who head your social channels, blog, emails and internal communication to ensure everyone has the right messaging and is spreading the news at the right time. Multichannel promotion will allow you to reach your audience wherever they may be which is key in such a fast-paced, digital-focused world.

 

9. Pitch To The Right People

According to Cision’s State of the Media 2016 Report, 93 percent of journalists still prefer to be pitched by email. But simply copying and pasting a press release and hitting forward to all will not put you in good standing.

Before approaching the media about your news, turn to your media database to verify that each journalist you target covers the same beat or industry, works in a relevant geographical location and/or works for an outlet that aligns with your brand.

 

10. Measure Beyond Basic Metrics

While media pickup is a major goal of any brand, it should not be the only metric measured when you distribute a press release. Look at audience engagement levels, sentiment and conversions as well.

Track the value of individual press releases in real time as well as over time. Group the data together by type of news announcement or time of year. Doing so will allow you to pinpoint which ones increase sales and have the most impact on audiences.

 

11. Use Results to Reap Future Benefits

Pay close attention to hills and valleys in your numbers. Examples of what to focus on include the topic or type of news announced, distribution time and day, multimedia type and link placement.

Once you’ve combed through the data, set up A/B tests to optimize future results. For example, if you’ve noticed higher engagement rates for the last four press releases that were sent in the afternoon, you might want to consider shifting distribution to that time moving forward.

Remember, don’t stop testing once you’ve updated one part of your press release strategy. Reevaluate your tactics and the tools used to spread your story to gain an edge on competitors and boost your brand’s discoverability.

Discoverability isn’t automatic. Your brand must work hard to be found and that starts with how you craft, distribute and track your press release.