Unlock the Power of the Press Release for the Digital Age

While changes in the way news is viewed, generated and distributed is evolving the way press releases are crafted, they still deserve a spot in your food marketing strategy. So stop asking yourself, “Is the press release dead?” Because in short, even with the evolving media landscape and endless information available at our fingertips, the answer is no.

According to Cision, a leading PR and media software company, 71% of journalists want news announcements and press releases from brands. But that’s not all. The Pew Research Center reports one in three Americans get their news online. This is opening the door even wider for PR content. Done well, press releases are a helpful tool for food-focused journalists. But, equally important, they are seen by your customers and peers, further driving brand interest and impacting other digital marketing metrics.

The press release you just distributed could land you the interview of your dreams with The New York Times food editor. Or it could drive organic traffic to your site, which you hopefully have set up to drive conversions. So before you begin your next draft, here are a few best practices to ensure you’re maximizing your inbound efforts.

How to Write Your Next Press Release

Be a good storyteller.

Your press release is an opportunity to share your food brand’s story with a larger, more diverse audience. Leave the jargon aside and write in a tone of voice that captures the interest of your customers. If you’re announcing a new product or line, include important information like product features and benefits, release dates, where to buy, MSRPs and any data supporting your brand’s value proposition. Remember, press releases are seen as news in search results. This categorization adds a layer of legitimacy to your brand and increasing credibility in the eyes of your potential customers.

Find your keyword balance.

From a digital marketing perspective, your press release is another opportunity for your food brand to bolster your search engine results page (SERP) position. To optimize your press release you’ll want to think about your short- and long-tail keywords and phrases when drafting. However, be sure you partner with your SEO team (or an SEO expert) to find ways to naturally incorporate them in a balanced way, in order to avoid keyword stuffing penalties from Google.

Quality images are a must.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words, making images in today’s digital marketplace vital. Studies show press releases including four to six images will generate an average of 2.4 times more views than text-only releases. So go beyond the brand logo. Have editorial-use only photos available to capture journalists’ attention. Also, if you have particularly strong images, consider holding a few aside for pitching exclusives. While somewhat controversial, an exclusive offers more in depth reporting in exchange for breaking news and/or unique assets.

Consider using a wire service.

A great press release is nothing without visibility. Strategic and timely distribution can triple your exposure. Hand distributing press releases to small groups is time consuming, but it can create a personalized feel. This may be important depending on the type of news you’re sharing. On the other hand, a distribution service like Business Wire is pricier, but they can access a broad spectrum of outlets quickly. Many of these outlets pick up releases and immediately post to their site, which means more backlinks for you. In a perfect world, you can leverage both methods. You can nurture key media relationships with one-on-one pitching, while using wire services to drive broad awareness with your customers and “fringe” media.

Syndicate on your owned channels.

Instead of using static press releases, make your news dynamic. Include links or embed your most important marketing materials, such as behind-the-scenes footage, product images or any other assets that help make your story more sharable. Then leverage your social media channels like Twitter to get more traction and visibility. One thing to consider is posting the press release on your own website via your blog. This offers an opportunity for your marketing team to point traffic directly to your site, which is set up for conversions, versus sharing another unrelated site.

Create press releases worth sharing.

Albeit a bit obvious, a recent Cision report confirmed that 90% of journalists use Google and Facebook in their research. While the humble yet effective press release still helps by providing inspiration and information, it’s important to remember its other role as shareable content. Crafting releases with this in mind not only helps secure media coverage, but through increased engagement, they ultimately contribute to improved page ranking. And as we all know, ranking matters when it comes to driving profits for your business.

There are definitely some marketers who consider press releases “old school.” Their misguided opinion may be your opportunity. A carefully written press release is still a powerful tool to garner attention in today’s increasingly saturated digital marketplace.

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Emily Nordee PR Director EvansHardy+Young
Emily Nordee-Rogers, PR Director

After earning degrees in both Nutritional Science and Viticulture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Emily spent several years working at top NYC communications agencies. Now she’s brought that big city energy and in-depth knowledge of food marketing to us, where she plays a leading role on the California Walnuts, Lamb Weston and Avocados From Peru PR business.