In an age of direct to fan marketing, social networking and google searches, is the traditional press release relevant today?
In a word, yes. Even though the public relations industry has changed, the press release still plays an important role in the publicity process. However, the elements of a successful press release have definitely evolved. Here’s an overview on how to maximize yours in our new media market.
Consider Your Key Words
If you were to Google yourself today, what search words would you use? Before drafting your next release, you must ask yourself this question, because it will identify which key words you must include. Utilizing key words in your press release increases your search engine optimization, making you more “discoverable” to fans and media online.
It is particularly important to use key words in your title, subtitle and first paragraph, as these are the areas that web crawlers pick up first. You should also include two or three relevant hashtags (possibly in the notes to the editor section) in order to encourage journalists to feature you in larger conversations, like one about your local music scene (#DCMusic, e.g.). Many bloggers will tweet links to their album/EP reviews so it’s important to make sure they have information about relevant hashtags (and twitter handles!). Doing so only increases your viral potential.
Include Media-Rich Content and Hyperlinks
Think of your press release more like a social media release. Rather than just informative text, your press releases should always include hyperlinks to things like audio samples (i.e. SoundCloud), video footage (i.e. YouTube), downloadable photos (i.e. dropbox) and links to your social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc). If journalists can access all of this information about you from a single page, you are on the right track. If you’re curious about social media releases, a service like PitchEngine is a great place to start.
Make It Visual
A visually striking one pager will always catch the eye of a journalist more than text alone. I thoroughly recommend including a photo of your album/EP cover on the press release because it acts as a visual reminder of the subject. This will come in handy should the release ever get separated from the physical product. As always, make sure your branding is consistent with your overall brand identity, and ensure a good balance between visuals and text.
Have An Electronic Version Available
You should always have an electronic version of your press release available as well as a PDF and plain text version. This gives you the flexibility to target your press release distribution according to the delivery preferences of journalists. Some journalists still prefer to receive press releases in the mail with finished product; others are happy to receive emails with links and files attached. Do your research and act accordingly.
Keep It Concise
One aspect of a press release that has not changed is its ideal length. You should always keep it short and concise. Your press release’s title and first paragraph are its most important sections. They will determine whether journalists will read on. All of its most relevant information – the Who, What, Where, When and Why – must be included in the first paragraph. Also include your “perfect pitch,” or a description of yourself and your key achievements. Keep it factual but fun!
Don’t Rely On It!
Once your release is written, don’t rely on it as your only promotional tool. Releases should be seen as useful additions to an aggressive marketing campaign, comprehensive direct-to-fan communications, and consistent face-to-face networking. You should never mass distribute your press release either. Always take a targeted, personalized approach to your PR activities.
Remember, press releases won’t do the work for you.