As more businesses favor social media channels for timely business communications, you may think press releases have become outdated or old-fashioned. You might even ask yourself, "Do we even need press releases anymore?"
The answer is an unequivocal "Yes."
Consumers and journalists still view press releases as one of the most trustworthy sources of brand-related information.
What's more, consistently distributing press releases to the right media outlets allows healthcare organizations to build credibility with journalists and patients.
Businesses that leverage social media to promote their press releases further boost traffic to their website, build search engine traffic, and increase public relations activity (e.g. radio and television interviews or quotes in newspapers and other publications).
In this blog post, you’ll learn:
A press release is a quick and easy tool for generating publicity about a newsworthy event or topic in the most objective way possible.
It's also the most cost-effective form of advertising—press releases sent with local distribution via HealthcareDive start at $279.
"The purpose of distributing an official press release is to reach thousands of publications at once so that one or more media outlets will pick up your newsworthy topic and write about it," says Melanie Saxe, Director of Content at Healthcare Success.
“Since it’s written in the style of a news article, press releases are easy wins for journalists looking for a quick way to turn around an article.”
There are many benefits of publishing press releases. They are remarkably effective tools for controlling the narrative during a crisis or public health event. They halt speculation, build trust, and establish a central source of accurate information.
Additional benefits of writing and distributing newsworthy press releases include:
"From a marketing perspective, it's valuable content that can be repurposed and shared in various ways to boost brand awareness and generate demand for your healthcare services or products,” says Melanie.
Learning how to write an effective press release increases your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, all three of which are quality metrics important for Google SERPs (search engine results pages).
A press release is a great tool to leverage when you want to reveal something new or newsworthy.
Newsworthiness means a topic captures the attention of both media publications and your target audience. This typically involves timely, relevant, or impactful information or events that directly affect people in our local community or region.
If you have an update, announcement, or message, it's crucial to ensure it's interesting enough to engage your audience.
To get started, Melanie recommends communicating with your marketing or community relations department to promote internally and across social channels to maximize exposure.
Next, always make sure you get administrative support and approval before submitting the press release.
Once you have a topic that’s worthy to write about, it’s time to write the press release.
“A press release is one of those content pieces with a strict format,” says Melanie. “There’s only one right way to write a press release.”
Let's walk through a press release template, so you're prepared to promote newsworthy topics, tie them to trending news topics, increase brand awareness, and drive more targeted traffic to your website.
Here is a step-by-step guide for writing a press release:
Capture your audience’s attention with an engaging headline that clearly states the topic. Stand out even more with compelling action verbs.
Before beginning any press release, identify the city, state, and date to help the reader identify its timeliness and relevance. This information is placed in parenthesis and followed immediately by the first paragraph, which should be to the point and communicate the newsworthy announcement.
The first paragraph is typically 1-2 sentences and answers who, what, when, where, why, and how (five "W's" and one "H"). It should be written as facts, focusing on why it's important, useful, or valuable to the audience. While not a hard and fast rule, answering these questions upfront allows the reader to fully understand your press release.
The second paragraph expands on the first paragraph, provides additional background information, acts as the foundation for the rest of the press release, and includes any five “W's” and one “H” not explained in the first paragraph.
The third and fourth (and beyond) paragraphs include additional and supporting information. The third paragraph is optimal placement for a doctor, executive, or internal stakeholder quote. If appropriate, add highlights or break down the details with bullet points in these paragraphs.
Include a summary in the final paragraph and a clear call-to-action (CTA). The CTA should identify the next steps the audience needs to take or where they can find more information.
This is the boilerplate "about us" content for your company. This section must always include your company contact information, so the media can reach your company quickly and easily for any follow-up questions.
With your topic and template ready, use the following best practices as a checklist to edit and fine-tune your press release.
1. Conduct competitive research. Review and emulate competitor press releases. Analyze and target the same (or similar) keywords.
2. Include keywords. Research relevant keywords and include them in your title, introduction, and throughout the content of your press release. Keywords are essential for getting your press release found by users and search engines.
3. Bold and hyperlink the first instance of SEO keywords. This will help boost your organic SEO rankings and gain clicks to relevant content.
4. Include relevant content within the first 250 words. Placing the most relevant content upfront helps search engine algorithms understand your press release, and humans understand and engage with your message.
5. Optimize link use. A press release is the same as a paid link in Google's eyes. Including certain types of links in press releases is considered spam. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
a. Do include one navigational link pointing to your website in your press release.
b. Do not include transactional links; instead, use clear attributes such as rel=" nofollow" or rel=" sponsored" to alert search engines they are not being used to support SEO.
6. Optimize visual elements. Include keywords in file names, captions, and alt text to help Google understand what your image is, how it relates to your press release content, and why it’s important.
Here are three tips for distributing, sharing, and repurposing your press release for maximum exposure:
Selecting the right distribution service is essential for maximizing your exposure, especially industry-specific content. Here are a few things to consider when shopping around. The distribution company should include:
Once you’ve submitted your press release to your selected distribution company, post a summary on your website, either in the news or media section on your site. This will support SEO efforts, drive more traffic to your website, improve domain authority, and increase brand recognition.
If your social media followers find your press release relevant and valuable, they will likely share it with friends, significantly and positively impacting website traffic. Likewise, sharing your press release to your list of patients, colleagues, and other community members via email keeps your hospital or organization top of mind and educates them about newsworthy events and topics. This strategy results in email forwarding to friends and family and driving new traffic to your website.
While there is always the option to write and distribute your newsworthy events and topics yourself, using a PR firm—especially if you are facing a crisis or want enduring coverage—can help maximize your exposure. However, it is important to note that few work on a one-off basis, and most require retainers.
I think it's also essential for healthcare brands to remember that members of the press are not your friends—and do not consider themselves your publicist. They don't necessarily care about your business; however, they care a great deal about sharing newsworthy stories. Maximize the shareability of your press release by publishing emotional, timely topics that journalists won't be able to ignore.
If you need help in this area, just ask us for a referral.
Now that you understand how to write an effective press release, let's talk about how to repurpose and share it effectively.
Blogging about your press release topic will also support SEO, driving more traffic to your website, improving domain authority, and increasing brand recognition.
Increase your brand's credibility and thought leadership by consistently distributing newsworthy press releases to industry-specific publications and major news outlets. Then leverage digital channels (e.g., social media, website, and email) to elevate your brand and messaging.
If you need help learning how to write an effective press release or choosing a press release distribution company, just ask us for a referral.