The press release has been around for 100 years now. In 1906 Ivy Lee, the father of modern PR, invented it for Pennsylvania Railroad, a client of his at the time.
In the Internet Age, this form of PR has taken a whole new twist, as it’s not just professional journalists who need this information, but also the multitude of bloggers and web writers. Hell, if you can catch a few of the Joe Public on the way too, then all the better: Over one billion internet users are not to be sniffed at.
Unfortunately though, there are now tons of articles floating around the World Wide Web extolling press releases as a form of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Lets get this clear: press releases are a part of public relations, not SEO. They are there to enable you to announce an important event or change to your business or organisation, not for the sole reason of accumulating backlinks. The reclassification of the press releases purpose has come about because of the number of free press release sites in existence. With one or two exceptions these are mostly low-quality affairs with no editorial policy. They accept anything and everything masquerading as a press release. Pushing these low quality free press release sites are a whole gaggle of wannabe “SEO gurus” who merely regurgitate what they have read elsewhere. For them, the only thing that is important is building incoming links: Links, links and more links is their mantra.
Don’t let these fools be your guide: let quality be your guiding light
A press release announces something. Put yourself in the shoes of a journalist or blogger when you write a press release. Is what you are writing about newsworthy? It doesn’t have to be something of international concern, but it does have to be something of note in your niche.
Most people today only write a press release for a backlink to their website. Consequently, their press release offers nothing of interest to the reporter or blogger. They are mostly just infomercials written in dull sales talk.
This is not to say that SEO must be completely severed from the online press release. If you are going to publish an item on a free press release distribution site make sure you carry out keyword research, but don’t let it be an all consuming passion. Also don’t go for the first press release site you cross your path with, but try to find the best press release distribution services available.
If you don’t have anything to announce then don’t write a press release. It’s a simple as that. Think of any links gained as a bonus, not its raison d’être.
It’s important to reclaim the press release because the internet is already full of spam. We don’t need any more, and most of what comes under the heading of press release in the net age is out-and-out spam. Internet users don’t need it or want it.
So lets get back to basics and write press releases for the press, not spam for the bin.