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TODD SMITH — Create compelling news releases for the digital age

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

The fall news cycle is full of stories that are competing for reader attention and clicks. Politics, weather systems, football scores, terrorism, quarterly earnings reports, and the latest entertainment buzz – your news is competing against all of the content on the Internet, not just your competition’s news or other news in your industry.

How can your story rise above the noise and hits the right audiences when there’s so much competition for attention?

Although different types of news releases have different needs, they all have one thing in common. They must be engaging.

If you want your news release to be discovered – by search engines, journalists, customers or investors – your entire strategy process must be focused on engaging your audience.

On their own, an eye-catching photo, interesting headline or robust distribution won’t likely save a news release carelessly planned and executed in other ways. From beginning to end, you must be thorough, consistent and compelling.

The following four steps – according to Beyond PR – jumpstart pithy news releases that cut through the clutter and make a lasting impression.

1. Identify how your news release fits your audience’s big picture.

Your audience isn’t a nameless, faceless crowd. They are customers, writers, and analysts. What are they buying? What are they sharing? What are they writing about? Use this insight to serve up news releases that meet these needs.

Understanding your target audience will also help you identify the best way to reach them. Determining the right distribution method – whether that’s a broad, general interest newsline or a more targeted, niche option – Is going to get your news in front of the people who will care about it most. Your news release will have a built-in audience if you identify key players who will take your release to that next step by sharing it, writing about it, or acting on it. That means better search results and better discoverability.

2. Identify the story that will resonate the most with your audience.

Sensational clickbait aside (“This woman saw a kitten on the side of the road. You won’t believe what happened next!”), your release should present key information that answers the “so what?” for journalists and gives customers something to sink their teeth into.

There will likely be multiple ways to answer your news release’s “so what?” however, you need to pick the one that will resonate the most. The best story is the one that not only piques your audience’s interest, but also keeps them reading and drives them to take action.

This engagement is essential to your news release’s discoverability because when audiences engage with content, it signals to search engines that the story is high quality. What that means for your news release is the right set of eyeballs on your content and higher placement in SERP.

3. Identify the visuals and content assets that will take your audience deeper.

Think about your own content consumption habits. Which story are you most likely to click on: The one with the picture or the one without?

Images and other visuals are known to increase views online and give you extra mileage with traditional news media. It’s no secret anymore that they’re important to catching and keeping a reader’s attention.

However, in addition to photos, graphics and video, consider whether you have any other content assets such as research reports, product demos, or white papers that complement the news release, demonstrate your authority, and propel audiences to explore your brand’s story further.

4. Identify the format that’s easiest for your audience to digest.

Once you know what parts will make up the news release’s whole, you have to turn your attention to how it’s going to be packaged. Consider the following best practices when formatting your content:

» Keep your headlines concise, but informative. Google displays the first 65 characters (include spaces). Get the most important information up front.

» Use a good subheadline to expand and provide additional context. Search engines pull in a subheadline, too. Take advantage of this by giving readers a reason to click.

» Include a key call to action early on in the release and use a full link as opposed to anchor text.

» Make it easy to digest with skimmable bullets and quotes.

» Optimize your text and visuals so that they’re easy to share, tweet, pin, etc. Include a click-to-tweet link and create graphics that are tailored to social networks that you can repurpose in your owned channels.

The final piece in the news release puzzle is to measure the success of the different tactics you try. While these tips are all proven best practices, some may work better than others with your target audience.

Review and compare how different types of multimedia, formatting, and story angles performed against others. You’ll likely identify areas of opportunity you can adjust in future communications.

Download the Beyond PR white paper Avoid the Numbers Trap to learn how to find the meaning in your reports. When you continuously tailor your strategy to your analytics, you’ll get a lot more for your budget and your ROI.

You can also check out the companion SlideShare for more tips on creating news releases that rise above the noise of the 24-hour news cycle.

10 SEO Stats Every Brand Should Target

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ever-changing industry. What’s hot and relevant one month might not be the next. Business owners and marketers need to stay current on trends in SEO if they want to be at the top of their game. One of the best ways to stay informed is to track (and learn from) key statistics. The Spin Cycle rounded up some of the best SEO statistics to help you form your ongoing strategy.

These stats are sourced from various studies found around the web, all of which provide unique ways to hone your SEO skills. – See more at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/10-seo-statistics-every-marketer-should-know-about#sthash.u39UNnB5.dpuf

1. 50 percent of search queries are four words or longer.

2. 57 percent of B2B marketers say SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation.

3. Search is the starting point for 60 percent of travelers.

4. 81 percent of B2B purchase cycles start with web search, and 90 percent of buyers say when they are ready to buy, “they’ll find you.”

5. Search is the No. 1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300 percent.

6. 60 percent of all organic clicks go to the organic top 3 search results.

7. Local searches lead 50 percent of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day.

8. 66 percent of best-in-class companies involve search in their content creation process from the beginning.

9. Companies that blog have 434 percent more indexed pages than those that do not.

10. Wikipedia links show up on the first page of Google on over 60 percent of search queries.

Golden Mic | Fox Business Presidential Debate Shines In Wake of CNBC Debacle

The Fox Business Network’s first-ever Republican presidential debate was a rousing success, with the moderators earning rave reviews compared with their colleagues on CNBC, who were considered to have bungled their October debate. According to CNN’s media reporters, social media and the candidates themselves praised moderators Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, and Gerard Baker as “terrific” and “great,” and expressed gratitude that the event focused largely on economic policy rather than interpersonal squabbles. Following the debate, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the channel had set “the model going forward.”

The debate brought in a total of 13.5 million viewers in prime time for the Fox Business Network, shattering previous records for the cable channel, which was created eight years ago as a financial sister to Fox News. Fox Business steps up to a Golden Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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