Press Release Success in a Post-Panda World

By on January 7, 2015

By and large, tips and advice regarding press releases don’t change very much from year to year. The daily news cycle, despite many advances in technology and sophistication, continues to rely primarily on the model wherein a reporter/blogger influences a dedicated readership.

Because of this, there’s no shortage of solid content promotion or press release guides floating around the Internet. I should know, I wrote a pretty good one myself.

Likewise, there’s also no shortage of advice out there about filling your releases with keywords so as to positively influence search results and place your content higher up in Google’s rankings. I should know, I’ve been railing against such advice for years.

But most sites aren’t to blame for this bad advice – nine times out of ten, they just have old articles/links floating around the net.

Well, here’s the skinny: PR has changed a ton over the past 18 months. Google’s Panda, Hummingbird, and other updates to their monster algorithm have guaranteed that content obviously intended to influence search engines (as opposed to human readers) will not only stay buried, but may actually wind up earning search penalties to boot – which is no good, it’s like being on McCarthy’s blacklist.

So what does that mean for entrepreneurs trying to promote their small business? And what does that mean for your next press release?


Back to Basics

Once upon a time, people wrote with one audience in mind: other people. And, likewise, press releases were written to influence one group of people in particular: journalists, reporters, and folks with a vested interest in influencing the public.

Which is exactly where Panda’s brought us once more – in a sense, PR’s come full circle.

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With all the sneaky Black Hat smoke-and-mirrors of SEO pretty much drawing its last breath, influencing the public, gaining authority, and getting the word out have come right back to how well you can turn heads with the content you produce. It’s not magic, and it’s not luck. It’s knowing the game, and knowing what makes people want to share your story with other people.

Indeed, Google isn’t out to destroy the venerable press release. Don’t believe me? Well just check out some of Google's recent press releases. That’s right – Google is still putting out their own press releases on a regular basis. And why’s that? Because they have their purpose.

Don’t assume Google is some big, bad dictator out to crush Mom n’ Pop enterprises. I wholeheartedly don't believe that they’re out to penalize folks who have legitimate businesses that wish to promote them in legitimate ways. They just want to make sure they are providing the average Internet user with the best content possible.

Where does that leave press releases? Well, I think Google wants to make sure they are being used for their original purpose—to get REAL news in the hands of REAL people that will share it with the general public. Reporters, bloggers—you know.

To be plain: If you write your release to influence journalists and actual human readers, not search engines, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

It's alright to focus your press release around a keyword, but aim for a variety of keywords in your vertical, and avoid over-use any one of them. This will simply help to ensure that your story sounds natural to the human ear. Stuffing your release near-bursting with a single keyword phrase over and over and over again is only going to draw negative attention from Google, and may earn you a penalty. Yikes.

In doubt? Read it aloud. If it sounds natural, then you should be gold. For more about keywords in your release, read my article here.


Four Little Words

Before you go shooting off press releases willy-nilly, however, consider this: is it news? Is what you’re writing about offering anything of value to the reader – insight, news, knowledge?

Insightful – Are you offering some insight or unique knowledge on a certain topic? Insightfulness is the mother of newsworthiness.

Credible – Is the content you’re issuing speaking well to your credibility? If you’re sending out a release for the sake of a release, then the answer is likely “No.”

Share-Worthy – (it counts as one word, it’s hyphenated!) Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If they were reading this release, would they want to hit the “share” button, putting it out over social media? If the answer is “No”, then consider rewriting.

Focused – Stay on topic and on point. If your headline talks about Valentine’s Day and you wind up linking to a Canadian pharmaceutical reseller, then consider rewriting. That link might look a just a little suspicious.

Look, at the end of the day avoiding the animus of Panda isn’t hard. So long as you’re writing to pique the interest of journalists, bloggers, and other influencers, and not string along a search engine spider, you’re golden.


Your best bet for crafting a catchy release? Try reading one of those ‘How to Write a Press Release’ guides. I recommend mine ☺

This article was written by Mickie E. Kennedy, founder of eReleases PR out of Baltimore, MD.

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Adam Toren

About Adam Toren

Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.