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Online Press Release

An online press release (OPR) is an effective method for a business to promote itself, gain brand recognition, and generate publicity. The benefits of OPRs include improved search engine optimization (SEO), increased web site traffic, and a higher number of online and offline product sales. Properly written and presented, an OPR can even draw the attention of journalists and be featured as a leading news story. Because the OPR is presented for public relations purposes and is therefore viewed as soft marketing, it is more cost-effective than traditional advertising. Likewise, when compared with advertising, the OPR builds better media rapport and credibility with the public. Because of this, the OPR is often used as a component of online reputation management.

In the past, press releases were presented in the format of physical press kits. These kits included one to three pages of a typewritten news statement, as well as brochures, photos, and other marketing collateral. With the advent of online marketing, three main types of OPRs have emerged: e-mail, online (Web), and social media (SM).

E-mail Press Release

OPRs presented via e-mail are shorter in length and more to the point than their printed or other online counterparts. On average, the e-mail press release spans 400 words that are separated into 4-5 paragraphs, each consisting of 2-3 sentences. This is because many subscribers' e-mail accounts limit the size of message downloads. Because of download restrictions, e-mail press releases also do not contain photography, white papers, company officer bios, or any other materials that would typically be found in a physical press kit. If such files do exist, then links are provided to them. This way, subscribers may access the additional materials at their leisure. E-mail press releases also include the company's contact information, including a phone number, so that subscribers may obtain materials offline.

E-mail press releases are typically sent to select consumers, bloggers, industry analysts, journalists, and reporters who have subscribed to the company's e-mail subscription service. This service is posted and advertised on the company's web site, and often on its SM profiles. Using the service's opt-in feature, individuals can sign up to receive company news that is targeted specifically to their interests and reporting needs.

One of the biggest benefits of the email press release is that the audience has a vested interest in receiving it. Journalists, who are often under publishing time constraints, appreciate receiving timely and relevant news content through e-mail because this saves them from conducting time-consuming Web searches. Reporters can use the e-mail press release as a launching point for a well-timed radio or television broadcast. Likewise, both journalists and reporters can easily obtain more information and reprint materials by contacting the company.

For the company, sending e-mail press releases boosts consumer traffic both online and offline. Web site visits increase, as do marketing material downloads. Reporters and journalists often submit the e-mailed content to newspapers as well as to radio and television broadcasts. Through such online and offline dissemination of information, the press release creates immense public awareness of the company and its products.

Online (Web) Press Release

The OPR that is published on the Web is not much longer than the e-mail press release, ranging from 400-500 words that are likewise divided into several smaller paragraphs of 2-3 sentences each. However, unlike the e-mail press release, the title and content written for a Web press release must be keyword and key phrase optimized. This ensures that the press release will attain SEO and a high ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) of sites like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.

Web press releases may also include multimedia such as photography, videos, and audio files. Documents such as white papers, research and statistics reports, and officer biographies are frequently provided.

Press releases published on the Web are typically located on the company's web site, although some companies choose to create a separate web site for all press releases. Instead of being e-mailed to numerous recipients, Web press releases are distributed through dedicated press release sites such as i-Newswire and PRlog. Different versions of the Web press release text may be offered for easy download and/or printing, such as through .doc and .pdf.

Press release sites are considered to be authority sites for many search engines, especially news search engines. When optimized for keywords and key phrases, a Web press release can rank highly on such news search engines sites as Google News, Yahoo! News, and Associated Press. This results in extensive publicity for the company, as well as increased Web traffic and site clicks. Additionally, Web users may create links to the press release content, increasing its online "weight" via higher page rank (PR). High PR sites retain a prominent position on the SERP and may be featured on top business news reporting sites such as BusinessWeek and Forbes.

Finally, Web press releases have the capacity for improving a company's online reputation. When designed with SEO in mind, press release sites typically displace negative listings about the company and/or its products. This helps showcase the business in a positive light.

Social Media Press Release

The most recent type of OPR is the social media press release. A chimera of e-mail and Web press releases, the SM press release utilizes key advantages of each of the aforementioned press releases to create a third and very unique advertising format.

Depending on where the SM press release is to be submitted, it may contain the standard 400-500 words of content separated into several paragraphs. However, the SM press release may also be submitted without any text, and instead contain a video, podcast, or audio file. This multimedia content is then followed by officer and/or analyst quotes, links to internal company files like white papers and research reports, and the boilerplate statement.

The key difference between the SM press release and the e-mail/Web press release is that the SM press release puts great emphasis on providing links to SM community sites such as Facebook, social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon and Digg, and blog search engines like Technorati. RSS feed buttons are also prominently displayed for those users who prefer having the press release notice delivered by e-mail.

An SM press release may be posted on the company's web site, but is preferentially published on an SM channel profile page. The publication of an SM press release allows Internet-savvy journalists and reporters, as well as bloggers, analysts, and consumers to access, read, and republish the contents of the press release. In this way, the press release becomes viral, spreading across various SM channels and also through e-mail. If voted for and/or commented on repeatedly, the press release can also rise in rank and be listed on the front page of SM web sites. This outcome may be achieved through social media optimization (SMO).

Additional advantages of the SM press release are SEO and improved online reputation. Press releases that are optimized for keywords and key phrases, and which are highly ranked on SM sites, will also probably rank highly in the SERP. They also are likely to be ranked highly on hybrid SM/search engines such as Twoogle (Twitter and Google). By receiving such high search rank (and inevitably high PR), these press releases also displace any web sites containing negative content about the company, leading to a better online reputation for the business.

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