Making the Most of the Press Release: Getting the Idea Viral

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A press release is one of the promotion methods that (almost) survived the web 2.0 evolution. The only thing that changed is the focus: while earlier the main aim of the press release was to get links from various news sites re-publishing one and the same content, today it is more about making the news viral.

If more people understand that, I am sure they will learn how to make the most of their press release: just give it more thought and you will see you link numbers sky-rocking.

I am not a professional press release writer and when I need a good news article written I’d rather turn to the copywriter. But I’ve dealt with quite a few press releases to constantly come across the 3 most common mistakes that are sure to doom the effort to failure:

No (“worthy”) news at all

I see no point in publishing a press release if you have nothing newsworthy to share. Sometimes people mistaken a press release for some advanced article distribution service and they promote their a no-news-at-all content at all:

Press release: no news

Press release: no news

Press release: no news

Good news-types topics (that should go viral) may include:

  • A new tool launched by the service;
  • A new serious move in the company taken (going green is a good idea which will be almost sure to generate you some solid links and awareness);
  • A new survey / research completed and made public;
  • A contest or awards event announced (“Top ten blogs” in a niche awards, for example);
  • A new book published or a new completely new product developed.

In other words, to make the news spread it should contain some useful, tightly targeted information that will make the readers want to republish it (I do not mean automatic scrapers here – they will come no matter what the press release is about; what I mean are real people who will respond to your news and promote it further).

Too much / Too little detail in the title

Like the web page title in general, the title of the press release is crucial for click-through, rankings and viral effect. Shockingly, most press releases I’ve seen lack a thoroughly thought-of title: it is either to long (removing the need to even click-through to learn more) or too general (which makes it sound too dry to encourage an action):

Too detailed:

press release - detailed

Too general:

press release - general
(Who is it actually about?)

Too much focus on the link building

Again, a press release is more about getting the idea viral than stuffing it with multiple links

Press release: links:

Now, please share your opinion:

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project,
Ann Smarty
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  • @steveplunkett

    Since I work @ PR firm… this wouild have been the one i wanted to check.

    (checkbox) I use press releases to disseminate pertinent information for my clients to major media outlets and high profile blogs. We do them as HTML and as a PDF and use the PDF to enhance some page segmentation values for SEO.

  • Jack

    All three points are valid. Press Releases are a great tool for PR, but only if they’re purposed correctly. However PR can’t stand alone – you also need a solid marketing campaign. Read more at

  • Jeannette

    ” Sometimes people mistaken a press release for some advanced article distribution service and they promote their a no-news-at-all content at all:” Your points are valid, but really–shouldn’t someone proof the articles you post?

    Also, I agree with Jack–Solid press release practices must be crafted in conjunction with a cohesive marketing strategy. Isn’t another mistake that people STILL use print press release copy for web releases–one size fits all?

  • ambushU

    I agree, the most important part of the press release is it’s ability to go viral. Back links is a plus but if your story doesn’t have legs, it won’t be worth the price…Thanks Ann!

  • Chicago Plumber

    We did a press release on our company about our launch, and had little success. Maybe we could have used one of you for distribution and writing…

  • Carter Edsall

    Timing certainly plays a role in all of this. Newsworthy items that are “timely” will often feed directly into the needs of journalists. We market a wine that sells big during the holidays. Food and wine publications/sites/blogs are predictably filling their pages with similar content at that time every year and need something fresh. We deliver a timely scoop for them and they help spread the word.

  • ABnCParty

    I guess I am in the minority. But when I see a search engine hit on a targeted market, I know press releases work.

  • Dan Grossman

    Alright, you listed a couple aspects of bad press releases. All of them sum up to “poor headline and too spammy”.

    Now where’s the part about making a press release go viral? The post doesn’t seem to match the title.

  • Kathleen Hanover

    @ChicagoPlumber said: “We did a press release on our company about our launch, and had little success. Maybe we could have used one of you for distribution and writing…”

    That may not have gone anywhere because (I’m sorry to be harsh) no one cares that you launched a company, outside of the people you hired and your immediate family. At most, the typical “We’re Open!” press release deserves a one-sentence mention in the local business section, and nothing more.

    A good PR consultant will help you find an angle that actually makes your business launch newsworthy (if there is one–there may not be, unfortunately.)

    FYI, “5,297th Plumbing Company Opens In Chicago” may not be newsworthy. “Local Plumbing Company Unblocks 100 Drains for Free to Celebrate Grand Opening” might have news value.

    Press releases (even fancy SEO press releases) do not have mystical powers. They can’t transform irrelevant-to-most-people non-news into news. They’re tactics that can be helpful in the execution of a specific promotional *strategy*.

  • Yollana

    I’m with Dan, this article would be more helpful to me if each of your points included an eg of what TO do as well as what NOT to do. Please let me know if you update it.
    .-= Yollana´s last blog ..Can Social Media have Soul? Introducing Twitter… =-.

  • Joel Gross

    How beneficial do you believe press releases are in a day where blogging and microblogging seem to rule? Which do you believe is best for SEO? How can these posts augment each other? Thank you in advance for your insights!

  • Ann Smarty

    @Dan, the short answer is: forget about link building and share exciting news – should work that way…
    .-= Ann Smarty´s last blog ..Great Headlines, Poor Rankings – Why Clever Headlines Don’t Beat Optimized Title Tags for SEO =-.