People sometimes forget that the press release is often the most viewed content piece of any organizational launch. Actively pushed to thousands of organizations and audiences, instantly accessible within search engines, this resource is a fundamental support piece of any communications program.

One of the top goals of a press release is to drive awareness of news content among relevant audiences. Immediate, secondary goals focus on message comprehension and reader actions, including link clicks, reshares, coverage articles, and more. To achieve these goals, the press release must stand out. It must find a way to be seen in a world where reader attention is being pulled everywhere at one time.

As communicators, we cannot control the core of the news that is announced. But we can control how that news is delivered, presented, and how we tell the message we want to share. To do this, we need to identify which elements of our news story are most important to highlight and then consider the modifications we can make to increase reader attention.

What is an A/B test?

A/B testing means creating two versions of content to see which appeals more to audiences. Results may be measured by a wide range of inputs including the number of views the release received, social engagement, link clicks, inbound traffic, and more.

How to A/B Test Your Press Release to Increase Results

Here are eight data points to consider adjusting when A/B testing a press release:

  1. The time and day you send out your press release
  2. Headline word choice
  3. Formatting elements
  4. Including a logo
  5. Repetitive storytelling options
  6. Multimedia elements
  7. Calls to Action (CTAs) and hyperlinks
  8. Audience

1. A/B testing the time and day you send your release

Look at the time and day of the week you send out your press release. There are many factors that impact when a company chooses to issue news and organizations often forget that this timing should match the best time and day for your audience to receive your news.

To select your best time and date, remember:

  1. Every minute counts. Avoid sending your press release at the same time as everyone else.
  2. Skip the top of the hour and be mindful of market opening and closing times. Schedule your news a few minutes before or after key times to ensure your news is not hidden.
  3. Pick the best time of day to reach your desired audience. Our data suggests these generate the most engagement:
    1. Avoid 8 AM, avoid Tuesdays (learn more on timing in this guide and this blog)
    2. Local timing is key when reaching international audiences
  4. Change your launch date. If your news cycle is being dominated by another brand or a larger news story or event, adjust your launch date to maximize your results.

2. A/B testing your press release headline

What gets more clicks? A boring headline or an interesting headline? What about a relevant headline or a corporate statement? Your headline is the gatekeeper to your news. If you’re trying to increase the open rates of your news release, revise your headline using these tips:

  1. Think like a reporter
  2. Speak to the end user’s needs, not your own
  3. Focus on a strong verb vs. adjectives or adverbs
  4. Don’t exaggerate

3. A/B testing your press release format

The fastest way to lose a reader is to present them with a wall of unformatted text. People need bulleted lists, descriptive and bolded paragraph headers, and other formatting options that innately pull their eyes further into your story, allowing them to learn more about your position.

Reformatting your press release is an easy way to increase reader comprehension. Consider including:

  1. Bolded paragraph titles
  2. Italics
  3. Bullets
  4. Tables
  5. Pull quotes/Tweet This prompts
  6. Multimedia

4. A/B testing logo inclusion

Reporters do not have time to write about every story they receive. Often, they scroll through a set of headlines to find the best one for them and their audiences at that moment. This “scroll” is a terrific opportunity for you to brand build even when your story isn’t picked. All you have to do is include your logo within your press release.

The more your logo is seen, the more your brand will be recognized by reporters, analysts, and consumers, increasing the likelihood that they will click through to your news in the future. Adding a logo ensures that even if a person doesn’t open your release upon receipt, they’re aware you’ve issued news – building consumer awareness of your brand. There is no extra cost to include your logo with Business Wire distribution.

5. A/B testing your repetitive storytelling options

Not everyone will immediately understand the true value of your news by reading the headline or first paragraph. You must tell and retell your story in more than one way to increase the comprehension of your news across wide types of audiences.

Every press release provides options for you to tell and retell your story without being, well, repetitive. Here are five ways to restate your news premise within your press release:

  1. Descriptive sub-headline
  2. Release summary – A one-sentence summary of your news
  3. Multimedia captions – Long form summary of your news
  4. Tweetable press release quotes that explain the impact
  5. Pre-written tweets readers can share out

6. A/B testing your multimedia

The entire world speaks in multimedia. So why are you looking for results with text-only news releases?

Multimedia press releases (i.e. Business Wire’s Smart News Release) capture attention in a manner that text cannot. Readers process and understand images faster than text. And reporters need multimedia to cover a press release. But our favorite reason for A/B testing multimedia with your press release is that these assets provide another way to enhance your news in a format that tells your entire story in a single glance.

Here are our best multimedia tips:

  1. Use an earned media image, not a marketing image. This is storytelling, not sales. Focus on showing your user’s story vs. your own.
  2. Try a photo vs. a video: While videos deepen storytelling, images are often easier for reporters to use.
  3. Name your multimedia file before you send it to us! Once we distribute it, those terms will become the URL string and result in higher search results.
  4. Take advantage of that caption: Don’t just explain the image, explain the impact. Use our long-form caption window to retell your story in your words.

7. A/B testing calls to action and hyperlinks

Press releases are rarely read just for fun. They attract highly interested readers who want to learn more about your specific piece of news. Use formatting and imagery to pull them into your news, educate them faster, and encourage the desired behavior. In short, now that you have their attention, give these audiences a place to go.

Test your hyperlink placements and the terms you are using to drive audiences. Use Business Wire’s NewsTrak reporting to see which links received the most engagements, the words they focused on, and the location within the body of the press release.

Hyperlinks, pre-written tweets and/or tweetable quotes within your press release give your audiences the paths to enter your website, primed for action, or to socially advocate your news.

8. A/B testing your release audience

Look at who you’re sending your news to and confirm you’re reaching as wide of a relevant audience as possible. The more places people can discover your news, the greater the chance they’ll read it and act upon it. Are you reaching the right reporters? Geographic markets? Are you reaching only top-tier press or everyone in your industry segments? Modify your distribution to maximize the relevance between the news you are sending and the audience who receives it.

Questions to help you determine this reach:

  1. How does my news impact the people and economy of this geographic market?
  2. How does my news affect the industry?
  3. Does my news affect the market?
  4. Is my news evergreen?

Maximize Impact

A/B testing your press release is the fastest way to maximize the impact of your news and your organization’s brand value. Test, track, and incorporate the best performing elements into future releases. You may be surprised at what draws in readers – and keeps them focused on your news.

Interested to learn more about the possibilities when distributing your press release with Business Wire? Check out these resources:

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