Any time an organization distributes a press release, the goal is to generate coverage, create buzz, and reach as many people as possible. Public relations and marketing communicators know this is tough and are always looking for ways to improve.  

There are several tactics to consider and test: formatting elements, adding multimedia and quotes, translating your news (depending on your target audience), optimizing your release for reporters, working with a newswire, and more. 

Something else to consider as you draft your next release is incorporating keywords. Doing keyword research, adding these terms to your release, and testing their placement can all lead to more coverage and increased results. 

What are keywords? 

Keywords are words and phrases that someone might use when searching for your product or services, or that people would use when describing your offering.  

If you’re looking for a landscaping company to do work in your yard, what words, terms, or questions would you enter when searching online to find a company for the job? “Landscaper,” “landscaping,” “landscaper in Chicago,” “landscaping business,” “landscaping services,” etc. These are examples of keywords.  

When relevant keywords are added to your press release, they help people find your news and information, and they help drive traffic to your business and website.  

How should keywords be used in press releases? 

Start by generating a list of keywords. Do your research. Keep in mind that you may not use every single term – keep them relevant to your news – but start building a list you can refer to as you write and review a draft of your release. Remind yourself: what is most relevant and valuable to potential readers? 

  • Review any targeted marketing your team is doing to support your overall goals. Are any of the keywords related to your efforts applicable to your news release? 
  • Think like your key demographic. What words or phrases are they using to find you? Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Search Console can help. 
  • Are any trending keywords relevant to your news? These can be leveraged to gain more traffic to your release. 
  • What words or phrases are associated with your competitors? Are there any terms that stand out in their press releases or on their website?  
  • Sometimes terms associated with your brand can be useful. Consider your organization’s name, tagline, or trademarked terms. 

Next, compare a draft of your press release with your list of keywords. You can eliminate any keywords that are irrelevant to your specific announcement, and when you add keywords to your release, they should flow naturally. If you find that sentences start getting too wordy or aren’t reading in your brand’s voice, skip adding those keywords. It’s important to balance the readability of your news with keyword usage. 

Keywords can be added throughout your news release, with priority keywords in the headline or release summary, and others sprinkled throughout the first paragraph and body. Naming any multimedia files using keywords and adding searchable terms to captions are also beneficial.  

What is the impact of keywords? 

In a webinar, Attributing Economic Results to Press Releases, Greg Jarboe shared one of his case studies from January 2019, in which he utilized keyword research to generate leads and revenue for Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. 

With a goal to generate 30 application submissions in seven months, Greg’s first step was keyword research to identify the target audience. He asked the questions: What are people searching? Why are people searching? He guided his keyword research by getting to know his audience: potential enrollees at the School of Management and Labor Relations. 

To better get to know his audience – and to help understand brand recognition and how this might change over time – Greg conducted surveys. Results showed that those with 4+ years of human resource experience felt that factors like no GRE or GMAT requirement, overall university ranking, and online courses were all top factors when selecting a university. Each of these “no GRE/GMAT required,” “top-ranked university,” and “fully 100% online program” led to keywords Greg incorporated into the releases he distributed.  

By optimizing his releases with keywords and adding tracking URLs (which also incorporated keywords), Greg was able to share with Rutgers that the campaign: 

  • Drove 8,337 new users to the specified landing page 
  • Generated 694 leads 
  • Resulted in 38 completed applications, worth up to nearly $1.5 million in tuition with students starting that fall or in 2020 

Whether you’re new to keywords or looking for different ways to research and utilize keywords in your next release, focusing on usage in your organization’s announcements can help your overall results.  

Learn more  


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