Beyond the headline
by Alex Reichenbach
There is one writing tool that all PR practitioners know like the back of their hand — the press release.
This basic “who, what, when, where, why and how” document has always been a major component of the public relations industry. But many of us fail to realize there is a science behind this straightforward, informational piece.
Dan Zarella, social media scientist at Hubspot, shared secrets in a Webinar that go beyond the simple writing components and into the actual data behind the effectiveness of press releases.
We all know press releases are distributed to a variety of media outlets. But how can we really determine whether or not viewers are reading the press release? Hubspot has partnered with PRNewswire and gained valuable information that has made a great impact on the effectiveness of press releases.
Zarella believes looking at the total views will reveal statistics of the release that will help publishers reach a higher number of viewers.
According to Zarella, the total views represents the total amount of times someone has looked at a release, whether it was through RSS feeds, e-mails, search engines or other outlets. An important aspect of the total views is the fact that it calculates the number of times someone reads the actual release, NOT just the headline.
Now let’s look at a variety of ways you can publish a release to reach the highest number of viewers.
What day should you publish?
Every day of the week has a different number of total views. Surprisingly, the most effective day to publish a press release is either Saturday or Sunday. This seems shocking to me, being that Saturdays and Sundays are considered days of leisure for many. But Zarella has a very interesting reasoning behind this.
“If everyone at a party was screaming and shouting, you would have to yell just to be heard,” Zarella said. “But if you say something awkward, you will be heard.”
In other words, it’s not the norm to publish a press release on the weekends, while it is extremely popular in the middle of the week. If you choose to publish on these seemingly awkward days, you will most likely be noticed.
What time should you publish?
The time of day you choose to publish a release may be the most important factor when calculating the total views. For those of you who stay up late, you’ll be happy to know press releases published between 12 and 1 a.m. are correlated with a higher number of total views. If you think about it, when publishers arrive to work early in the morning, they are most likely going to see your release before anyone else’s.
Zarella mentioned a benefit of publishing at these hours that had never crossed my mind. If your press release is intended for viewers across the world, these hours are very accommodating to time zones outside of the U.S. Your press release will capture a global audience.
How many characters in a headline?
What’s so important about the number of letters in a headline? Believe it or not, the headline is the most important aspect of the press release. If it doesn’t appeal to the reader, there is no reason for them to read what you have to say.
According to Zarella, the secret behind an effective headline is to stay between 120 and 140 characters. This is especially important when promoting a release through social media outlets. Social media users would understand how posts more than 140 characters are boring and most likely overlooked.
To be effective with your headlines, stick to the basics and know how to appeal to your readers.
Are pictures really worth it?
Publishing a release with photos is correlated with much higher total views. This shouldn’t surprise any of us. If we are browsing the Internet, we are prone to click on a picture to read more, rather than a bunch of words.
Publishers who include a picture with their release are setting themselves apart from other publishers and will be more successful in reaching their target audiences.
The successful press release
Press releases are writing tools that are used on a day-to-day basis. In the public relations world, publishing your press release can be extremely competitive. By following these Hubspot secrets, you can be certain your release will not only be published, but also read by your viewers.