Write your PR for robots AND humans

blog graphic_robot and humans

By Kat Beaulieu, Communications Strategist


Whether you call it a press, news or media release or a press statement, it’s all the same thing—it’s the communication piece aimed at hooking the media onto your story. Far from being a relic relegated to our past, the press release lives on as an important tool in a PR professional’s toolkit. But in this age of media overload, getting your press release noticed is no simple feat. Plus, nowadays it’s equally important to ensure your press release appeals to robots and humans alike.

Read on for some best practices for ensuring your press release is seen by robots and humans and not getting lost in the shuffle.

The Writing Phase

Writing a press release for robots

Start writing your press release with an audience in mind. In this case, let’s begin with our robot audience. When I say ‘robots,’ I’m not talking about The Terminator, or Autobots & Decepticons, or cute heartstring-pulling characters like WALL-E. I’m talking about those web-crawling spiders that do all the grunt work of indexing the internet so that when we do a Google search on “press release,” it only takes 0.84 seconds to return 272,000,000 results (take THAT, human!)

Writing a press release for robots, or more specifically, writing an SEO optimized press release, follows certain protocols which are largely determined by the current algorithms of the top search engines you want to place prominently on. Basically you need to follow the same rules for your press release as you would for a web page. Fundamentally, this comes down to:

1. figuring out your key search terms

2. making sure those terms are peppered as naturally as possible throughout your press release.

Robots don’t care about varying your language to keep things interesting, using creative, emotional hooks to encourage them to read more, or even grammar and typos (unless they’re your key search terms, of course.) The robots will read to the end of your release no matter what and then efficiently and mathematically rank your press release among the 272,000,000 other ones out there.

Writing a press release for humans

Humans, on the other hand, care about all of those things. If there’s nothing compelling about your headline, they won’t bother reading more. If the release reads like a boring SEO-peppered document with no WIIFM (what’s in it for me, or my audience), they won’t bother remembering it. And if your release has grammatical mistakes or typos, it will also upset most humans in editor, journalist (and many) blogger roles and they’ll stop reading it. So after investing time creating an SEO optimized press release, edit it for human consumption. This means spending the time to:

1. Create a catchy headline for your press release that piques a human’s curiosity

2. Elaborate on the press release headline with supporting detail in the sub-head

3. Embed WIIFM detail throughout the body of the press release, preferably with an emotional connection—make it instantly clear why this topic is relevant, interesting, funny, sad, irritating, inspiring, joyful and most importantly, worth sharing. Give it the Facebook share test—is the info cool enough that you’d share it on Facebook given the right audience?

4. Include a good and relevant photo that supports the story. A picture says a thousand words, and this is so much more important in today’s highly-visual media arena. Plus, providing a low-res image in your initial press release provides an excellent opportunity for you to accompany the release with a personalized note to get in touch with you for a hi-res version.

5. Proofread. Robots don’t care about typos. Humans do.

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