Jolina Pettice

4 Tips for Getting PR Approval on Optimized Press Releases

3d People Around a Table

[Editor note: Please welcome Senior Account Manager Jolina Pettice with this guest post that addresses a common issue with Search Engine Optimization engagements: Getting SEO recommendations implemented!]

Optimizing press releases can be an important part of any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program. It’s usually pretty easy to convince clients of the need to optimize news content since these kinds of releases can reach journalists and bloggers as well as consumers. One common question I often hear involves getting optimized press releases approved by the Public Relations department. PR approved news messaging and SEO keywords are often not in alignment.

An additional consideration is that optimizing press releases often crosses over into different departments, creating an additional group of people who need to be convinced of the benefits of SEO.

Making sure that Public Relations team is bought into the SEO process early is the first step. This can be accomplished by helping PR practitioners understand the benefits to their own media relations initiatives, by leveraging SEO. Read this previous post by Lee on optimizing news content on how to benefit media and public relations efforts through news content optimization.

Once you have company public relations staff convinced, or at least willing to acknowledge SEO, then follow this checklist to ensure your optimized press release makes it through to the newswire for online and email distribution.

 4 Tips to ensure your optimization edits sail through the PR department and impact your SEO program:

1. Maintain the PR Goal: Write for the audience first
Whether the target audience includes journalists or prospects, make sure your SEO changes don’t change the objective of the release.

If the copy doesn’t compel the audience to action, the SEO benefits will have less impact to the organization over all.

2. Identify relevant (and popular) keyword phrases in the DRAFT phase
One of the best ways to make sure you can optimize a release is to talk to the PR department first and make sure your objectives are in alignment.

Start the optimization process while the release is still in DRAFT mode and be willing to compromise. Do this by leveraging keyword phrases the PR team already has in mind.

For example, if the release rolls up to a ‘search engine marketing’ campaign, don’t go in and optimize the release for ‘search engine optimization’.

3. Optimize what’s important, don’t fret over what isn’t

When optimizing, strive to place keyword phrases in the most important places including:

  • Headline
  • Subhead
  • First and Second paragraphs (hyperlink the keywords)
  • Boilerplate (hyperlink the keywords)

If you over optimize, a PR person will catch this straight away. Connect the dots between the keyword phrase in the headline and the keyword hyperlink in the first paragraph.

If that’s all you get in the final release, it’s a start. 🙂 A keyword phrase in the 5th paragraph is not a battle worth fighting.

4. Work together to stretch the newswire dollar
Help your PR department get the most bang for its buck from the newswire by leveraging additional features the wire may offer.

Some features, such as those below, can stretch the newswire dollar by impacting PR and SEO efforts.

  • RSS feeds
  • Keyword tagging
  • Trackbacks
  • Attachments (word docs, images, videos)

Features like RSS feeds can help PR initiatives by expanding the reach of the content, specifically to journalists who continue to increase their use of RSS feeds to monitor specific topics.  

Companies that leverage these 4 tips will help align public relations and search engine optimization for improved search visibility of news and the company as a whole. If  PR and marketing work together as a team, both lead generation and media coverage objectives can improve significantly.

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (4 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)


  1. Avatar Steen Seo Öhman says

    Thanks great post

    I’m trying to get a client to use some of the tools/tips described in the post. But in Denmark it’s still early days for these things.

    But hopefully we will move on and be more professional.

  2. Hi,
    I really like number 3; I was placing great importance on the first paragraph but I’ll try and make some experiments with the second paragraph also. Thanks for the tip.

    @TomaBonciu on Twitter

  3. Great post. Having keywords mapped out in the draft phase is so crucial. Good keywords are like a strong foundation.

  4. Avatar Stephanie Valentine says

    The flow of your steps is a very good one. It resembles the process that really good article marketers follow. You have to write for your audience first, then go back and optimize. I notice that people who are new to this kind of writing (be it PR or article marketing) get hung up on keywords and other optimization techniques so much that they flat out can’t write at all. All the optimization mumbo-jumbo just kills the creativity. So the idea of writing for the audience first then boiling the optimization process down to a science is a perfect process. I often have people start with the subject appropriate for the audience, then write a catchy title to spark their imagination, write the article, and then optimize. Same type of flow as your steps. Great post, thank you!

  5. The steps that you talk about are probably the basic standards adopted by SEO departments. They are a good starting point to any SEO campaign and would help ‘in-house optimization’. However, my experience of SEO is that it takes time energy, total commitment and most of all resources.

  6. Avatar Karen Price says

    After reading this, my first question was what do you consider the difference… between rolling up under a SEM vs. SEO program? I’m an experienced SEO specialist that builds websites, and a Marketing Manager. Broadly, I thought most of the marketing and pr folks thought these were the same thing. What’s the difference? Perhaps SEM tactics are within the overall SEO plan. Maybe do a post on this?

  7. It’s a very good procedure indeed. I’ve recently got into SEO in order to position a New age Music website and I must admit it requires a great amount of time to do all the steps. I’ve heard of all those software that can ‘do it for you’ but I’m afraid to use them. What if Google bans you? I’ve heard some stories on twitter recently of sites being put down. One has to be cautious not to fall into the magical thinking and emergency of succeeding. Whatever we do, one of the best promotion is the word of mouth from happy customers and secondly good SEO for organic traffic. Thanks for your tips, it’s always good to refresh my mind with useful tips!

    • Thank you Marcomé, I agree that word of mouth is very important. The beauty of a good social media and SEO marketing program is that those communication tools help facilitate both discovery and word of mouth.

  8. Great post. as a newcomer to SEO i will bear these points in mind, especially point 3. about keywords and where to add them, for it to be most effective.

  9. great post. There’s also a few sites that you can post releases to that are either free or very affordable. It’s also a good idea to search for news sites around your specific market, as most will post legit press releases for free.

  10. Thanks for sharing these tips! The most important one being to hyperlink the keywords you want to optimize your release for – as opposed to the name of the company, or even worse, “click here”!

  11. This is a great post, thanks for sharing all these tips. I agree with point 3, it is important that you put your keywords in the correct place for your press release to work.