When you’re trying to get the local media to cover your special event, search engine optimization is probably the last thing on your mind. But chances are, your press release will be posted somewhere on the Internet (preferably on your own website), so it makes sense to make it Google-friendly.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of making your online content accessible and appealing to search engines, and creating off-site backlinks and social media mentions (also known as off-page SEO). The purpose of SEO is to get your website to rank on the first couple of pages of search results for your targeted search phrases, or “keywords.” For example, if you’re a breast cancer charity in Boise, you want your website to appear on page one when someone with a breast cancer searches for “Boise breast cancer support groups.”

Search engines rely on wildly complex and every-changing algorithms to determine which websites are relevant to which search terms. Internet marketers have started to notice that the mathematicians at Google are putting a lot more weight on links from “high authority” websites.

Some of the highest authority websites are connected to media outlets such as TV stations, radio stations and newspapers. In some ways, having a link back to your website from the Wall Street Journal is more valuable than buying an ad in the publication.

If you have a special event scheduled, follow these steps to help ensure that you earn the attention of the media — and online coverage.

1. Do keyword research to find out the search terms that people are using to find your website.The most popular keyword research tool is probably Google’s own Adwords Keyword Tool.

2. Create a high-quality, search engine optimized press kit and post it on your event web page. By “high-quality,” I mean “newsworthy” and “written according to the Associate Press Stylebook,” the style guide used by the majority of pressrooms in North America.

Your press kit could include:

• A press release that describes the event (who, what, where, when, why, how) with hyperlinks to relevant pages on your website

• A schedule that lists the time(s) and location(s) of any activities happening at your event
• Public service announcements about the event in 15-second and 30-second lengths
• A “backgrounder” page about your organization, company, product, service or cause
• Brief biographies of the leaders in your organization
• Low-resolution (72 DPI) and high-resolution (300 DPI) professional photos of your key personnel, the event location, your products, etc. (whatever makes sense for your event)
• A list of story ideas or angles that will help journalists cover your event

Every single page in your media kit should include your contact details — including an email address that you check frequently — and a phone number where you can be reached immediately on the day of the event. And if you’re posting the release as individual web pages (not a bad idea), you can include social share buttons for Facebook and Twitter on every page (and Instagram and Pinterest on every photo) to help get your message out.

3. Include your top keyword phrase in every headline on every page, and in many of the hyperlinks in the documents themselves.

For example, if your event is a public relations forum, and you’re promoting a breakout session on writing SEO press releases, a good title might be, “SEO Press Release Writing: Learn The Top Five Tips.” A more interesting, but ironically less Google-friendly headline might be, “Picking Our PR Brains For Googlicious Writing Hints.” You understand what this means, but Google’s search algorithm may not.

4. Share a link to your SEO press release on your social networks and with journalists on Twitter, and email the release to your local media contacts.

You do have a list of local media contacts, right? If not, get one, ASAP.

Encourage your friends and followers to share your news release with their friends and followers.

Your goal is to attract enough media attention to merit an appearance by a news crew or a newspaper interview. But there’s always a chance that pieces of your media kit will be used as-is, especially by smaller publications such as community newspapers.

If you share a newsworthy online press kit with local journalists, and ensure that the kit is search engine optimized, you can generate both media coverage in the short term and better “link juice” in the long term. That’s a win-win however you look at it.


Public Relations consultant Kathleen Hanover has been attracting media coverage with high-impact press releases and public relations campaigns for nearly 27 years. Her public relations work has earned coverage in local, regional, national and international newspapers, magazines, on television, radio, and online, including placements in top-tier publications including Popular Science, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Times, Associated Press, and many, many more.

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