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This is the first in a series on how to write press releases. I'll start with the general principles — applicable to all types of press releases — then will delve deeper into SEO requirements in future posts.

Keep in mind that SEO press releases serve a dual purpose:

1. True Public Relations (Announcing news, building your brand, drawing customers to your website.)

2. Boost Search Engine Rankings (By broadcasting links to your website)

Never assume that because SEO press releases are “just for SEO”, they don't have to be compelling. People *will* read them. They'll even add them to their websites and/or blogs. So craft SEO press releases just as carefully as you would a “normal” press release.

General Press Release Guidelines:

” Headlines are critical. You only have a second to grab the reader's attention. PRweb recommends 85 characters maximum. (You can go longer, but make sure you grab the reader with your opening words.)

” After the headline, many newswires require a “deck”. This is a short summary, and must be written carefully to draw the reader in. It should be between one and three sentences long.

” The body of your press release should start with the city, date and newswire name. Follow the format of the newswire you're using. For PR Web, the format is:

“Vancouver, BC (PRWeb) July 29, 2007  Begin text…”

” The body of press release should use an “inverted pyramid” style. Start with the crux of the matter, then add progressively more detail.

” There should be some news value to any press release. If you don't have any news, consider writing the press release as an “analysis”. At the very least, add a fresh point of view.

” Press releases should not read like an advertisement. No hyperbole, no excessive marketing language.

” Write in a lively, active style.

” Unless you're aiming at a very specific target group, avoid complex terminology and jargon.

” Keep sentences and paragraphs short.

” Use an objective voice. Do not use first person (“I”) or first person plural (“we”) except in quotations.

” Do not address the reader directly with “you”. Instead, more objective forms like “most buyers find…” or “to most people…”

” Quotation blocks are often useful, particularly for breaking out of the objective voice. If you don't have actual quotations, write them yourself and get the quoted person's approval.

” Add contact information at end. Include the contact's name, title, company, address, postal code, telephone numbers and URL. Do not include an email address (because of spambots).

” The end of the press release is traditionally marked with ###.

Keep in mind that with the exception of formatting rules, the above are simply guidelines. Sometimes you can stand out by judiciously breaking rules  and hoping the editors let you get away with it!