In addition to getting out news to trade publications, press releases once served as a useful SEO tool. That’s because if we included links in them, and these were included in any online publication, they became a great way of generating external links – one of the core requirements of getting a good search results ranking.
Naturally, this was abused no end, and eventually Google just said that they “try to ignore links from …press releases” because “any links in there are essentially placed by (the companies) themselves.”
However, although the links might not get us any search engine credit, people will follow them, which is what it’s all about. And if it really is link benefit we’re after, perhaps on rare occasions those people might even create separate genuine links to us.
Also, don’t forget that while Google may not give us any link credit from a press released published online, it will include the release in its results.
The format of a good press release has never really changed: get to the point in the first sentence, don’t over-dramatise things, and write in plain language. But the reason for writing one is now back to what it was thirty years ago. And that’s not a bad thing.