Search Engine Lowdown, one of the best blogs in the space, offers some excellent tips on optimizing your press releases for the search engines. I'll give you a byte, but definitely read the whole post:
Tips for Maximizing Your PR Efforts in Search Engines
• Include company name and your most important keyphrase in the title of the press release.
• Include company name and keyphrases in line with your PR and SE presence goals throughout the release, though not conspicuously and not to the detriment of readability or sense
• If you're publicly traded, include your ticker symbol in the title of the press release.
• Link your keyphrase in the body of the press release to the page on your site that's optimized for this keyphrase.
• Include contact info and a paragraph targeted specifically towards bloggers
Now, I've been writing what I thought were optimized releases for years... and these no-nonsense tips include ideas I hadn't even considered. For example, the idea of specifically targeting bloggers is beyond clever. As the line between consumer-generated and traditional media (i.e. bloggers v. reporters) grows ever blurrier, we PR folks should consider how to best reach bloggers. Fashioning news releases in a way that appeals to both, while it may be challenging, is definitely smart. (I'll have to look for examples of releases that have successfully managed this -- for my own benefit and yours.)
Anyway, I'd like to add some additional suggestions for optimizing your press releases:
First of all, check out PR Web, particularly if you're not using one of the larger PR services at this point. PR Web allows you to keyword optimize your releases by inserting your own keywords into a dialogue box. It also, for a small fee, guarantees inclusion in Yahoo and Google News.
Secondly, use analytics to track your release. Most wire services offer basic tools. We use our own proprietary tracking tool, InsightGrit. Every link I included in our releases is coded so I can track every visit and conversion that comes in from the release, no matter where it's been picked up.
Third, be sure to keep your release straightforward and relevant. SEO has certainly taken all the joy out of writing press releases -- the challenge has gone from writing a snappy headline to incorporating as many of your important keywords as possible and still keeping it understandable and somewhat eye-catching. But the clear, concise, well-written release catches the search engines AND the reporters, so stay the course.
Finally, post your release -- or a key portion of it -- on your blog. Seems obvious, but even I forget to do that sometimes.
Incidentally, I love SEL's tip about linking the release's keyword phrases to a landing page specific to that page. Very, very smart stuff.
Although it may seem that PR and SEO are counterintuitive, disciplines stemming from different sides of the brain, they really can -- and need to -- work together. Making it happen is a tough exercise, but it's in your company's best interest to give it a shot.