Something huge just happened at your company. Maybe the funding that you have been waiting for finally came through. Or maybe you made an amazing new hire. Whatever it is, if it something that is going to impress your customers (as well as those who have yet to become your customers), you need to let people know about it. How will you do that? Writing a press release is an option that you should consider.
Press releases are an easy way to get your news into the hands of a media outlet. When you distribute a press release, you give journalists the information that they need to share your news with their readers. Should they choose to do that, your big news becomes a news story. While you shouldn’t expect that all the releases you issue will make the evening news (or even appear in a local media outlet), it is a shot worth taking.
What is a press release?
A press release, sometimes known as a media release, is a written or recorded communication (yes, video releases are a thing that some news outlets accepts) designed to alert members of the news media that an organization has achieved something newsworthy. They have been used for decades as a means of seeking press coverage. The earliest examples were mailed to assignment editors and journalists at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, online media, television stations, or television networks. Later they were sent via fax.
In the age of digitization, releases are typically sent via email. Often this involves a press release distribution service that allows hundreds of media outlets to be reached with the click of a button. There are websites that provide free press release distribution services, as well as those that charge a fee to submit your press release.
What are best practices for press releases?
While this post will focus on how to distribute a press release, it is important to make sure you follow some best practices when writing a release. If you get your release into the hands of a reporter or news editor, they will be looking for certain components. These include:
- your brand’s logo,
- a headline that clearly communicates your news,
- a sub-headline that adds to the clarity, a dateline,
- a lead paragraph that provides key details,
- a body paragraph that provides more relevant details,
- a quote from someone in your company on the news,
- a “boilerplate” that explains what your brand is and what it does, and
- contact information.
If you would like more information on drafting a great release, see this post from the OtterPR blog.
Why issue a press release?
In the age of social media, it may seem like a press release is passé. You could have hundreds if not thousands of followers there with whom you could share the news. Or maybe you believe that working with an influencer is a better way to get updates about your brand to your target market. While those channels serve valuable purposes and should not be neglected, media coverage can achieve things for your brand that other promotional channels cannot.
Brand authority is one thing that you press coverage will help you to achieve. To fully appreciate the value of having your brand mentioned in news coverage you need to understand the differences between Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media. If you would like a primer on that, check out this Ultimate Guide on Earned Media and Paid Media on the OtterPR blog.
Releases are also valuable for helping to create backlinks to your website. Backlink building is an important part of your brand’s online strategy. It helps you to improve your ranking on search engines, establish your credibility as an expert in your field, and generally boost your brand’s reputation. To learn more about how to earn backlinks, check out this post on How to Improve Search Engine Optimization through Backlink Building on the OtterPR blog.
Where do I submit a press release?
Because your goal is to get your release in the inbox of a journalist, the obvious approach would be to send your release directly to relevant journalists. While this can be effective, it is not the most efficient way to spread the news. A host of press releases services exist that can assist you. They get your release in front of multiple journalists and media outlets through a single portal. Some of these services are free and others require that you pay a fee.
Regardless of the channel you choose for distribution, it is important that you determine the optimal target audience for your release. Your news, no matter how great it is, will not be relevant to everyone. Spending a little time to determine which outlets would be most likely to share your news will help you to optimize your efforts.
Imagine you are a company that makes running shoes and you are sponsoring a new team of runners that includes several Olympic hopefuls. Your best bet for getting media coverage would be pitching to outlets that cover sporting news. Alternatively, if your company is a small company and this is your first foray into sponsorships, your story might be interesting to outlets that focus on small business development. A local news outlet could also be a smart place to pitch your release, especially if the runners on your team include people from the community.
For more information on where to submit a press release, check out this post on 27 Free Sites Where Guests Can Post Press Releases
27 top free guest post press release sites (in no particular order)
Newswire Today – The free version is available only to charitable organizations.
IssueWire – This is a PR agency that provides a free service for press releases with very limited options.
Online PR News – You will need to set up a free account to use this site. Once you do, you have a useful interface where you can save draft releases and access free templates. Your posts are left up for 90 days.
PR Log – This site requires you establish a free account and provides free distribution of your press releases to search engines. It has a unique feature of creating “Newsrooms” for your company that include all of your press releases and can be searched by journalists.
PR – This site allows you to select free or paid distribution for each press release you post, giving you the opportunity to enhance your chance of connecting if you feel you have something especially newsworthy to share.
PR Free – This site’s free service is very basic, but it does provide distribution to search engines.
PR Inside – This site is no frills and includes a lot of international news.
1888 Press Release – This site allows you to attach files, logos, and images to press releases, as well as display your company website within the release.
Market Press Release – Using this site for free limits you to one press release per day. It provides a breakdown of press releases by industry that makes it easier for journalists to find what they are looking for.
OpenPR – This site limits free press releases to one every 30 days.
PR9 – This is another no frills site that provides a range of categories but does not allow for much formatting in the releases.
Pressbox – This London-based site makes it super easy to submit a press release and also provides press release writing advice.
BizEurope – Press releases submitted here are fed to the company’s various business sites.
UK PR Wire – This site is only free for charities and releases related to corporate social responsibility updates.
NPR – You can submit press releases to National Public Radio through its Contact Us form.
BusinessWire – You must apply and be accepted as a member to gain access to this service, but it is worth pursuing.
TMCNet – A simple form allows you to submit press releases to this page and request a notification when it is published.
PR Sync – This site requires that you create a free account before submitting press releases.
Free PR Now – Every press release posted to this site appears on the home page, where it also posts a count of the number of views the release receives.
ClickPress – Very similar to the UK PR Wire site, where charity and corporate social responsibility releases are free.
Free Press Release Center – Yet another no frills site, however this one gives you the option to upgrade to a pro account for $2.99 and have your press releases features on its page.
Press Release Post – Press releases posted for free here can take up to three days to appear.
Press Release 101 – This is very similar to the Press Release Post site, with the same timeline for publication of free press releases.
Nanotech Now – If your business focuses on nanotechnology, this is the site for you.
Thomas – You can post press releases about engineering and data analysis on this site for free.
Web Know How – Press releases are welcome here that share news about web hosting, website promotion, and domain name registration.
ENews Wire – A UK-based news site that provides a very user-friendly form for free press releases submissions.
Are a pitch and a press release the same thing?
If you are paying attention, you may have noticed that I used a new word in that last paragraph: pitch. You will typically include a pitch when you send a release to media outlet. In essence, a pitch is a few lines that immediately help the journalist knew why he or she should read your release.
You might think of a release as informative, whereas a pitch is persuasive. Imagine you are sending out a release about a new service your company is offering to help seniors to obtain discounted prescriptions. You might remind the journalist about the high population of seniors among his readership. You might also share a stat or two about the rising cost of prescription medication. If you know from your research that this reporter often reports on issues related to seniors, you could point that this is something that is right up his alley.
What is the difference between a paid and a free press release distribution service?
The obvious difference here is that a free press release submission site does not charge a fee to share your release, while a paid press release submission site does. So what do you get for the fee? Basically, paid sites offer more features.
To get a feel for the difference, here are the various packages that you can select from on the press release distribution service website Online PR News.
- Free Package – This provides you with a live URL link for your release, SEO for your title and meta tag, and PDF version of the release that can be downloaded. In addition, it adds advertisements to your release.
- $22 package – This includes everything in the free package, except the ads, plus more links, images, a longer publication period, and syndication of your headline on RSS feeds.
- $179 package – This includes everything in the $22 package plus more formatting options, placement on a network of partner sites, and expert review of editorial and SEO to improve visibility.
- $399 package – This includes everything in the $179 package plus Newswire distribution and a report on where the release was published.
As you can see, paying a press release distribution service gains you additional tools that can be used to boost your reach. However, that does not mean that you should avoid free sites. If you are just getting your feet wet with issuing releases, free sites, like 1888 Press Release, can help you to fine-tune your skills. Regardless of the route you choose, pay attention to your analytics to see what works best for you. Paying for a robust package is a waste of money if it does not result in media coverage. (If you would like to see a listing of sites where you can get your release posted for free, check out this blog post from the OtterPR blog.)
What happens once I publish a press release to a submission website?
What happens after you send a press release to a submission site has a lot to do with the type of service you are using. However, in general you can expect two things. First, the release will appear on the distribution site among the other releases it is sharing. Second, it will be distributed to news and media outlets.
If your release piques the interest of a journalist, there are a few things they might do. They may print it as is, basically cutting and pasting what you have provided into a story that they release. (This is why it is so important that your release be clear, complete, and well-written.) They might also use the information to craft their own story, packing your content in a fresh way that suits their outlet and connects with their readers. A third possibility involves them reaching out to you to find out more information. They may ask for another quote or clarification on the information you provided.
Because a reporter may call, it is important that the contact listed on the release be available, informed, and ready to provide whatever information the journalist needs. Journalists often are operating on very tight deadlines. They may end up passing on the story if they cannot find someone at your organization to provide them with the information that they need.
Should I hire a PR firm to send a press release?
You should consider partnering with a public relations firm to boost your presence in the media if your goal is growing your brand or gaining a reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Partnering with a qualified PR firm provides you access to years of expertise in crafting, pitching, and submitting press releases. PR firms know not only how to submit a release, but also when to submit a release to maximize its potential of attracting media attention.
In addition, PR firms have long-term relationships with dozens, if not hundreds, of media contacts. When you submit your own release, a journalists sees a message from a business hoping to get some media coverage. When a publicist at a PR firm submits a release, a journalist often sees a message from a friend who has proven to provide engaging stories that are relevant to readers.
Tags: free press release, press release, public relations crisis