You have exciting news to share about your company, but how do you get the word out? One of the most effective strategies is to create and distribute a press release. With an attention-grabbing title and the right hook, your company news can be shared with the right audience at the right time.
For this list, we reached out to professionals who are versed in the art of the perfect press release and distribution. From their generous guidance, we compiled a list of their awesome tips to help you successfully distribute your own press release. A very big thank you to everyone who contributed to our list.
1. It all starts with knowing your audience.
- Know your audience – don’t blindly pitch a journalist without knowing if your pitch is relevant to what they write about.
- Personalize the pitch to each journalist – I try to be as personal as possible and if I am able to, I will reference another piece he/she has written on the subject to demonstrate why I think my pitch will be of interest
- Be helpful – demonstrate to the journalists with whom you interact how YOU can help THEM. it’s not a one way street.
- Try to build a media list that is very specific and very targeted – I use Cision to create media lists. It is important to target the right people with information that is relevant to their beat or area of interest.
- Aim for quality over quantity – It’s better to send your press release to fewer journalists for whom your news will be extremely relevant, than to a larger number of journalists who really may not care about your news or even cover the topic you are pitching.
-Debbie Goetz, President, Debbie Goetz Media Connections, LLC
2. Build relations with journalists, and nurture it.
I’d recommend for small/medium companies to not use a distribution service as they’ll burn a hole in your pocket. The best way to get good coverage is to build relations with the top journalists in your niche. It is a long-term-strategy as opposed to a one-time-hit.
Steps you can take:
- Identify journalists who write about your niche, find something they wrote.
- Tell them you liked the post – send an email, tweet to them, share the post from your social accounts.
- Once they respond, introduce them to your product.
- Keep in touch with them – send them updates about your product, send free resources their way, develop affiliate marketing relationship.
- The key is to keep in touch with them. Help them any way you can. Do not fall off their radar.
– Niraj Ranjan Rout, CEO, Hiver
3. Be your own distribution service.
Don’t use a distribution service, be your own. Unless you are a Fortune 1000 company or publicly traded, distribution services are like feeding a tic tac to a whale. You are far better served to find your top 10, 20, 50, 100 reporters and simply call and email them directly and build relationships. Floating a release over the wire to me is most of the time a wasted effort vs. the hands on approach I just described.
-Jamie Diamond, Owner, Wild Beagles, Inc.
1) Go online and visit your local media sites and copy their emails and first names into an excel sheet.
2) Next, go to MailChimp.com, which is a free email marketing service, and create an account. Add your mailing list of local and national media reporters that you wish to send your releases to. Now you can build your release complete with all of your contact information into an email, and send it to every reporter on your list.
3) Once you submit your release, MailChimp allows you to see which recipients opened your email. This allows you to follow-up with certain reporters of interest to determine if they need any additional quotes or details for their story regarding your release. What you’re really doing here is driving more attention to you, and your story.
You should be continually sending out press releases on a consistent basis. With this tip, you can continually do it yourself for free, while adding as may reporters as you would like in the future.
-Matthew Steffen, President, Imprinsic Marketing Group
5. Research 20 industry-specific journalists and craft a personalized pitch.
Blanket press release pitches sent with mail merge or other platforms like Mail Chimp are efficient and time-saving, but individual, personalized pitches are more effective. Instead of distributing to a list of 500 related journalists, hone in on 20 journalists with specific pitches accompanying your releases.
-Emily Altimari, Account Coordinator, UPRAISE Marketing and Public Relations
Spray and Pray–send them out to as many sources and possible, and pray something sticks! It always does stick someplace… and it is free. You never know what may come from the press release.
Another tip is to write your press release concisely and ready to read or print so that if the media picks it up, it is ready to go and will not require someone to re-write or edit… if that happens, something you feel is valuable in the release may get omitted.
Build your email list of media contacts into a contact group. When you send a press release via email, put your name in the TO: Field, and BCC: the group. Have a STRONG subject line. In the body of the email, type:* FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *and copy and past the first few lines of the press release into the body of the email… follow with * See Attached Release.*
Keep in mind that you are requesting what amounts to FREE publicity for some reason or another. The media is not obligated to run it. DO NOT rely on your press releases for advertising… but use it as a supplement and use it at times that can make you appear as the expert on something.
-Judy Crockett, Interactive Marketing & Communication
7. Target your release and personalize.
I’ve been writing and distributing press releases for about 8 years now. First as a media relations expert at Argonne National Laboratory and then as a freelancer.
My best tips are target your release and personalize. Too many people just use a service like PRNewswire to blast out an email and leave it at that. Services can provide some targeting, but the best results always happen with a personal pitch.
Take some time to research the places you want to get press and send a personal email with name, developed pitch, attached release and contact info. If you have one publication you really want in, then send them offer them an exclusive. Reporters get tons of press releases a day and you have to set yourself apart from the rest or you’re not going to get interest.
-Brock Cooper, Profitable Prose
Phone and fax and mail are still very effective for reaching a reporter, especially in a world where a copy desk or a reporter may receive thousands of emailed press releases every day…..And your emailed press release may have already been flagged as spam by their computer.
-Robert Barrows, R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations
While newswires and online distribution platforms can help increase visibility, it’s critical that you distribute your press release to an actual media list. The key is to identify and target journalists that cover your industry, and get your news in front of them. The goal of media relations is that you’re not always having to approach the media, but that the media recognizes your authority in your industry and proactively approaches you for feature stories, interviews, commentary and other opportunities.
-Ty Mays, Founder & Lead Strategist, Perfect Pitch Public Relations
An increasing number of journalists use software programs to organize press releases that relate to their area of coverage before they read them. Use keywords that clearly define your announcement in terms of traditional media coverage areas, such as location or technology. It is always a good idea to monitor trending topics that relate to your business, such as popular hashtags on Twitter or new industry buzzwords. By optimizing your press releases for software searches, as well as traditional search engines, you will increase visibility of any release.
-Maria Canul, Media Relations Strategist, PRx Digital
11. Make it Simple, Sexy and Informative.
Always follow SSI Simple, Sexy, Informative. Too many press releases are long and boring. Make it quick to the point, informative without information overload and of course sexy.
-Glenn Cipolla, Senior Partner, VP Technology, and Czar of PR, INTAP
Be personal. At the very least, customize your email with a specific person’s name instead of mass mailing a press release to several people using To Whom It May Concern. Once you have created your media list, look them up on social media or Google them to see what they have written lately. If you show how your press release is relevant to, or may be of interest to them due to their previous story, say so.
Another idea is to give them a suggestion on where your news may fit in their publication. For example, you suggest that your press release may be a good for the X section. These tips demonstrate that you know something about the media outlet and aren’t just spamming them with your press release.
-Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing
13. Shift your thinking on press release distribution: It’s not a blast, it’s a conversation starter.
My tip for press release distribution is think of the press release as a personal, customized communication rather than a blast to an anonymous audience. The real value in PR is creating meaningful relationships and storytelling, and the only way to do that is to take the time and effort to seek out those media members that you want to connect with and build an authentic relationship in a non-salesy way.
-Daniel K. Lobring, Managing Director, rEvolution
14. Always add a piece of engaging information that can be taken away to further distinguish your company, service or product from others in the market.
A relevant, but interesting story or slice of knowledge surrounding your segment will leave a lasting impression on the readers that may or may not be familiar with the topic.
-Brenden R. Crampton, CPA, Access Street
If you do not have the budget for an internal or external PR pro, then what you should do is.
- Turn the press release into a targeted 2 paragraph pitch which includes the important news encapsulated in bigger issue market relevancy.
- Take key data from the press release and turn it into easy to cut and past bullet points (press release really are not that important anymore)
- Research the key publications in your target demographics. Include print, digital, blogs, etc.
- Identify the journalists you want to reach, google their contact info or call the publication for the emails
- Distribute your pitch with the bullet points
- Follow up over the next week to week and a half to ensure receipt, gauge interest, and provide support for coverage
- Repeat with next release topic
-Joshua Kail, Co-Founder, Glass Lantern PR
There is simply no substitute for cultivating a list of reporters and bloggers who specialize in your field and writing them individually with your press release. Even better – include a mention of a recent article they wrote that was on the same topic as your press release.
-Stephanie Dube Dwilson, Author, Publicist, & Attorney, Stephanie Dube
If you’re talking about newswire services such as Business Wire, PR Newswire, or others I would typically go with PR Newswire since there have a close relationship with the world’s most noted media contact database, and their circuits are much more refined so you can do far more targeted distribution. That said, even when issuing over a wire service whichever one is chosen I also send directly to my own media list as well to ensure they saw the news and to have a deeper discussion to help secure more coverage and interviews.
-Erik Mason, CEO & Founder, RYSE Marketing & Communications
Timing is crucial when disseminating press releases to a large audience. You need to think logically about when the audience you’re targeting, whether it be reporters or readers, will be inundated with news and avoid that time period. Often, whatever hour of the day I see fit for the subject matter and industry that we are distributing a release on, I’ll send it at the 6th minute of the hour. For example, distributing a release on the wire at 1:06PM, will face far less competition than if you send it at 1:00PM with all of the other releases that are circulating.
-Jessica Camp, PR Associate, Blue Fountain Media
An old school technique I use for getting out press releases is to email the press release the day before under embargo to the core news outlets that cover my client company’s industry. The reason I do this is that because it gives the outlets the option of running a story based on the press release at the same time it’s on the wire. News outlets don’t want to look like they are being scooped—even by a company’s own press release, plus I achieve much more impact with the multiple, simultaneous hits.
-Derek Handova, freelance PR/writer/content marketer
It’s Your Turn: Do you have a press release distribution tip that we haven’t already shared? We’d love to hear it! Share it with us in the comments. If you are interested in learning how to send a press release with eReleases click here.