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 article, we asked some of the top PR professionals in the industry to share their favorite press release distribution tips with us. Read on for the full list.
Marc Prosser, co-founder of Marc Waring Ventures
Your press release isn’t going to do anything for you unless you can get it in front of people who will cover it. That’s why we recommend eReleases, which can distribute your release via the Associated Press and PR Newswire networks, as well as their own network of sites. They’re the lowest cost way we’ve found to get AP wire distribution, which is why they’re our PR service of choice for small business owners. Click here to save 30% on your first order and get your press release in front of real journalists.
Kelly C. Coughlin, President, Annex Communication
First and foremost, the press release itself needs to be composed as being “newsworthy.” Marketing and advertising are what you as a company say about yourself, and press is what others say or reprint about you. The release should have some kind of news or official announcement perspective that allows a journalist to see if the subject matter is relevant to their beat of reporting. Before putting out the release, also consider the current news cycle and if the announcement has some relevance in current reporting.
Jennifer Fortney, President, Cascade PR
When you send press releases out just because you think you should, you can create a “crying wolf” scenario. By bombarding media with press releases that lack impactful news stories, hoping to create awareness, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. Eventually, when you really have a story to tell, journalists will have already tuned you out.
The most important part of a successful press release is that it is really newsworthy and a compelling news story journalists want to tell. Use facts and statistics in the lead paragraph to set up the importance of the story. Define the “why” – why is this so important to the industry, community, or consumers’ lives?
Melanie Downey, Brand Innovator and PR Expert
Everyone wants to be in the national news, but don’t discount your smaller, local, even weekly newspapers. Why?
- You already have one of the main things they look for in stories: a local angle. And there’s less PR competition, which makes it easier to pitch the reporter (as long as you have a great story!)
- You have a greater chance of a bigger story, and of the journalist including a photo (which makes it easier to catch the eyes of readers).
- Larger media outlets often look to the smaller ones for story ideas. One story in a small newspaper could turn into a segment on national television.
Harold Nicoll, APR, Nicoll Creations
Most public relations people will make a phone call, and that is fine. But what I have started doing is following up with the media who open the releases I send and offer them a free sample of whatever I am promoting. I’ve done this successfully with men’s underwear, sports medicine, and organic personal care items. Writers will contribute reviews and add your goods to their gift guides.
David Mercer, Founder, SME Pals
Not every business is exciting to everyone. It can be harder to get media coverage working in sanitation than it can in celeb gossip. But just because it is harder doesn’t make it impossible. Be creative in the way you approach the ordinary aspects of your niche industry. Take your time thinking outside the box. Find something or someone interesting to talk about – especially if it involves other people. Don’t talk about yourself.
A press release can be about interesting players (individuals, companies, organizations, etc.) in your industry. Self-promotion will be duly ignored by almost every quality journalist. But, be sure to mention yourself in the press release (i.e. for more information, as a source, etc).
Hannah Moore, Digital Marketing Supervisor, Tiger Sheds
Journalists are very busy and get a lot of emails daily, so sending them attachments with huge images within could crash their server.
- Using a catchy headline. You want to grab the journalists attention as soon as they see the email pop up so think of something that would grab your attention.
- Building a rapport is key. When distributing press releases, you will more than likely distribute them to the same people, especially for local press. So make sure to build a rapport with the first person you come into contact with. Try to be a little more personal within the email, more chatty and relaxed rather than overly formal.
Robin Kelman Roberts, Executive Vice President, Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations
Don’t think of the “low hanging fruit” (publications with a limited audience) as unworthy. You never know whose hands the information is going to fall into. You may just end up gaining a new partner for the company you are representing. Also, another site or writer could read the release and contact you for additional information and also post the news.
Jeremy Marsan, Fit Small Business
As a reseller of top-tier distribution services (like PRNewswire), eReleases allows small businesses to get their story on many major websites for a modest one-time fee. They also have highly attentive support for customers new to PR.
View our guide on how to send a press release to learn more.
Niraj Ranjan Rout, CEO, Hiver
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, and 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.
Ty Mays, Founder & Lead Strategist, Perfect Pitch Public Relations
While newswires and online distribution platforms can help increase visibility, it’s also 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.
Dee Donavanik, Senior Manager, Scott Circle
Make sure all of the relevant information is front and center for your audience. There is no need to bury the lede, be verbose, or talk about how something is the best, most unique, super innovative, etc. Make sure your contact info can easily be found so that a reporter can follow up if needed. Don’t make any extra work for them. If the information is clear, simple, and relevant to a reporter’s beat, then they are much more likely to use your information if you just get to the point.
Gary Frisch, Swordfish Communications
When I’m sending a release to a list of under 40 or so, which is fairly typical for my clients, I do an individualized e-mail for each. I create a final “template” e-mail and send it to myself, then I forward that e-mail to each recipient. This gives me the ability to customize the subject line – localizing it a bit more, for example – and I can make edits to the release itself to make it more relevant to the individual outlet if necessary. I think I get better responses this way, since the e-mails don’t have the telltale signs of a mass mailing.
Kristine Tanzillo, President, Dux Public Relations
Distribution is important, but having a real news story and a well written release is even more important. Your release shouldn’t be a sales pitch, and it should be free of spelling and grammar mistakes. If it is poorly written and lacks news value, it won’t matter who you send it to because it will go straight to the trash bin.
Rebecca Epperson, Founder & President, Chartwell Agency
While (perhaps) useful in your industry, jargon or acronyms just add time to the reporter’s already overwhelmed day to look up their meaning and purpose – especially as it relates to their story. The only stipulation I would make on this is if you are developing a release specifically to trade or industry media which know your lingo as well as you do, but don’t make assumptions they are as up to date as you are. There might be a new person on the beat or the term may have various connotations. The clearer the better.
Janet Tirado, Public Relations Specialist, PrimePay
My piece of advice relates to building relationships. By becoming a reliable source, reporters will turn to you first when on deadline as they know that you will come through for them. This has several advantages including:
- Raising your credibility, your company’s credibility, and your SME’s credibility.
- Saving reporters time spent looking for sources when they have you in hand.
- Getting media placements without having to do the heavy lifting since the media already has the angle and much of the research covered.
Sandra Nomoto, President, Conscious Public Relations Inc.
News releases are fast becoming a thing of the past in the PR practice. Our agency has been successful in getting our clients’ stories coverage without news releases in two ways.
- We recommend forming relationships (online and offline) with the media and influencers most likely to tell the company’s story.
- Once the company has news to share with the public, we recommend sending a short e-mail pitch, ideally 3 sentences long, explaining why the media outlet or influencer’s readers, viewers, or listeners should care.
Debbie Goetz, President, Debbie Goetz Media Connections, LLC
Don’t blindly pitch a journalist without knowing if your pitch is relevant to what they write about.
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.
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.
Robert Barrows, R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations
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.
Matthew Steffen, President, Imprinsic Marketing Group
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, 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 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.
Judy Crockett, Interactive Marketing & Communication
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.
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.
Glenn Cipolla, Senior Partner, VP Technology, and Czar of PR, INTAP
Always follow SSI – Simple, Sexy, Informative. Too many press releases are long and boring. Make them quick to the point, informative without information overload, and of course sexy.
Maria Canul, Media Relations Strategist, PRx Digital
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 (be wary of using too much jargon though). By optimizing your press releases for software searches, as well as traditional search engines, you will increase visibility of any release.
Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing
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 maybe of interest to them due to their previous story, they are more likely to cover you.
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.
25. Shift your thinking on press release distribution: It’s not a blast, it’s a conversation starter.
Daniel K. Lobring, Managing Director, rEvolution
My tip for press release distribution is to 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 with in a non-salesy way.
26. Always add a piece of engaging information that distinguishes your company, service, or product from others in the market.
Brenden R. Crampton, CPA, Access Street
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. It will set you apart from competitors.
Joshua Kail, Co-Founder, Glass Lantern PR
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 a 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.
Stephanie Dube Dwilson, Author, Publicist, & Attorney, Stephanie Dube
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.
Randy Mitchelson, APR, VP Sales and Marketing, iPartnerMedia, Inc.
If the news release is about an event, it is important to include a link to a Facebook event page. Most publications, especially daily ones, have digital versions via mobile app and web and love to have digital content to go along with the written word. Also, if it is a repeating event, include a link to a photo or two from the previous event. Host the image (use Google Drive or Dropbox or similar) and provide a sharable link rather than insert a large file attachment(s) to an email which could be blocked by an email server.
Jessica Camp, PR Associate, Blue Fountain Media
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 1:06 pm will face far less competition than if you send it at 1:00 pm with all of the other releases that are circulating.
31. Send under embargo to the core news outlets first.
Derek Handova, freelance PR/writer/content marketer
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 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.
Brock Cooper, Profitable Prose
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, release, and contact info. If you have one publication you really want to appear in, then 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.
Over to You
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 section below.
If you are interested in learning how to send a press release with eReleases click here.