To send a press release and secure coverage in relevant media, start by researching the primary outlets that serve your industry. Create your release, then submit it to each outlet manually. You can also distribute your release to a wider audience with a distribution service. Finally, nurture all placements via social media.
Here is how to submit your press release in seven steps:
1. Build a Media List
A media list contains the contact information for press contacts in your niche or industry. This includes traditional news outlets like radio and newspapers, and digital ones like blogs and social media influencers. Start by creating a spreadsheet with columns for the outlet name, a press contact, their contact information, and information about their audience. Use tools like LinkedIn and Google to find outlets in your industry, and then add outlet names, press contacts, and each outlet’s audience interests and demographics to your media list.
While you can use a paid press release distribution service to get your news in front of outlets, taking the time to build a media list organically gives you more control over who receives your stories. This will also allow you to build direct relationships with influencers, which can increase the chance your brand will be recognized and your story will be read and re-published.
Here are the two sources to use for building your media list:
Traditional News Agencies
A traditional news agency is a newspaper, television channel, or radio station, plus their associated websites. To build a media list of traditional news agencies, search for them in your area; you can do so on Google by searching “(your city and state) news.” Websites at the top of the search results are likely the most influential in your area. Do some reading on each to learn if they normally publish content about your press release’s topic.
For local businesses, a local news agency should be an ideal target. If your business is in a large geographic area, you may be able to find news organizations that cater to a specific industry or population subgroups. You can identify these specific outlets by refining your Google search using relevant keywords like “health news” or “financial news” and a location. You can also search for local news agencies in the U.S. using 50states.com.
Once you identify the relevant outlet, find the specific person within the organization who would be most likely to have an interest in your subject matter and include him or her in your media list. Often, the website of the news agency will provide a list of their media personnel and their areas of expertise. If not, use LinkedIn or call the agency to find the news outlet’s media personnel. Select the journalist who covers your area of expertise as your contact person.
Non-traditional News Sources
Non-traditional news sources include Facebook groups, blogs, business networking organizations, Instagram accounts, and other digital groups. While these may not be official news outlets, they are often more effective at getting the word out about local business news. Industry or local influencers often have large, highly engaged and focused audiences, so they’re a great way to create buy-in for your news among key target audience members.
Here are some of the top non-traditional news sources you should consider:
Search for relevant blogs online using Google and various niche industry lists. In Google, use a targeted search like “top (press release keyword) blogs” for best results. To ensure each blog’s reach, look for their domain authority using a ranking tool like Alexa ranking, which scores a website’s ability to rank from one to 100. Generally, blogs with a higher ranking reach more people. Visit the blog to make sure their content and messaging fits with your brand.
From the left sidebar menu of your profile page, click “Groups,” then search for your city name. Skim the available groups to see if any of them fit with your industry. Most of the time, anything posted in the group would need to be approved by the group’s admin, so be sure to add their names to your contact list. To find a list of group admins, click on the group name, then click “Members” from the left-hand menu.
If you have a Twitter account, you can easily search for your city name; review the accounts that come up to see if there are any users with a lot of followers who share content related to your industry and business. Also, look at the profiles listed in the “Who to Follow” section. Peruse their profiles to determine if they share content that relates to your press release topic. Make a list of those who do.
Instagram (Mobile Only)
On your feed page on Instagram, search your location, then the primary keyword in your press release. Look at the “Top Posts” to find influential accounts for your area. Add them to your list. Also look for Instagram news accounts. In Greenville, South Carolina, for example, the Instagram account @GVLToday is a primary source for learning about local businesses and goings-on.
“It’s worth putting in the time to find the right people to contact at the publications that are absolutely relevant to what you’re trying to promote. By doing this, not only do you ensure your press release goes to the right person, but you can also address your contact in your email and maybe reference why you feel they might be interested.”
— Rhea Freeman, PR & Social Media Consultant, Rhea Freeman PR
2. Follow Submission Guidelines
Submission guidelines are a list of requirements specific to each news organization covering how to submit a release. For news agencies and journalists you listed in your media list, search their websites for a submission page or contact us page; this will provide you with submission guidelines and an email address or form to use for submission. Review the guidelines carefully.
Once you have found submission guidelines, review them carefully. They often highlight topics the agency is interested in, such as local events, scoops, tips, and commentary from business leaders. They will also provide the technical details about sending the releases, including their preferred word count and file type. Review your press release to ensure it fits within these guidelines and make changes as necessary.
Pro tip: If you haven’t yet written your press release, read our ultimate guide on how to write a press release and download the template to get started.
3. Write a Submission Email & Send It With Your Press Release
Next, send your release to each outlet by reaching out to the contact identified in step one via email (unless there’s a submission form). If your press release is timely, such as the case with a grand opening, submit it at least one to two weeks in advance. In your email, indicate who you are, what business you’re associated with, that you’re submitting a press release, and that you’d like the journalist to consider writing about it.
To write your submission email, greet the journalist by name. In the first paragraph, very briefly introduce yourself and your company using one to two sentences. Your second paragraph should explain that you are sending a press release and when the story can be released (release date).
Conclude your body paragraphs with what you want the journalist to do with your release and a compelling reason for them to follow through. Remember that a journalist’s primary concern is meeting the needs of their audience, so this compelling reason to follow through should directly affect whether their audiences will find the news important or valuable.
Finally, your closing should include your contact information, offer to answer questions as needed, and a signature line. Your signature can include both standard signature information and contact information, such as your full name, title, phone number, and email address. Finally, copy and paste the text of your press release below your signature line. Don’t forget to attach your multimedia to your email.
A submission email template would look like the following:
Dear [Journalist’s Name],
My name is [your name] and I am sending this email on behalf of [company]. I am writing to share a press release with you regarding [topic of press release] to be released on [release date]. You can read the release below.
This news would be important to your audience because [offer a compelling statistic or reason why this would directly affect the journalist’s audience].
Would you share this news with your audience so they can [include an action like attending the event you’re hosting or buying your book, or how they can benefit from learning about your story]?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly if you have further questions about this story.
Thank you for your consideration.
[Your Full Name]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email Address]
Submit your release to as many relevant media outlets as possible. Remember that news agencies are used to fielding hundreds of press releases. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t receive a response. Journalists and news agencies receive thousands of press releases on a weekly basis. It’s impossible for them to reply to each one, let alone announce them on their website or news publication. This is why following up is important.
Pro tip: When sending press releases to outlets or individual journalists, it is also a good idea to include a press kit along with your press release. This kit is a document that includes important facts about your business and relevant contact information, as well as supporting images and headshots that will save time later.
4. Follow Up With Media Outlets
Right after you send your press release, personally email your contact to inform them you’ve sent the release and to share any details that could pique their curiosity. Tell them you’re available to answer further questions.
If you’ve submitted your release using a form, look for a general phone number to call. Follow up three days after your initial call and tell them you just wanted to make sure they had a chance to look at your press release. Then ask them if they have any questions or would like to discuss it further. Position each call as a courtesy call.
”I try to meet face to face with the editor (preferably) or the individual reporter and try to find out what kind of stories they most enjoy writing about as well as—and this may be more important—what stories their readers most want to read. Then I provide them with those story ideas. You can offer to meet at lunch, but expect to go Dutch in keeping with journalism ethics.”
— Chris Carosa, CTFA, Financial Advisor, Child IRA
5. Syndicate Using a Distribution Service
A press release distribution service allows you to submit a press release to be instantly sent to hundreds or thousands of reporters, journalists, blogs, influencers, and news outlets. These can be sent via permanent placement on a news wire, direct email to journalists or influencers, and distribution on targeted social media handles. Distribution plans range from $99 to $500 and often include distribution to a set number of outlets as well as the ability to add multimedia, expert reviews, and analytics reports.
To syndicate a release, select a provider and plan, a release date, and a target audience (an industry, location, or demographic, for example). Then, upload your release and multimedia. Finally, follow the prompts to pay for and finalize your order. From there, depending on your plan or selected services, you may collaborate with a press release writer or editor to create a polished, effective piece for distribution. Once the service has distributed your release, most provide reports to help you track where your release was published.
For more information on how to choose the right press release distribution service for your business, read our best press release distribution service buyer’s guide.
6. Promote Your Release on Social Media
Once you’ve sent your press release and it has been published on major publication sites or among key influencers, it’s time to follow up to ensure these placements boost your credibility among your current social followers and target markets. To do so, share links to articles that have been published on high-profile sites about your story and advertise them on social media. Also, post a synopsis of your release and share it on your website alongside social share buttons.
Here’s how to earn social media engagement and shares for your press release:
Share Key Placements on Social Media
Start by visiting your distribution service dashboard to determine where your press release was published; most will include a regularly updated list of press release placements. You can then visit the sites directly and see the links for your specific press release.
Copy the link for each outlet where your press release is published and share it on your social media channels. This helps build brand credibility and increases the exposure of the news you shared in your press release. In addition, if the syndication service you used also targeted industry influencer social media feeds, learn who shared them and reshare them. This helps to gain credibility among those who follow social influencers.
Pro tip: Advertise key placements on social media. Do so by boosting your posts via social media advertising. Facebook and Instagram advertising costs, on average, $1.86 per click for most businesses and can be set to reach key target audiences across both platforms. For a step-by-step guide on how to get started, read our guide on Facebook advertising.
Create a Shareable Website Post
While publishing your release on your website in its entirety could be detrimental to your Google ranking—as it would be seen as duplicate content—you can write a synopsis of your release and publish it along with a link to the full release on a major publication’s site. Not only does the association with a major publication increase your brand credibility, but it makes your synopsis more shareable. Be sure to add social media share buttons for easy sharing.
“The best way to follow up a big press release is to make sure you’re staying active on social media. In doing this, you’re more likely to gain an active following and have real interactions with your audiences. Within this, most social media platforms will look at the interactions within a certain time frame; the more interactions, the higher up the post will go and the more coverage you’ll get. You’re essentially riding a wave of popularity.”
— Charlie Worrall, Digital Marketing Executive, Imaginaire Digital
7. Use Press Release Analytics to Track Performance
Once you’ve made the investment to distribute a press release, make it worth it by tracking its performance. Doing so can reveal insights like if you are meeting the business goals you set for your release, where to promote your release, who to target with retargeting campaigns, and how to craft winning press releases in the future based on what you did and did not do correctly with this one.
Most distribution services offer, at a minimum, a dashboard where you can track basic press release analytics metrics such as where your release was published, the size of its potential audience, and the industry each placement targeted. But some services go more in-depth, tracking metrics such as where press release readers are located, readers’ demographics and interest, and even engagement metrics like video plays and internal link clicks.
To learn how to track your press release analytics, read our ultimate guide on press release analytics.
3 Best Press Release Distribution Services 2020
Press release services for small businesses usually range anywhere from $89 for basic publication of the release on a syndication website to $500 for advanced targeting, wide distribution, and add-ons. For example, high-tier plans might include multimedia inclusions, search engine optimization features, professional press release reviews, and writing services.
Here are the three best press release distribution services for small businesses in 2020:
1. Send2Press: Best for Direct-to-Editor Press Release Distribution & Writing Services
Send2Press offers release distribution and writing services starting at just $89 per release. It stands out by offering direct-to-editor distribution, meaning each release that is sent by email is highly targeted and welcomed by receiving journalists, so your release isn’t sent to spam folders. To further ensure a welcome reception by journalists, their writing services are performed by accredited public relations (PR) professionals so you know the release you send is of quality. Visit Send2Press to get started.
2. eReleases: Best for Affordable Press Release Writing & Distribution
eReleases offers press release distribution starting at $299 for 400 words and one image; distribution among news outlets, bloggers, radio stations, and television networks; and analytics. They stand out by offering a combination package where they expertly write an industry-specific press release for you and distribute it starting at $599, making it best for companies needing a hands-off approach to release management. Visit eReleases for more information.
3. PRWeb: Best for Affordable Multichannel Distribution
With plans ranging from $99 to $389 per release, PRWeb stands out by offering multichannel distribution at competitive prices. Starter plans allow you to publish your release on the PRWeb website, while their premium plan allows you to distribute a press release to search engines, hundreds of media partner websites, and industry-specific influencer Twitter feeds and blogs. Visit their website to sign up with PRWeb.
Bonus: PR Newswire: Best for Advanced Targeting
Offering press release distribution starting at $350 with a $195 yearly membership fee, PR Newswire boasts a distribution network 4,000 websites, 3,000 media outlets, 550 news content systems, and 9,000 media organizations. They offer robust analytics and targeting by industry, geography, and influencers, as well as gender, lifestyle, religion, interest, and language. They are best for businesses needing advanced targeting. Learn more about PR Newswire.
For a more extensive press release distribution buyer’s guide, read our article on the best press release services.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some common press release distribution mistakes small businesses make?
The first common small business press release distribution mistake is not targeting a press release. A press release that is not targeted often ends up in the spam folders of journalists, meaning it is never viewed by audiences that can help you meet your business goals. This means wasted effort and money and unmet business goals.
Once you have targeted your release, make it easy for journalists to follow through with publishing even on a tight deadline by including all the elements they will need to publish your release successfully. If you’ve read the news or influencer content lately, you know including visual content is a key way journalists and influencers increase engagement in their stories. So, add multimedia to help them do so upfront. Including multimedia upfront could mean the difference between your story getting published and being ignored when journalists are working on tight deadlines.
Finally, many small businesses think press release distribution is a set-it-and-forget-it deal. But, like any marketing campaign, tracking your press release performance shows you how effective your release was in helping you meet business goals and how to remarket your news for added traction.
Where can you submit a press release for free?
There are a number of free press release distribution sites. Although options, quality, and distribution aren’t as good as a paid service, they are an option if you’re on a budget. Check out our article on the best free press release distribution services for our full list of recommendations.
Should I pay to syndicate my press release?
If you can afford it and if your news warrants it, you should consider paying $200 to $400 to syndicate a release. If you’re simply installing a new awning on your storefront, it’s probably not necessary. But if you’re opening four new offices in your region, it may be worth the cost—earned foot traffic alone should offset syndication costs. You should determine if the likely return on investment would justify the cost.
How do you write an email introducing a press release?
When pitching a release, keep your request short. Start your email by giving your full name and the industry you work in. Share that you are submitting a release and the general news it covers. Explain that, since your recipient generally covers news in your field or industry, you hope they will consider publishing your release. Then, indicate the desired publication date for your release. Offer your contact information and let them know you’re available to answer questions.
When is the best time to send my press release?
Statistically, the best time to send a press release is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays. Editors open one-third of all their emails at this time. Sending it then helps to keep it from getting buried under other emails before the editor has a chance to see it. And, the best days of the week to send them are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with Thursday being the day you’re most likely to receive the highest open rates.
To send a press release, build a contact list of journalists, blogs, and influencers. Find the submission guidelines for each source and email addresses for the ideal recipients of your release. Then, submit your release via email or an online form (if available) and follow up to answer your contact’s questions. Next, use a distribution service to syndicate your release to a wider, targeted audience. Finally, promote your press release on social media.