The best way to send a press release is to personally send it to media outlets as well as syndicate it using an online service. This makes curating your own media list and selecting an online press release service important components of the five-step process. If done correctly, you’ll communicate your message to your intended audience.
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Here are the five steps needed to send a press release:
1. Build a Media List
A media list is a spreadsheet containing the contact information for media agencies in your niche. There are two sources to include in your media list—traditional news agencies and non-traditional ones. When building your media list, you typically want to identify and include only outlets that are most relevant your press release topic and desired audience, including their contact information.
Organize your list in a Google or Excel spreadsheet, making sure to include the name of the media agency, the name of your contact person, and the relevant number or email address. Try to find a single person within each organization—the one who is most likely to have an interest in your subject matter. This is because you’ll eventually reach out to these individuals and submit your press release for publication.
Here are the two types of media agencies and how to find their contact information:
Traditional News Agencies
A traditional news agency is a newspaper, television channel, or radio station, plus their associated websites. To build a media list with traditional news agencies in your niche, search for news agencies in your area. You can do this by searching a site like Hey.Press or by doing a simple Google search for “[your city and state] news.” The websites that appear in the search results are probably the most influential in your area.
For local businesses, any local news agency should be an ideal target for your press list. 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 subgroup. You can identify these specific outlets by refining your Google search or using the Hey.Press search bar on their homepage, plugging in relevant keywords. 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 it in your media list. Often, the website of the news agency will provide a list their journalists and the journalist’s area of expertise. Select the journalist who covers your area of expertise as your contact person. If you can’t find a contact listed online, call up the agency and ask them for the best person.
Non-traditional News Sources
Non-traditional news sources include Facebook groups, blogs, business networking organizations, Instagram accounts, and other informal groups. While these may not be official news networks, they are often more effective at getting the word out about local business news.
Here’s how to find some of these sources:
- Blogs: You can search for relevant blogs online using Google or via various niche industry lists, typically ranked by Alexa ranking or some other method of authority
- Facebook: Go to Groups → Search for your city name and find relevant groups
- Twitter: Search for your city name → Look at the profiles listed in the “Who to Follow” section
- Instagram (mobile): Search places → Near Current Location → Look at the “Top Posts” to find influential accounts for your area
Look at each news source to find out what kind of news they focus on. Often, non-traditional news sources cater to a specific topic interest group. Take the time to determine if each source is relevant to your PR topic and audience before reaching out to them. When you do reach out, you’ll use the message feature of whatever social media platform you’ve found them on or the contact form on the blog.
In my local area, for example, the Instagram account @GVLToday is one of the primary sources for learning about local business and goings-on. They stay tuned to tips, chatter, and, yes, press releases, for interesting information.
2. Research Submission Guidelines
Submission guidelines are a list of requirements specific to each news organization that tell you how you can submit your release. For the news agencies and journalists that you listed in your media list, search the website for a submission page. If the site is accepting submissions, there should be a link from the homepage, header or footer menu. Then, look over the submission guidelines to make sure you are following them.
Submission guidelines usually have two sections. First, the site will explain what kind of information the media agency is interested in, such as local events, scoops, tips, commentary from business leaders, and more. Second, they will provide the technical details about sending the release—word count, file type, submission type, etc. For an example of submission guidelines, look at the Greenville Journal submission page and submission guidelines page.
If you do not follow the submission guidelines, there’s a good chance your press release will not be accepted by the contact in your media list. If your press release is accepted, you may receive an email notification or an update, depending on how the site’s submission process works. It is important to make sure that the topic of your press release is aligned with the nature of your news sites.
If you can’t find a submission page or guidelines, then look for someone to contact directly. You can search LinkedIn to find the name of a reporter who works there and Hunter.io to find their contact information.
3. Submit the Press Release
Next, you will send your press release to each media outlet by reaching out to the correct person identified in step one (unless there’s a submission form) by following the correct guidelines determined in step two. Submitting the release usually involves emailing the press release to your contact at the news agency. If your press release is timely, such as the case with a grand opening, make sure you submit at least one to two weeks in advance.
Here’s how to structure a submission email:
- Subject line: You do not need to use the term “press release” in your subject line, but you should mention the topic of the release. (Example: “Important information about a Grand Opening on the 15th”)
- Greeting: Greet the journalist by name if you know their name. (Example: “Hello John”)
- First paragraph: If this is your first time reaching out to them, introduce yourself and your business. (Example: “My name is Chad, and I work for Game On, a local sports outfitter.”
- Second paragraph: Explain the purpose of your email and that you’re sending a press release. (Example: I’m writing to let you know about our grand opening, scheduled for May 20. I’ve attached a press release with details.”)
- Third paragraph: Call to action. Ask the journalist or news agencies to do something in response. Often, it helps to provide a compelling reason for them to take action. (Example: “Would you be willing to do a write-up on our opening in the weekend paper? This is the only sports outfitter to serve the tri-city area.”)
- Closing: Thank you and offer to provide further help. (Example: Thank you for considering. Please let me know if you’d like to discuss this further.)
Be sure to include your contact information, including phone number, in your email in case a journalist or reporter wants to get in touch with you for an interview or further discussion.
Submit your release to as many relevant media outlets as possible. In the early stages of building your PR and growing your media list, you may have only four to five contacts to whom you can submit your release. In a small community, this should be plenty. If you’re in a large urban area, however, you may want to build your media list over time to 20 to 50 contacts, distributing your press release to all the relevant contacts on your list.
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 literally 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.
4. Follow Up with Media Outlets
After you send the press release, personally call your contact at the news agency to inform them that you’ve sent the release and to share any details that could pique their curiosity. This involves picking up the phone, dialing their number, and speaking to them directly or leaving a voicemail. If you’ve sent via a submission form, look for a general phone number that you can call.
I recommend following up on two occasions—first, right after you send them the release, and second, three days after you send it. The second call should be positioned as a courtesy, asking if they have any questions or need any clarification on points in the press release.
Here is how you should structure each call:
- Call 1, immediately after sending: Let them know you’ve sent them an email and will be happy to stay in touch and answer any questions.
- Call 2, three days after sending: Make sure that they had a chance to look at your email, and ask them if they have any questions or would like to discuss further.
One reason I recommend following up with journalists is so that you can curate a relationship where they know your name, your business, and your character. Journalists are busy professionals, but they value personal relationships from trusted sources. Don’t be annoying, but try to be as helpful as possible as you form these relationships and follow up.
”I also 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, www.childira.com
5. Syndicate Using a Distribution Service
There is a wide array of services that will syndicate your press release across thousands of media outlets. This step often costs money and is optional, but recommended. Doing so will put your release in front of far more people and agencies, since PR services have relationships with thousands of journalists and media agencies.
Read our Best Press Release Distribution Services article to find a paid press release provider. Alternatively, if you’re on a budget, try one of the free services in our free press release distribution service guide.
For the instructions included here, we are using eReleases, the distribution service recommended by Fit Small Business. eReleases provides a 33 percent discount off your first press release. Standard prices are $399 for the basic press release package and up to $499 for the “PR Pro” package. After you create your account and select your package, you can hammer out your press release in just a few steps.
Here are the steps involved in sending a press release via eReleases:
1. Choose Your Targeting
By default, all press releases are sent to eReleases’ U.S. national distribution list. In addition, you can also target specific locations and/or industry groups. Choose “Select Industry & Local Area” to scroll these options. eReleases offers a huge range of industry-specific distribution networks. They also offer local distribution to all 50 states and many cities.
For example, a dental company could choose the subcategory “Medical – Dental.” This would distribute their story to at least 150-plus medical- and dental-specific publications, including American Journal of Dentistry and Oral Health.
Targets are included free with the “Buzz Builder,” “Newsmaker,” and “PR Pro” packages. Just note that you’ll have to pay an extra $100 for each additional target beyond what’s allotted by your package.
2. Select Your Release Date
Choose on the calendar when you’d like your press release to go out. By default, the next business day will be selected, but you can schedule a future date as well. You can distribute on the same day (within two hours of your order being placed) for an extra $100.
The most popular times to send press releases are Monday and Tuesday morning around 8 to 9 a.m. To make your press release standout, you may want to avoid these times and instead send your release later in the afternoon. It’s generally better to send your press release early in the week, since this gives publications time to read and consider your story before the weekend comes.
As Shift Communications points out, however, there’s lots of room to experiment. Sending a press release over the weekend will mean you have few other stories to compete with. On the other hand, journalists may ignore or forget stories that come in during off-hours.
3. Upload Your Press Release
The next step is to upload your press release text document. eReleases accepts .txt, .rtf, .doc and .docx. One of the perks of using eReleases is that they’ll read over your release and fix any typos. They’ll also make sure any hyperlinks are working.
Below your document, you’ll need to enter some of the basic details about your release, such as the dateline, media contact, phone number, etc. These are small but essential tidbits, as they’re needed for the standard press release format. eReleases ensures you don’t miss them by requiring these fields be populated. For more about these details, check out our guide to Press Release Formatting.
Finally, you can upload up to two images (with captions) at no extra charge. Images will appear on your release when it’s published on PRNewswire, one of eReleases syndication partners. For all other websites, however, they’ll appear as a link, unless you select the “Photo Embed” option for an extra charge.
4. Finalize Your Order
Before you submit your order, eReleases will offer a few more add-ons: Photo Embed ($150), which displays photos within your body text, and YouTube Embed ($200), which adds a YouTube video to your article. Remember, you can always link to photos and videos in your body text, so you don’t necessarily have to upgrade in order to share them. If your goal is to get a lot of views on your YouTube video, however, or to share a product photo, you should consider these upgrades.
Top 5 Press Release Distribution Tips
To score maximum exposure for your press release, you’ll have to do more than just send it to a few journalist friends. In a Fit Small Business article, we’ve assembled thirty press release distribution tips that will allow you to consistently gain massive visibility.
Here are some of the best press release distribution tips from that article:
- Easily find journalist information on Pressfarm, Anewstip or Muck Rack.
- Connect with journalists on a variety of platforms (e.g., Twitter) to help build long-term relationships.
- Try not to address your email “To Whom It May Concern.” It concerns a specific journalist, so find his or her name.
- Send your press release at a random time, like 1:06 p.m. Releases circulate on the hour, so choose a time that will give your release a better chance of standing out.
- Send a press release that correlates with local news events. Journalists are more likely to pick up on releases that fit in with other local happenings.
Be sure to check out the full list of press release distribution tips from PR pros for more information on how to make your press release stand out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Can You Send Press Releases 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.
How Do You Write an Email Introducing a Press Release?
When pitching a press release to an individual journalist or new agency, keep your request short. Follow this pattern: “My name is [Name] and I work in [relevant industry]. I’m sharing this press release about [a very relevant newsworthy topic], because I noticed [how relevant they are to the topic]. Would you consider publishing this the week of [date]?” Clarity, brevity, and straightforwardness are the best approach.
Should I Pay to Syndicate My Press Release?
If you can afford it and if your newsworthy event 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. Understanding how to send a press release doesn’t mean you have to pay for it.
The Bottom Line: How to Send a Press Release
Sending a press release is a solid marketing strategy, but many still wonder how to send a press release. Knowing how to do it is crucial. Cultivate a media list to which you can send your press release, then syndicate it online for as wide a distribution as possible.
Often, when wondering how to send a press release, paying for syndication is the best approach to ensure that your newsworthy event gets the attention it deserves. eReleases is one of the best press release platforms due to its ease of use and breadth of distribution. Sign up today to get the 33 percent discount.