One of the most effective ways to share exciting news about your company is by distributing a press release to get media coverage. To offers ideas on how to creatively pitch to the media, we asked top public relations (PR) professionals to share their favorite press release distribution tips to stand out and get coverage.
Here are the top 35 press release distribution tips from the pros.
Marc Prosser, Chairman & Chief Revenue Officer, Fit Small Business
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 to more than 5,900 publications via the Associated Press and PR Newswire networks as well as its own network of sites. Check it out today and save 33% on your first release.
2. Know Where to Find Journalists’ Contact Information
Nora Leary, Co-founder, Head of Marketing & Business Development, Launchway Media
If you’ve identified the publication and the section you want to pitch your story to and are just missing the correct journalist contact information, you can use a limited free version of one of the sites below to find it. Each of these services allows you to look up email addresses and phone numbers for a few free contacts to try out. Press.Farm, MuckRack, and hey.press are good places to start.
3. Don’t Email Blast Your Press Release
Hannah Holden, Director, Olu & Company
Small business owners mistakenly believe that sending their press release to the greatest number of people possible — journalists and non-journalists alike — is the best way to increase the likelihood that they will get “picked up” by the media.
To be more effective, small business owners should try sending their press release to a few dozen journalists who have recently covered similar stories in their local paper or trade magazine. They should send the release at least a few weeks in advance of whatever is described in the release like a new product, service, or an event.
4. Build Long-term Relationships With Journalists
Aaron Norris, MBA, APR, Vice President, The Norris Group
Get serious about building relationships with journalists and influencers in your industry. In the real estate industry, for example, Twitter is not mainstream. However, we leverage Twitter for sourcing news for our blog and relationship-building with government agencies, journalists, and writers.
I put contacts in lists, include their stories in our blog posts, retweet their work, and I also capture their contact information and connect with them on other social platforms. When I do have something important to reach out about with these contacts, the goal is for them to see my email and say, “Oh, I know this guy” — with a positive undertone. This is a long-term relationship-building strategy — one that your competitors are unlikely to follow.
Diana Bourgeois, Real Estate Marketing Writer, Fit Small Business
Newswire is well-known for offering the best customer service in the PR industry. It will help you create your press release, assist with editing, and even work with you to determine which distribution package fits your needs the best. If you are new to sending press releases, Newswire is a great place to start because it offers such customized support and guidance. Check it out today.
6. Write Your Release Like It Will Be Printed Verbatim
Tom Skelley, Account Manager, Evolution Communications Agency
Always write your release as if you intend for it to be picked up word-for-word. I was a reporter before working in communications and saw at least a dozen clumsy, hastily-composed releases a week, and I usually closed the email after two sentences.
7. Follow Your Press Release With a Free Sample
Harold Nicoll, APR, Nicoll Creations
Most public relations people will send an email, and that is fine. But what I have started doing is following up with the contacts who open my releases 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.
8. Write a Strong Headline
James M. Chittenden, CEO, Triumph Business Communications
Reporters and editors at large media outlets may receive hundreds of press releases every day. Most of them are treated as spam because they are written like sales pitches and have little relevance to what a reporter needs. You have a very brief opportunity to catch a reporter’s attention, so a way to maximize your chances of getting noticed is to write a strong headline. It should say a lot in eight words or fewer. The headline should be in the subject line if you are contacting the newsroom via email.
9. Think Small for Big Results
Melanie Downey, Brand Innovator, Melanie Downey
Everyone wants to be in the national news, but don’t discount smaller, local, and even weekly newspapers. Why? You already have one of the main things they look for in stories: a local angle. There’s also less PR competition, which makes it easier to pitch the reporter as long as you have a great story. You also have a greater chance of the journalist including a photo, which makes it easier to catch the eyes of readers.
Plus, 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.
10. Edit Your Press Release a Few Times
Amore Phillips, Director of Business Development, Apples and Oranges PR
Read your releases at least two times. Edit and cut unnecessary content. If it is not needed, do not include it. You are sending your press release to people who are contacted several hundred times a day, so brevity is your friend.
11. Include Interesting Details — Not Just Stats
Jonathan Long, Editor, Yes Magazine
When was the last time you read a press release that blew your socks off? I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess your answer: “Not in a very long time, if ever.”
Most press releases are boring fluff made up of a few company statistics mixed in with equally boring quotes. If you craft your pitch to sound like a press release, don’t expect a response. A short pitch packed with details that gets right to the point wins every time.
12. Pair the Press Release With a Media Drop
Jessica Moran, Director of Marketing & Communications, Strain Point
My most successful recent pitches have been “media drops,” which entails dropping a product off at the journalist’s studio, radio or TV station, or newsroom, together with the press release and background information materials.
13. Put Out a Press Release about an eBook
Jennifer Vanderslice, Owner & Publicist, MoonGlow PR
My greatest press tip to small business owners would be to write a book. It doesn’t have to be very long. Write about what you know and about your business. Write a book about the top 10/25/50 questions you get asked about your industry and publish it as an e-book on Amazon. Put out a press release announcing your new book and advertise it on your website. It will give your business more credibility and confirm to people that you are the expert in your field.
14. Don’t Write a Sales Pitch
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 grammatical mistakes. If it is poorly written and lacks real value, it won’t matter who you send it to because it will go straight into the trash bin.
15. Suggestion a Specific Section for Your News
Meredith Liepelt, Owner, Rising Star Publicity
Give editors a suggestion for where your news may fit in their publication. This demonstrates that you know something about the media outlet and aren’t just spamming them with your press release. If you show how your press release is relevant to or of interest to them, they are more likely to cover you.
16. Make the Journalist’s Job Easier
James Nuttall, Content & Outreach Specialist, Cuuver
Do as much of the work for the journalist as you possibly can. Journalists receive hundreds of emails and story pitches every single day. Often, you’re lucky if they even read your email. For this reason, you need to make it as easy for them to digest your story as possible. Give your email an eye-catching title to grab their attention and provide a brief synopsis of the story and why it is relevant to that journalist’s publication. It’s a good idea to paste the press release into the body text of the email so the journalist can read it without having to download the document. You should also attach all the relevant imagery and press info.
17. Always Follow Up on Your Press Release
Kelly Main, Marketing Writer, Fit Small Business
Following up on a release with an email can help get a story picked up if the initial release didn’t get a bite from the journalist you hoped to hook. Make it short and sweet and don’t rehash every detail from the release. Your goal should be to remind them of the release they already read and let them know the opportunity to cover it is still there if they’re interested.
18. Don’t Send Your Release on the Hour
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, I’ll send [press releases] at the sixth minute of the hour. For example, distributing a release on the wire at 1:06 p.m. will face far less competition than if you send it at 1:00 p.m. with all of the other releases that are circulating.
19. Find a Good ‘Hook’ to Get Their Attention
Rhonda Rees, Owner, Rhonda Rees Public Relations Company
I have had success in gaining press release coverage by coming up with the right angle or “hook” to ignite the interest of the media — starting with the title. Tying something into a news-making headline, holiday theme, or other topic of interest has always been a plus. I then tailor-make media lists by hand-selecting categories and personalizing which editor, producer, or other booking contact is the appropriate fit.
20. Segment Your Distribution List
Thomas J. Madden, CEO, TransMedia Group
To avoid making an uninspiring impression [on media outlets], use a “patterned release,” which simply targets journalists in a particular market by sending a release directly to the journalists who would most likely be interested in that particular story.
To do this effectively, you need to deploy a service like Cision to get email addresses and breakdowns of areas of interest so that you can send a release directly to the right person at the local print and broadcast media outlet, in addition to your normal digital rollout.
21. Send Your Press Release Using Email Marketing Software
Matthew Steffen, President, Matthew Steffan, Inc
Go online and visit your local media sites and copy their emails and first names into an Excel sheet. 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.
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. You can also A/B split test your emails to see which subject lines have higher open rates.
22. Use Local Community News as Your Angle
Rob Pasquinucci, Sr. PR & Content Strategist, Intrinzic Brands
The key is to spend some time absorbing the news in your community and finding ways your business can fit into the stories of the day. Was there a huge storm that just passed through? An insurance agency can talk to reporters about how to file claims or make sure you have coverage for the next weather event. A tree service can discuss the best way to get broken limbs off your property safety. A roofing contractor can discuss why your roof should be inspected to look for hidden damage. The key is to offer the reporter an expert source who can add depth to the story and tips their readers and viewers can use.
23. Think Outside the Box
David Mercer, Founder, SME Pals
Not every business is exciting for everyone. It can be harder to get media coverage working in sanitation than it can in celeb gossip, for example. However, 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 like individuals, companies, and organizations in your industry. Self-promotion will be duly ignored by almost every quality journalist. But, be sure to mention yourself in the press release, such as for more information, as a source, and so on.
24. Pitch a Story, Not a Press Release
Eleana Collins, Director of Client Services, Grafik
For starters, you’ll have the most success if you pitch a story, not a press release. When you’re pitching media, you’re pitching to real people who have writing interests, beats, and topics they like to cover. So, while your press release should provide all the details about your announcement, your “pitch” should be tailored to the reporter and explain how your story meets their interests.
25. Engage With Journalists on Twitter
Lexie Smith, Vice President of Business Development, GeoLinks
The majority of relevant journalists today can be found on Twitter actively sharing industry trends, news, and thoughts. While 280 characters doesn’t leave a lot of room for “fluff,” it forces publicists to create a hyper-focused, creative, and straightforward message that can be seen not only by the journalist but also by their entire follower base. Better yet, pitch when replying to one of their relevant Tweets. Make a pitch public, and you’d be surprised how quickly others may respond.
26. Research the Outlets to Which You Distribute Release
Jamie Bonnema, Public Relations Specialist, Bremen High School District 228
News outlets and reporters get hundreds of press releases and pitches a day. I find I have the best luck getting my release/story covered when I find a journalist or outlet who is passionate about writing on the topic or who covers similar stories. It takes time to research reporters and find their contact information, but in the long run, it will help you build relationships with them. They will come to understand that you are a person they can go to for stories on certain topics.
27. Thank Journalists for Covering Your News
Robyn Lanci, Owner, Owl PR
After the story has run, make a point to thank the journalist for featuring your company or client. You can use this opportunity to inquire about what else they’re working on and possibly assist again. Always keep the dialog open. Once a strong relationship has been formed, you may have that journalist coming to you because you’ve earned their trust as a valuable resource.
28. Package Your Press Release in a Creative Way
Stephanie Clarke, Associate Vice President, General Manager Arizona, Havas PR
Be creative and don’t be afraid to try something that might seem outside of the “norm.” Remember, editors and writers are getting pitched hundreds, if not thousands, of press releases a day, which makes finding a way to make yours stand out the key. Before determining what exactly it is that will set your press release apart, know your audience and know whose attention you’re trying to grab.
For example, we were pitching a summer concert series on behalf of one of our clients. Instead of sending out a media alert, we designed an oversized concert ticket and incorporated the information within. It ended up being a fun and an attention-grabbing way to relay the news — and got great coverage too.
29. Personalize the Emails You Send
Paul O’Meara, Partner, Jupiter Compass
When you share your news, send multiple emails of the same press release, but list only one editor at a time. I have found that having a personalized touch to something, even as small as sending individual press releases, makes a large difference.
30. Organize Your Press Release Around Business-related Holidays
Rachel Fullan, Marketing Director, LyncServe
Every day is a holiday. It really is. Do a quick search online and identify “holidays” that make sense for your business. An Italian restaurant may want to do something special for National Pizza Day (February 9), National Pasta Day (October 17), and National Lasagna Day (July 29), for example. Next, create fun and engaging promotions around the holiday. For example, on National Pizza Day, invite kids in to make their own pizza.
Write a press release announcing the event and take photos during the fun to send them to media afterward with a photo caption — just be sure to get photo releases signed by parents of young children. Your cleverly created event can be promoted with a press release sent to media, a dedicated email sent out to an email list, and stories on social media channels.
31. Don’t Be Intrusive When Doing Your Follow Ups
Sarah Johnson, Public Relations Specialist, Fit Small Business
Keep phone calls to a minimum. Journalists are busier than ever and typically have little to no time to hear your pitch over the phone. No journalist ever wants to hear, “Did you read my press release?” If you write a clever, succinct, topical pitch, that will hopefully generate a positive response from the media.
32. Monitor Trending Topics & Buzzwords
Maria Canul, Media Relations Strategist, PRx Digital
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 searches using these topical keywords, you will increase the visibility of any release.
33. Send Individual Emails — Not an Email Blast
Kiah Treece, Marketing & Real Estate Writer, Fit Small Business
It’s always tempting to send out your press release via a group email, but journalists prefer to get emails addressed only to them. Take the time to send individual emails to each journalist on your distribution list, use each person’s name, and include a brief introduction that shows you know the person and his or her media outlet. This will help you get press coverage.
34. Only Release Real News
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 doing yourself a disservice. Eventually, when you have a story to tell, journalists will tune you out.
The most important part of a successful press release is that it is newsworthy and a compelling news story that 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?
35. Optimize Your Press Release With Keywords
Kent Lewis, President & Founder, Anvil
To get the best results from your press release, you will want to optimize it for keywords that apply to your business or the news you are putting out. Make sure the keyword or phrase you’d like to rank for is incorporated into the press release headline and throughout the body copy.
The Bottom Line
Writing and distributing a press release can get your small business news coverage by media outlets and journalists. But getting the attention of the media with a press release is difficult. Consider using some of the tips above — like only sending newsworthy press releases, addressing emails to specific journalists, and being creative in your approach — to get the best results from sending press releases.
Getting your press release to the journalist that will be most likely to publish it can be overwhelming and confusing. With a good press release distribution service, you can avoid the time-consuming process of building your own media contact list. eReleases can provide your business with easy access to journalists and websites that you may not be able to otherwise reach on your own for an affordable price.