An effective way to distribute your press release is a two-pronged technique. This involves sending your release by email to your own ‘target press list’, plus submitting your release to a reputable online press release wire service. You should also include your release on your own or your client’s website under a dedicated ‘press’ section linked from the homepage including an archive of all releases plus up-to-date contact details for press enquiries.
Sending to your target press firstly involves creating the list. Think of all the newspapers, magazines, radio or TV programmes and websites that cover your industry. If your business is very regional – say a retail operation in one area – then you will need to focus on outlets such as local newspapers and radio in that region. You may find that if you work in a niche business-to-business (B2B) sector this will run to just a handful of trade magazines, a few websites and maybe a specialist section on one or two of the national newspapers.
Depending on the outlet, your list should contain the general newsdesk email address and/or the specific email address of the person responsible for covering your subject area (for example, if yours is a car business then you’d probably want the motoring correspondents).
Of enormous help in compiling press lists are media databases (ours is the ResponseSource Media Contacts Database) which can help you identify relevant outlets and allow you to download a press list or distribute directly from within the system. It is also very useful to include freelance journalists in your sector. Make sure to add the details of any journalist who responds to your release if they aren’t already on there, so that they get future releases (great PR is all about developing relationships).
Make sure everyone on your list is relevant – they work for titles and write about subjects that are consistent with the content of your press release. Spamming lots of journalists – the ‘spray and pray’ approach, is frowned upon and likely to damage relationships with journalists you might want to work with in the future. And it gives PR a bad name.
On the day you email your release out to your target press list (don’t forget it include it in the body text of the email and not as an attachment), submit it to a reputable online press release wire (like our ResponseSource Press Release Wire). Make sure your primary keyword is included in the body of the release and don’t forget to include your contact details at the bottom. Journalists like to be able to link from press releases to relevant information or source data so make sure you include a few relevant links. There are a number of press release wire services around – from the free to the very expensive. With free press release wires you tend to get what you pay for – they generally just stick the release up on one website and further distribution is limited or of poor quality.
Once your release is ‘out there’ it’s time to use social media for amplification. Share your release (use any images to good effect here) and links to supporting information or data. Following up with supporting material on social media can be effective as this may fuel hunger for your story among bloggers and journalists.
A note on timing: the specific day and time you choose to distribute your release can have a big influence on the results you get. If you have a specific media outlet that you really want to get coverage in, you may want to find out a little about their news cycle and work out the best time to send based on that. Print publications have a ‘press day’ which will be the final deadline for news – for these it is best to get the story to them early enough for them to include the story but not so early that the story feels ‘dated’ by press day, but not so late that the editor has already decided what’s going on the page. Other factors which influence timing is whether or not there are other big stories going on at the time, big events that tend to produce a lot of stories to compete with or very quiet times of the year where publications scale down. There is no exact science to this – but these are things to consider.
See the next in the series: press release writing and distribution – the follow-up
Check out all the posts in our full blog series on press release writing and distribution