You’ve identified your news story and you’ve written your press release, and you’re convinced it’s a cracker. That’s the easy bit done, and now you’re faced with the hard task of placing it. You have a number of options open to you from newswires to press release distribution sites, but unfortunately in PR, as in real life, there are no shortcuts and nothing will ever replace good old fashioned hard work. However, if good old fashioned hard work is not for you, here are some ways you can waste your time, piss off journalists and even throw away some hard earned cash in the process.
Send a mail merge to a long list of journalists
One way to get your release in front of the media is to mail it out en masse to journalists. When we say ‘in front of the media’, we mean ‘to fleetingly pass through the inboxes of a large number of journalists before being quickly ignored, deleted or blocked.’ And here is some “BREAKING NEWS” for you: your press release is boring to nearly every single journalist that wont even look at it! Quite frankly journalists have better things to do than wait around to be bcc’d into untargeted media release emails even if “better things to do” means staring out the window watching the traffic.
Post it on free press release distribution sites
There are heaps of free press release distribution sites, the vast majority of which are a massive waste of your precious browsing minutes. The only people who visit them are usually doing so in desperation to upload their media releases for tiny splash of ‘coverage’, so if your target audience is the most incompetent junior marketing executives at your most ineffective competitors, then you have a small chance of reaching them through free press release distribution sites.
Why are these sites such a load of tosh? Surely posting your press release on a free site is better than nothing? Well, maybe, but only marginally. We know that:
Only 5% will get your release onto Google News.
Only half end up in Google’s search index (i.e. the page on which the release has been posted is indexed by Google and shows up in web search results).
Not a single one will be picked up by journalists or bloggers.
While almost a third (29%) give ‘dofollow’ links (basically links that mean something to Google SEO purposes), these sites have almost no link authority, making these links all but meaningless.
Put it on a newswire
And that brings us to newswires – paid services that range from being a moderate waste of money to a total waste of money. Newswires have earned their place on our list of things in PR that annoy us for a number of reasons.
Firstly, because you pay you can post whatever you want on a newswire, so companies get away with posting any old boring crap. Look at today’s news on PR NewsWire. For the foreseeable future you will be able to find plenty examples of organisations lazily writing rubbish under the false impression that by doing so and posting them on newswires they are conducting media relations. So your news might well be sent to scores of journalists, but what are the chances of them reading it, when it is buried amongst a pile of nonsense stories about new websites or a regional 20-person media company restructuring its management team?
Our second issue with newswires lies in the weird contradiction that they only work if you have a great story (and even that is no guarantee of success because the chances of it getting missed amongst the crap are so high). But if you have a great story you should be able to place it very easily without having to pay a newswire for the privilege, so they struggle to justify their value to us.
Pitch it the good old fashioned way
That brings us to the best, and (in our experience) only, proven way to place your news story. That is by pitching it. This is time consuming and labour intensive but if done properly (which few people do!) it can be exceptionally rewarding, and result in coverage of your release, detailed features, great relationships with journalists and more. The alternative is to pay someone to pitch it for you. This is great, especially if they have good relationships with relevant journalists. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for!
So, there you have it – the upshot is, don’t bother with the shortcuts – draft a great release based on a good story and make pitching the core of your press release placement strategy and you can’t go wrong!