You’ve just launched your new startup and are excited – or at least you should be. However, what good is launching a new business if nobody knows about it? There are tons of new companies every month; how will you get the attention your business needs?
If you don’t take a strategic approach to Public Relations (PR) and marketing, it won’t be long before you see your business go down the drain. Press releases are one of the most effective ways to publicize your new startup.
What is a Press Release
A press release is a short yet compelling document that features a newsworthy story. Once crafted, you send it to media outlets, PR distribution agencies, or simply post it on your website for public viewing.
Writing press releases is a valuable skill set that can help propel your startup into the spotlight of the relevant industry influencers and journalists. Your press release is more than just a mere announcement; it’s your way of inviting them to learn more about the message you want to share.
However, issuing a press release doesn't necessarily mean that the media will automatically run with it. You need to ensure that your press release is interesting enough to pique interest.
How to Submit Press Releases
In general, there are two ways to get your press releases out there:
- You can work with a PR agency that will undertake all the effort of writing, editing, and submission, all in one place.
- You can write them and use press release submission sites.
For this article, we’ll be looking into press release submission sites. Generally speaking, the steps involved are easy. Most allow you to copy and paste your content into an online text editor then upload any multimedia you want to include. You can also add hyperlinks – but most sites will label them “nofollow” links. Some of the more premium services even allow you to choose which type of publications you want to target.
- Select the press release submission site you want to use.
- Create and verify your account.
- Input your press release content and also other information as required by the website for submission.
- Once approved, the site will commence distribution.
Here are some examples of two different marketing/press release distribution sites with different working models:
SiteTrail is a popularly used platform where you can get more visibility for your business. Their packages include writing and distribution efforts with unique editorial twists that can help boost your reach across media outlets.
Another platform to explore would be WebRevenue; a Malaysia-based company streamlined to construct effective digital marketing plans to help increase your reach in cyberspace. Rather than a “spray and pray” methodology, WebRevenue targets distribution points more strategically, resulting in a better value.
Paid vs. Free Press Release Submission Sites
As with many services, press release sites are available in free and paid variants. It is normal to try and minimize cost, but free isn’t always the best option. There are notable differences between paid and free press release sites that you should know before making any decision:
Nothing comes for free in this world, and if they do, there are sure to be some restrictions and shortcomings. Many free or cheaper press release distribution sites opt for a very bland methodology of distributing and hoping for coverage. This method often fails to reach a sizeable audience, resulting in effort loss.
Premium press release distribution sites often include top news publications in their list, such as Google / Yahoo! News. Some, like WebRevenue, even include personal outreach – with their staff pitching your press release to individual sites. While the breadth of such services seldom matches a mass distribution site, it can be tremendously more effective.
List of Paid Press Release Submission Websites
If you’re looking into outsourcing the job of getting your press release out to reach as far as possible, aside from SiteTrail and WebRevenue, here are some popularly-used paid online press release submission sites.
List of Free Press Release Submission Websites
Although the utility of free press release distribution sites is questionable, you may like to try some out as a testing ground. Here are some of the top names around you can check out:
1. Online PR News
Online PR News is probably the most established out of all the free press release submissions sites. You’ll be glad to know that its free online press releases go live for 90 days with SEO support. But if you want to get more, they offer lots of upgrades to different levels of exposure and distribution.
2. PR Free
With over ten years of experience, PR Free is indeed another great freemium press release distribution service. They aim primarily to help small and medium-sized businesses optimize their online marketing strategies. Their free service allows you to use hyperlinks, search engine indexing, and social share buttons.
3. PR Fire
PR Fire is a pretty straightforward and solid press release submission site. Anyone can create an account and upload the content. You get to choose from three categories, with the basic being free. You can add links and featured images, but your release may not be published if it does not pass their editorial checks.
Once approved, your release will be published on ‘prfire.co.uk’ only. As you can see, the free service is limited, as it only publishes your release on its platform, which Google then indexes. You can opt for the higher-tiered packages, which come at a price.
PR.com is a cross between a public relations and advertising company. Aside from offering press release distribution services, PR.com provides other services as well. Although the free service comes with RSS feeds, the distribution coverage is limited to pr.com and some third-party news sites. If you’re willing to pay, you’ll get more with a broader outreach and more robust services.
5. PR Log
PR Log is a free press release distribution service that is highly rated by many. The free service is pretty solid overall. They allow you to include links, media, select targeted locations, industry, and tag listings. They even provide SEO optimization features for your release and have spam protection on your email address.
The free service distributes your release to search engines. You can also get discounted distribution to news sites and journalists, social media integration, and customizable real-time daily or weekly alerts.
What is a Press Release Submission?
A press release submission refers to writing about something and submitting it for consideration. The traditional way of handling this is by sending it to news outlets. Today, there are other options, such as press release submission sites.
These platforms serve as distribution points for press releases, with many journalists using them as a resource for newsworthy stories to cover. Using them helps increase the distribution potential for your press releases.
Pros and Cons of Using Press Release
Online press release submission sites are typically services that can quickly deliver your press release to tons of individuals and organizations, giving you a reach far beyond what you can imagine. You gain immediate access to their vast and established database of contacts and channels, upon which they’ll continuously update.
Your task becomes much easier as all you need to do is drop your press releases into the streams they’ve created, and they’ll handle the rest. Some even provide you with an all-in-one service that includes everything from writing and editing to submission.
Some sites provide you with added value services such as preparing your announcements to meet the guidelines of various platforms and mediums. This feature is handy in ensuring proper deliverability so that your press releases land in Inboxes rather than in Spam folders.
Additionally, some provide you with analytical tools that will report on various distribution statistics. It’s a helpful ROI yardstick for letting you know how much bang for the buck you got.
There’s also a mild SEO benefit if done right. SEO is far-reaching, and one element search engines pick up on is “chatter” – how many people are talking about what you released. By amplifying the volume of chatter via press releases, you can get small SEO boosts.
Almost everything good has associated downsides. In general, press releases published via this method appear on multiple websites. As such, Google sometimes penalizes companies for having the same content on more than two websites. This duplication of content can result in slight Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) penalties.
Another factor to consider is the cost involved – it may not be a viable expenditure if not done correctly. Using press releases to gain the proper traction is a skill that is easy to get wrong, resulting in poor ROI.
Although press release distribution sites ensure the broadest reach, chances are, it can still fall on deaf ears. There’s no guarantee that a relevant news outlet will publish your piece. Even if they do, the press release may show up on a media outlet’s website for a short period before it disappears.
When you deal directly with a journalist, the chances for better coverage are higher, but these relationships can be tough to nurture.
Does a Press Release Help SEO
This question does not come with an easy answer. In the beginning, press releases did help with SEO due to the embedded links passing on link juice. Unfortunately, as expected, people abused the system, and search engines slapped down on this – making such efforts relatively meaningless today.
The result is that links in press releases have now become “nofollow,” carrying little value in boosting page quality. Aside from chatter, there is no real SEO benefit anymore.
There is another consideration, though, and that’s the human factor. Bloggers and journalists who pick up a press release can provide real value by running part of the contents in their regular coverage. This situation helps build natural content, which search engines love.
Press releases are plenty helpful and can help heaps in generating the publicity and coverage you need. However, writing the press release is just half the battle as the second part is equally crucial; you need to ensure your release reaches far enough and to the right audience.