Press Release Distribution Services
This may sound shocking originating from the proprietor of an advanced PR office, however I have an adoration/loathe association with public statements. Truth be told, in some cases it’s generally despise (and basically coordinated toward official statement circulation benefits that make enormous guarantees and infrequently, if at any time, convey). What’s more, I’m not the only one: numerous geniuses in the PR business are prepared to move on the grave of conventional official statement conveyance.
Here’s what most people don’t realize about distributing press releases:
- The inherent SEO value of press release distribution via wire services is exactly zero, and has been for years.
- Press release distribution services are expensive and rarely produce ROI.
- Most ideas for press releases don’t need to be transformed into a traditional press release – a blog post will be sufficient.
- You get better results by developing relationships with reporters and pitching them directly – or even cold-pitching reporters directly via email.
- Unless you’ve strategically created something targeted to your audience and worth talking about, the news you have to share probably isn’t news at all.
- Mass pitching is a terrible idea, and you (or your PR rep) should never do it.
he (Nonexistent) SEO Value of Press Release Distribution
As mentioned and linked to above, if you’re expecting the hundreds of backlinks that press release distribution services provide to rocket your site to the top of SERPs, you might as well be waiting for Godot. Here’s what happens when you upload and distribute a press release via a traditional wire service:
1. Your release gets posted on PRWeb, PRNewswire or whatever press release distribution service(s) you choose. One-off, DIY national press release distribution via these services costs around $400. PRNewswire has a nifty option that puts your press release headline and photo on a giant screen in Times Square for just long enough for them to capture the image, which you can use in future marketing materials. This costs substantially more.
Your press release is then posted online and added to an email digest that gets sent to reporters…along with all the other press releases in your industry that were distributed that day. I asked Dan Tynan, former editor of Yahoo! Tech and current reporter for The Guardian, if he ever scrolled through these press release digests.
“God, no. Do people actually do that? Wow,” Tynan said. “I have a sudden vision of some pathetic freelancer desperate for stories to cover. That just makes me want to hug a puppy.”
Beyond the money you’ll spend, there is a pretty significant time cost to using press release distribution services as well. Plan to put in at least an hour uploading the release, image assets, videos, hyperlinking to resources, etc. Here’s what the finished product will look like once it’s live on the site:
2. The PRWeb version of the release will likely get “picked up” by 200+ media outlets, ranging from Digital Journal to The Boston Globe. This is automatically syndicated and not editorially reviews, and, to be frank, isn’t worth much of anything. Here’s what this looks like in action:
3. You’ll get a pretty report. The release distribution service(s) you choose will send you graphs and charts that detail how far and wide your news has spread. This will include the websites that picked up your news (there will be hundreds, but like a tree falling in the woods with no one to hear it, does content really exist if nobody sees it?), headline impressions (they don’t really matter), page reads (a significantly lower number, that may or may not matter), and interactions/clicks (see previous parenthetical). These reports look impressive, but when you dive into the actual KPIs and ROI, the results of the distribution will probably leave something to be desired.
4. It’s very, very likely that none of the 200+ pickups will do anything for you at all. In all of the years that we’ve been writing, distributing and pitching press releases, only a couple of unique pieces of earned media coverage (from smaller bloggers) ever came from the “higher visibility” that press release distribution services offer.
However, depending on the news you’re distributing, you will get weirdos who will call the number listed on the press release and A) try to sell you something, or B) try to convince you of a conspiracy theory – this actually happened to me a few years ago, and if you’re curious the conspiracy theory involved chemtrails.
If this is painting a bleak picture of what you can expect out of standard press release distribution via wire services, good. It’s meant to. I’ve got nothing against the distribution services, and we still use them at TCF (old habits die hard, plus press release distribution is included as part of our large and very expensive PR software package).
But I want to make it clear that you shouldn’t waste your time or resources, or rely on, press release distribution services as an exclusive method of getting your news “out there.” Even if you do everything right, they probably won’t get the job done.
I’m not saying that press releases are useless – far from it. In fact, we regularly use press releases as a way to generate earned media coverage for our clients, across all kinds of industries.
Press releases are still a legitimate way to help tell company stories, educate potential clients and customers, and secure earned media coverage. We have great success with writing and pitching press releases – we’ve sent a couple this year that have generated earned media coverage with an ad value equivalent worth $1 million or more.