I’m sure you’ve heard that the press release is either dead or dying. That it is an outdated method of reaching the press with tools like Twitter that let you publish your news yourself. A new survey shows that the press release is doing quite well.
While social media and putting out the word yourself is a good idea, it shouldn’t replace sending press releases to the media if you have newsworthy content. Even large companies that have incredible name recognition still use a newswire and still send journalists press releases (and bloggers).
A survey by the Oriella PR Network, an alliance of 15 PR agencies around the world including 750 journalists confirms this. Journalists say they want emailed press releases from PR pros — if they are relevant and assuming they have news value.
75% of respondents said that an emailed press release is useful to receive from PR professionals, assuming the content is “high quality and well targeted.”
Be sure to check out the graphic that shows other methods of reaching journalists.
Other points from the study: the majority of journalists like what they do even though though many have been laid off. The offline media world is shrinking (while online outlets are likely to grow). They’re worried about quality and profitability. 41% don’t think the online model is profitable.
Tip: In addition to sending out your press release through a wire service email it to a targeted list of journalists. That way you’re covering both the online distribution and reaching media directly.
Want to know about a press release that actually drove sales? Here it is – a special tax break meant people could get a free golf cart after rebate. It had all of the elements of a successful customer-based press release — a video, graphic of the cart with pricing and a strong call to action.
I often don’t hear back from clients about how their press releases perform so I asked for examples on Twitter. I got a response from my friend Mat and it was about this press release I wrote. He can’t say the exact sales but that it was very BIG.
Guess the keyword phrase they are now #1 for on Google! [even though the promotion ended hopefully it's still helping out the company]. Notice that it’s not the press release that is ranking – it’s the URL that the press release links to.
Do most press releases lead to sales? Probably not. Most are to build your brand and trust. It’s about visibility (no one will buy from you if they don’t know who you are). But if you have a great offer your press release can definitely lead to sales.
If the company wanted media coverage they could spin this press release another way. It would be about how the stimulus money is helping their business and how as a result they are almost selling out of electric cars.
Related articles by Zemanta
Here are 2 examples of online press releases that were successful for different reasons. I wrote one of them and a pr firm wrote the other. Both were distributed through Business Wire. They had different goals. One was for the online visibility and the other had a strong story for the media.
I haven’t used Business Wire a lot in the past but I’m pleased with the results and will use them more often.
Online Visibility Case Study
This press release got a lot of traffic, tweets and links for OrangeSoda an online marketing company that I work for. Here is the Business Wire case study.
Media Case Study
This press release landed my client on the front page of a newspaper and an appearance on the Dr. Phil show. Even though we just targeted Utah it got national coverage too and that helped keep the cost down. All of the press releases distributed through Business Wire are now included in their online distribution network.
Check out the full story about this press release.
These examples both illustrate how effective it can be to leverage trends. Here’s an excerpt about this concept from my book, I Need a Killer Press Release, Now What??
Tell a Story with Your News
When it comes to a press release, I love getting the story behind the
news. The story is what makes news compelling. It’s what news is all
about. It’s the human interest or the inside scoop that makes people
care about your company. If you can tie your story into a larger story or current trend you have it made. Why? People love a good story. When it comes to a press release or media coverage, people usually don’t care about your company unless you give them a reason to. A story gives them a reason. Your news is nothing without a story. Don’t just tell us the news; make it interesting.
If you get the Killer Press Releases DVD you’ll be able to watch me use free online tools to help you identify trends. One of those is to search a news site like Yahoo News for topics relating to your story. Then give your opinion or take on it or let it lead you to a new angle you could take.
I was just asked about the difference between PRWeb and Business Wire. I responded that if you want mainly online coverage and features you cannot beat PRWeb for the price. They also reach mainstream media but you would want to choose the $360 package for that. Here are some breakdowns:
||Mainstream Media reach
||$200 for SEO package. 24/7 support, moderately easy to use.
||Can choose up to 5 regions
||Focus on online optimization but also has an email list of journalists. If you want to reach media or use video, use the $360 package.
||varies but for 1 geographic region it starts at about $300 Easy to use, great support.
||pay extra for each state
||Decent mainstream and online reach – I’ve focused on one state but gotten national coverage. Unlimited links but extra for images. 38% of press releases picked up by media (see study).
||Varies – more expensive. Tough to understand pricing and confusing to use.
||pay extra for each state/region
||Strong trust with traditional media. 55% of press releases picked up by media (see study).
The study I refer to above is a 3 month analysis of news stories that were a result of press releases. When you look at this don’t let anyone tell you that press releases are worthless to get media coverage. Maybe only half or less will but your chances go up with a strong story and using a reputable newswire. I like each depending on budget and goals.
This was from Sept 2008. Here is the kicker from PR Newswire – they also performed well online. “Third party data from web analytics providers shows PR Newswire outperforms its peers in web traffic rank and reach and in blog links, as well.”
On each business day from April 1 to June 30, 20 press releases – 5 per wire service – were randomly selected. Pickup was measured with online content libraries LexisNexis and Factiva over a 2-week period. A pick-up means a reference to subject matter in media published after the date and time of the release. It wasn’t just republished press releases.
Press releases were picked up by:
PR Newswire were used 55% of the time
Marketwire’s 43% pickup rate
Business Wire’s rate of 38%
They also measured the daily average of unique visitors on Quantcast and Compete.com They also claim their content “has been referred to in more blog posts, Diggs and Delicious Links than any other commercial wire service.”
The challenge for me with PR Newswire to me using it for clients is that it’s almost impossible to figure out what the final cost is. It’s also pricey. Plus out of all the newswires it was the hardest to use, with so many options that it was confusing what you get or what you need. However, if media coverage is important to you, it may be worth the trouble. I’m going to offer special small business pricing for PR Newswire which will help offset the cost. I’m also going to wish that they’ll improve the user interface in the future.
There are many ways to get free PR leads free online. Answer these leads and you could score some publicity for your business. Here are the top 15 free lead sources online.
1. HARO – must have email service http://www.helpareporter.com/
No such thing as free PR? From The New York Times, to ABC News, to HuffingtonPost.com and everyone in between, nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources in their stories. Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for.
2. Pitchrate http://www.pitchrate.com/ – Connects journalists with the highest rated experts. Sign up as an expert in your field and you could be quoted in a story.
3. Reporter’s Source email list http://www.reporterssource.com/ Free Service Linking Reporters and Businesses Making connections between journalists and sources no matter what day or hour it is! Like HARO but only one email per day.
4. The list- Welcome to “The List.” http://rolemommy.com/the-list.php
This is a resource for reporters, television producers, magazine editors, freelancers, radio and podcast hosts who need mom experts to interview for news and parenting stories.
5. Top 10 PR Lead Sources to follow on Twitter http://www.30minutepr.com/the-top-10-pr-lead-sources-on on -twitter/
Listed with detailed descriptions & images, from Marc Harty. This is a fantastic list. Now for my favorite Twitter lead sources.
6. HARO’s urgent tweets: http://twitter.com/skydiver
7. Follow Profnet’s Maria Perez on Twitter http://twitter.com/profnet. She sends out Urgent reporter queries and other news of interest.
8. Pr media leads: http://twitter.com/ReportersSource and sign up for their email list
9. Pr thought leader (though they claim ‘technology based’) found extremely helpful http://twitter.com/rww
10. Pr thought leader & meida leads: http://twitter.com/rolemommy – She’s a former Network TV Executive turned writer, PR consultant, author and mompreneur.
11. Don’t forget one of the best sources of free PR leads – your own Personal Blog – if you use Good quality SEO, you’ll be found easier – that’s how AP found me for these stories:
Muslims: RSS feed & twitter.
Syndicated columnists in Hartford Courant & New Haven Register
AP http://americanmuslimmom.com/press-coverage-fasting-ramadan with easy-to-find contact information.
12.Stacey Kannenberg’s Top 7 Free Marketing Techniques
13. Muckrack – across the top of the site there are Twitter lists including one to journalists. http://muckrack.com/beats
14. LinkedIn is a great resource to get PR leads…see http://blog.startwithalead.com/weblog/2009/04/5-steps-for-using-linkedin-as-lead-generation-tool-.html for ideas.
15. PitchforPr – check out this resource (not incredibly high quality from the looks of it) http://www.pitchforpr.com
Here’s a great article reviewing Profnet vs. HARO vs. Twitter.
I opted out of Profnet, and doing quite well with the freebies; I actually getting more coverage from more notable places both online and offline then I did the 2 years I was receiving ProftNet leads.
2 things holding me back, I was not consistent and I did not update my profile to reflect what areas I would like to get more coverage in. With clear destination mapped out, Mommy blogger (homeschooling) and Muslim Blogger.
Some of my colleagues are listed in a number of the below areas, so we ‘tip’ each other via chats or email? This has made me more marketable to my colleagues.
What free PR lead sources do you use? Please answer in the comments!
I’m honored to be a presenter at PRWeb’s Thrive conference about online marketing. I’ll join Anne Holland, Peter Shankman of HARO, John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing and more. You can hear me at 1-1:50pm.
Thrive in today’s tough economy, don’t just survive. A strategic marketing plan that integrates online marketing techniques and tools is the key to differentiating and growing your business. Yet, it can be challenging to navigate a complicated landscape packed with buzz words like “Web 2.0” and “SEO,” and really transform your business.
That’s why PRWeb, the leader in online news release distribution, and some of its premier partners, are sponsoring Thrive 2010: The Ins and Outs of Online Marketing, an all-day online event that will teach you the online marketing concepts you need to thrive and how to apply them.
When: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Where: Online (virtual)
Time: 9:30 – 5pm ET
Cost: $99 Use my special discount code at the end of this post to save $10!
Join some of the industry’s most renowned online marketing experts and learn how to:
* Improve your Web site to drive traffic and convert visitors into new business;
* Optimize your site for search engines
* Influence target audiences and increase visibility with online news releases;
* Use Social Media to build credibility and expand your reach; and,
* Foster close and loyal customer relationships through email and content marketing techniques;
Register today – you don’t want to miss it!
- Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/ThriveJanetThaeler
Register for $79 with coupon code: PRW20 (regular price is $99).
I just finished reading a report called “Press Release Newswires — a Circulation without a Readership?” I took the survey that was the basis of this paper on LinkedIn. The title already suggests that newswires may not be as valuable as some people hope they are.
Of course, putting a release on newswire like PR Newswire, PRWeb, Business Wire etc. is not a guarantee of coverage. It’s not a guarantee that anyone will read your release either. So what are they good for? According to this paper, not a lot.
Has the Web Ruined Press Releases?
“Before the Web, releases that were published would almost guaranteed to reach relevant readerships. This is because a release would be ‘processed’ by a proper, trained journalist, who would assess its relevance to the publication’s audience. Now, however, the sheer number of web sites that contain “news” content means that one’s press release could potentially appear on many of the billions of pages, yet could be read or trusted by no one.”
Even online they argue that people want credibilty from a 3rd party, when they search for news, not a list of press releases. Sometimes press releases are nothing more than an advertisement. “What separates public relations and advertising, and what gives PR its value, is the third-party recommendation that it brings in the form of coverage in trusted and valued news sources.”
Merely sending out a press release and paying for it doesn’t buy or guarantee coverage (because if it did, again, it would be advertising). It can get your news online. It can get you news distributed to a wide variety of web sites. But it cannot guarantee someone will write about or link to your press release or story.
As the report points out, you can reach a wide audience online and a variety of online publications, a newswire is a cost-effective tool to do that. But it’s not that targeted.
Positive Press Starts with a Good Product, Service or Company
Here’s the part that I liked because it’s a tough one for people who are new to this to grasp. Another problem that a press release can’t solve — it can’t make a good product, service or company. You can make people aware of you but it can’t make people buy from or like you. PR can’t do that either.You’ve got to start with something that has value or no amount of press will redeem it.
The Value of Links
Google’s Matt Cutts has said that press releases have value, but not as much the press release itself, but from people writing about and linking to the press release. So again, a 3rd party endorsement. But as I point out in my book, you should share the news in a variety of ways. Online, links have value because they help push a web page, video, image, etc. higher in search results. It’s a very different value than press releases have traditionally been. The paper slams David Meerman Scott’s assertion that a press release has value on your web site and on a newswire.
Direct to Customer Press Releases
Another value of an online press release is in sales or leads – these are press releases written not for the media but direct to your customer. The paper discredits this even while talking about the need to measure results. When my clients say their press release got their phone ringing – I find that valuable. There is a lot of news that isn’t interesting enough to be covered by media but still has a valuable audience.
The paper gave some interesting information about PR Newswire. I imagine the unnamed competitor to be PRWeb, but that’s just a guess. It makes me wonder if it’s just that PR Newswire is more trusted. It’s certainly been around the longest. I’m guessing more PR pros use it and since they know how to write a good story, their news is picked up more.
- PR Newswire claims that their press releases are picked up 55% of the time.
- PR Newswire said Business Wire gets picked up 38% of the time.
- They state that their “next competitor” gets picked up 43% of the time.
- PR Newswire was the most popular newswire in the study.
I agree that newswires are complementary to traditional PR activities – calling or emailing journalists to sell them on writing a story. That cannot be replaced. It’s also true that a lot of smaller companies won’t get coverage by mainstream media because they simply aren’t newsworthy. However, they can still use newswires to get coverage in search engines.
Interestingly the paper states that “Public relations, ironically, has one of the worst reputations of any profession.” I’d like to see data to back that up (since I do not have a PR background). Also ironic is that this paper was written by a PR firm.
What do you think? What role do newswires play in PR? Do they add value or are they hurting an industry that is already struggling with a bad reputation?
I had a funny experience that actually happens fairly often when I write press releases. I was writing about a company who was donating product to a nonprofit group. I suggested the idea as a way to have something newsworthy to write about as well as to do something for the community (which is part of PR – relating or interacting with the public).
I asked for details – what exactly they were donating and to whom, when they were donating it and why. Basic questions. The client answered them somewhat and wanted the press release written asap. So after trying to get more detail, I wrote the press release. I had to guess at a lot of the facts, hoping they would see that I didn’t have enough to write a strong story.
I got an email back saying, “this press release is full of inaccuracies.” I had a good laugh then explained that I know that – but since I never got specific answers to my specific questions, I had to do the best I could.
Details are important to your story. From now on I will send a questionnaire with each press release job, but for now I wanted to tell you about an email I got recently from PitchRate that drives home my point
When you buy my INTERNET PRESENCE PACKAGE, my writing team
will create a stellar and a brilliantly written ARTICLE, PRESS RELEASE,
AND PROFESSIONAL BYLINE that we will spread strategically across
the Net, giving you more places to be found online.
At $197 this is an amazing opportunity to employ your own stellar PR
writing team and distribution service.
And even though my writing team is brilliant, they will need some
information. So get your notes together, the points you want driven home,
and the key messages you want delivered and jump on board today!
Yes, did you see the last part? They aren’t going to be able to write the story unless you give them information to write it. Also, look at the turnaround time needed…
Note: Expect a 2-week turnaround for your article, press release, byline and distribution.
So next time you want a press release think about this – what is your story? I can help you come up with one (in most cases) but you have to fill in the details. While a press release takes a few days turnaround for me, it’s going to take a few days after I get the story. Unfortunately, press releases are nonfiction – not fiction. We can’t make them up, we need your help.
P.S. I’m working on my services page with my current pricing and the question sheet that I send along with my policies. This is long overdue but needed.