It’s 2013 for crying out loud, are press releases still worth sending out? Like with any other form of advertising, you expect a return on investment. And GOOD press release services (PRWeb, PRNewsWire, etc.) aren’t cheap, but are they worth the money in a day of age where it’s easier to interact with journalists via social media, email, etc.? With Google’s recent Link Schemes update, do they even have any SEO value (more on that below)? I’ve sent out my fair share of press releases, and I also have a fiancé who works for NBC in a top 50 market. I’ll share perspectives from both sides of the table and I’ll help you make the decision on whether or not you should be sending out press releases, and which service you should utilize to send them out. First, 3 point to keep in mind:
1. Writing the Press Release – Choosing the service is the last of your problems, you actually need to write it first. Press releases follow a very specific format, and deviating from the norm could make your press release (and your business) look unprofessional. PRWeb does offer writing services, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, write it yourself or hire a professional writer that’s familiar with your niche. PRWeb’s pricing for a SEO optimized press release will run you $500. that is in addition to distribution ($99-499).
2. There’s little chance your press release will actually get read. Here’s the problem with the press release. It’s overused, and in the wrong way. Services like PRWeb syndicate your press release to outlets such as the New York Times, USA Today, Associated Press, etc. It doesn’t mean that it’s actually getting read, they’re syndicated on a news wire buried deep in their websites, some journalists flip through their niche every now and then, but most are tending to the hundreds of emails they receive every day – these are usually much more relevant to them. Press releases are becoming less and less effective as almost anyone can purchase a press release.
3. Think About Going Direct to Journalists Before Publishing Your Press Release: Often times you don’t even need a press release for press. For example, two years ago I founder a startup (that I would eventually sell) that helped people find the best deals online. It was two days before Black Friday (you know, the crazy shopping day after Thanksgiving). I noticed that they were running a segment on “Holiday Shopping Survival Guide,” and figured this was the perfect opportunity to help people shop for the holidays. Below is a copy of the email that would land me on ABC.
I’m Jay Soriano, the founder of a company that helps people find the best deals online. I have a few ideas for your “Holiday Shopping Survival Guide.” They’re
separated by three potential headlines:
1.) Black Friday ‘Doorbusters’ to AVOID
2.) The Top 10 Tech Deals this Black Friday
3.) How to Tell if a Deal is Really A Deal on Black Friday
1.) Black Friday “Doorbusters” to AVOID – Personally, I think this feature would be most useful to your demographic. I’ve been on both sides of Black Friday (sales and a customer) and I’ve noticed that buyers are far too irrational during the holidays. I’ve seen the ads and can pinpoint a few “doorbusters” that should be avoided. For additional details checkout my infographic [redacted].
2.) The Top 10 Tech Deals this Black Friday – This is another piece I feel would be really helpful to viewers, again, the infographic references a few of the best.
3.) How to Tell if a Deal is Really A Deal on Black Friday – Buying a laptop or TV? How do you know you’re really getting a deal? Is it worth waiting in line for? Those are a few questions I can answer. As an avid online shopper I can even show you a few deals available online TODAY (or recently) that are comparable to many “doorbusters.”
Look forward to hearing your thoughts, Shellie. ABC would be great place to break this one.
You see what I did there? For most businesses, if your story is newsworthy, and relevant to people within their demographic, you don’t need to send out a press release. Go direct to the journalists where most requests will actually be read.
That’s an example that works for anyone. Now think about your niche? Let’s say your a technology startup, try approaching mainstream technology blogs such as TechCrunch, Mashable, etc. with an exclusive. Former Mashable editor Ben Parr, said it best, “We prefer to be in the first group for any piece of news. Trying to give us news second hand long after somebody else has written about it isn’t going to win you favors with us.” Quora has a great thread with advice from both sides of the table on, “What are some tips for getting your startup featured on TechCrunch, Mashable and other tech blogs?” While most beneficial to startups, the tips apply to any business.
Also keep in mind that mainstream media gets hundreds of PR requests everyday. If you want to get into TechCrunch, your chances are slim unless your venture backed by known investors or your a well known entrepreneur. With that being said consider:
- Expanding your horizons, if TechCrunch doesn’t reply with regards to your exclusive within 24 hours, approach another source. Here’s a list of blogs and websites that a new startup should approach for press.
- Hiring a PR Company – I asked a well known entrepreneur in the technology space, Neil Patel, for his thoughts on avenues to explore for press releases, he mentioned something along the lines of “Press releases sound like a good idea, but most of the time they don’t get the results you want… I recommend hiring a PR agency for better results.” Getting press is like life, often times it’s not what you know, but who you know. Good PR agencies have connections with journalists that can get your product/service featured.
Why Should You Send Out A Press Release?
“Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.” Google’s update to its link schemes are the latest explosion in the SEO world since Google Penguin and Panda. Press release services (at least the major ones) were quick to react by automatically no-following links within press releases in compliance with the updated Google Webmaster Guidelines. Since press releases should now bring limited SEO value, should you still send one out?
I do recommend sending out at least one press release, most notably for the launch of your business. It’s a signal to Google that you are a legit business (would a black hat SEO spend $249+ on a press release that does not include a link that passes SEO value?).
What’s the Best Press Release Service?
We’re going to touch more on this subject next week to find out what changes press release services are making after the link schemes update. But I have done hours of research on different press release services and I recommend the following two companies for news release distribution services; eReleases.com and PRLog.com (free). Here’s why:
- At the prices they offer with the amount of distribution they have, eReleases can’t be beat. If you only send out one news release, make sure it’s with eReleases and use at least the “Newsmaker Distribution” ($399). Once posted, download the final press release as a pdf and put it in a “media kit” which includes the press release, more information, relevant images they could use in posts they write about you, etc. and use that for direct outreach. Update: eReleases has just sent me an exclusive coupon to our readers. $130 off your first press release! At that price, they’re hard to beat!
- PRLog.com is a free press release service, but don’t expect anyone to read it. With everyone and anyone allowed to post, it’s a magnet for spam and other uninteresting “news.” It is, however good for a single no-followed backlink (PR6) and can help local businesses rank in the “local 7-pack” on Google as press releases requires contact information (name, address, phone number, etc.). Their releases also rank very well, especially in non-competitive phrases… think about this when crafting the headline.
- Help A Reporter Out (HARO) – While not a press release service per se, HARO has been all the buzz for the past few years. HARO is a service that most news agencies use to find sources, they’re sent out in three daily emails (morning, afternoon, and evening) with requests from journalists looking for sources to help them out with a piece they’re working on. HARO states that, “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.” If you’re using Gmail, create filters for your niche and you’ll only get the emails with journalists that need your help.
What do you think, are press releases still worth sending out? Have you used PRWeb or a similar service? Chime in with a review in the comments below!