Press Release Distribution Services – why do we need them?
Companies rarely have dedicated staff of their own who can handle press release distribution. For the most part, they give this important and challenging job to full-time press release distribution services, where public-relations professionals try to find the best way to make sure the releases are sent out in a way that maximizes their effectiveness.
Getting a press release to the right audience
One reason why the job is difficult and why a press release service is usually essential is that distributing press releases is about making sure it’s seen by the right people. Anyone can get a list of email addresses and send the release to all of them simultaneously, but most of those people won’t read it, and they might send all the company’s press releases directly to their spam folder. So PR distribution people are trained to understand that their job isn’t to maximize the number of people who get a press release. Instead, the point is to ensure that it gets the most “bang for the buck” – it should be seen by people who are likely to read it and create a story about it, and it should not be seen by anyone to whom it wouldn’t be relevant.
To make that happen, the employees of PR Distribution services usually have mailing lists that are organized and sorted by different topics, so when they get a press release for distribution, they can look at it and immediately narrow down the mailing list to people who might plausibly be interested. Working from there, they can quickly figure out how to narrow down the list still further based on the specific topics mentioned in the press release, and they can also expand the list by entering certain keywords that might be of interest to particular journalists.
PR distributors also draw on their experience and their previous encounters with journalists to know if there are a few who might be especially worth targeting with this particular press release. Let’s say they know a journalist who doesn’t usually write about the product the company makes, but does write a lot about something that is relevant to this particular press release – for example, maybe they write about the way product launches are being rethought in the current era, and they might be up for a story about this new product launch. The PR person, knowing the journalist and how to communicate with them, might reach out to them directly with a specialized communication, instead of just putting them on a list.
Understanding the laws in different countries
The ability to build relationships with journalists is only one of the skills needed for that job, though. National press release distribution requires an awareness of the journalistic culture of that country, as well as the nation-specific qualities of the press release and the laws governing press releases in the country. That’s why you usually see a Canadian PR service sending out a company’s releases within Canada, even if the company is American, and vice versa. A company might be headquartered in one country, but it usually wants to have media coverage in every country, so there needs to be a PR person everywhere you turn, all around the globe.
And speaking of laws and regulations, a PR distribution service is likely to be aware of the rules that separate spam from legitimate promotion, or what would cause a press release to fall foul of national laws against “obnoxious advertising,” or even just laws about what you can say in public. In the hands of someone who knows the rules and is trained to stay within them, a press release can be modified or tweaked to be a completely legal and legitimate form of promotion, no matter where and when it’s being distributed. You might think of the PR person as being a sort of consultant, helping to manage press releases, and align them with wherever they happen to be located.
The importance of SEO in a press release
Even in your own country, though, PR distribution networks are of help, not only because they’re familiar with the rules of the country, but because they’re familiar with how Search Engine Optimization works in that country. They can target Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, and other sites based on how they operate in a country and what types of searches are most likely to turn up a press release in the results. With their experience at distributing to websites and apps, not just individual journalists, they can maximize the number of people who see a press release even in its “raw” form, before any stories have been based on it.
Like any other specialists, PR distribution services cost money. Some of the big paid press release services are practically like news outlets in and of themselves. Organizations like PR Newswire or Businesswire have dedicated editorial staff who edit every press release both for content and to line up with the laws and regulations of each country, and they have distribution systems that allow press releases to be sent out fast and wide. However, one reason these paid press release sites are famous is because they’re expensive. If you want an affordable way to distribute a press release, you have to look a little wider and deeper and make sure that you don’t compromise on quality or legality. Finding the right press release service means doing a careful search to find the best combination of price and prestige.