Online Press Release Distribution - Ten Steps to Success
Each day, thousands of press releases are distributed online. Some generate a good deal of buzz and publicity. Others fall on deaf ears. The difference, for the most part, has to do with the strategy being used.
In this lesson, you'll learn everything there is to know about online press release distribution. We will talk about subject matter, formatting, search engine optimization, distribution services, tracking and more.
Scope: This article explains the steps involved in online press release submission, starting with topic identification. It also provides tips and best practices you can use to get the most out of your online PR campaign. When used properly, the online press release can help you improve your company's web presence, website traffic, search engine visibility and more.
Ready to Submit Your Release?
If you're ready to submit a press release online, you can use the link provided above. Or you can keep reading below to learn more about the distribution process.
What are Your PR Goals and Objectives?
Before you submit a press release online, you should have a clear idea of what you're trying to accomplish with your PR campaign. Identifying your goal(s) is an important first step in the process. It will help you in every aspect of press release distribution, from writing the release to creating the landing page. So ask yourself, what is my primary goal for this campaign? What do I hope to accomplish by publishing my news online? How do I define success in this area?
You might have one primary goal. You might have several. My advice is to keep things simple. A press release can only do so much. So you need to have realistic goals for your campaign.
Here's an example of such a goal:
Example of a PR Goal
"This release will be used to share news about our latest product, the Super Widget. We will use online press release distribution and social networking websites to explain the features of this new product. We will point readers to a specific web page for this product, where they can learn more and even see it in action by watching a video."
This is a well-defined PR strategy. These people know exactly what they are trying to accomplish through this online PR campaign. And it's a realistic goal, which is equally important. They are trying to generate awareness for a new product by driving readers toward a specific page on the website. They are also using social media to extend the reach of the campaign (more to follow on this).
Every time you submit a press release online, it needs to be tied to a specific and well-defined goal. You start with the goal and build the campaign around it. This is the first step to success with online press release distribution. As we continue with this lesson, you'll learn how to achieve that goal.
Online Press Release Distribution - By the Numbers
The process of submitting a press release will vary, based on several factors. For example, if you're using a PR firm, they will probably handle most of the logistics for you. If you're taking the DIY approach, the process will be much more involved. Since you are reading this tutorial, I can safely assume you'll be handling the online distribution of you release by yourself. So let's talk about the individual steps along the way.
Here are the ten steps I recommend taking:
- Identify the topic of your news release, and flesh out the details. Gather all of the facts to answer the five W's -- who, what, when, where and why.
- Write your press release and include the five W's mentioned above.
- Optimize your release for search engine visibility. This will increase the number of people who find it when searching relevant phrases through Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. See the SEO tips below for more on this subject.
- Build a list of journalists, bloggers and publishers who publish news from your industry or niche. This is your targeted distribution list.
- Create a landing page on your website where readers and journalists can learn more. This is an important, but often overlooked, step in the online press release distribution process. It is explained in more detail below.
- Send the press release to your targeted list of publishers. Explain how the information relates to their audience, and how their readers will benefit from it.
- Submit the release to one or more of the online distribution services. These include PRWeb, PR Newswire, Business Wire, PR.com, etc. This is your general distribution method.
- Share the news through your social networks, as appropriate. This is a good way to extend your reach with minimal effort, especially if you have a large base of followers or fans on the social websites. This is the social distribution method.
- Track the results of your campaign. There are several ways to do this. You can monitor your website analytics program to see how much traffic the press release is sending your way. You can use social media tracking tools to see how many mentions you've generated on Twitter, Facebook and similar sites. You can also use the built-analytics offered by the press release distribution service you are using. More to follow on this.
- Learn something from your online PR campaigns! Every time you submit a press release online, you can learn valuable lessons from it. For instance, you can find out what type of news gets the most activity on the social-networking sites, or generates the most inquiries from the media. This relates back to (and underscores the importance of) step #9 above. In order to do these things, you must actively track and monitor your press release distribution.
Believe it or not, this is a simplified list of steps. Some PR campaigns are much more complex than this. It all depends on the goals of the campaign and the audience you are trying to reach. With that said, I recommend you follow the ten steps outlined above at a minimum. This will help you get the most out of each press release you submit online.
Recap: The Three Types of Online Distribution
Notice the three words in bold green font in steps 4, 7 and 8. These are the three different types of online press release distribution you can use -- targeted, general and social. Each of these strategies requires a slightly different approach. Here's a recap:
- Targeted distribution is when you submit your release to specific journalists, bloggers, and other webmasters (primarily within your industry or niche).
- General distribution is when you submit your press release to an online distribution service such as PRWeb. This will likely get you into Google News, which can increase your readership and exposure considerably.
- Social distribution is when you publish the release through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
The second and third items above are fairly straightforward. But what about targeted distribution? How do you find specific websites that publish news relating to your industry or niche? You probably know a few of these sites off the top of your head. But don't stop there. Here's a PR trick to find even more news outlets and blogs that cover your field.
How to Find Potential Publishers
You can use Google to locate potential bloggers, journalists, editors and other webmasters who might publish your press release. For instance, let's say I'm publishing news about CRM software. I want to find some additional outlets for the online distribution of my release. If I do a Google search for crm software "for immediate release" (including the quotation marks), I can find a variety of websites that publish news on this topic. I could also use the Google News website to do this kind of research. Start a list of these websites. Label it as your targeted PR distribution list.
Is Your Press Release Newsworthy or Noteworthy?
What is news? Before you start publishing press releases online, you need to think long and hard about this question.
You have something you want to share with a larger audience, something that relates to your organization, your people or your product. But is it truly newsworthy? This is a question that business owners have trouble answering, because they are too close to the subject matter. As professionals, we see everything that happens within our businesses as being newsworthy. But the rest of the world may disagree with us.
What does this question have to do with online press release distribution? Everything. If you submit a release about a common everyday event, you'll be wasting your time, money and energy. So how do you know if your news is noteworthy or newsworthy?
Here are some questions to get you started:
- Does your news relate to something that could help a significant number of people? If so, it warrants a press release.
- Have you developed a new product or service, or made a major enhancement to an existing product or service? If so, a news release is probably warranted.
- Did your company recently hire a new team member, and is that person well known in your industry (outside of your company)? Consider publishing a press release.
- Have you recently concluded some original research or analysis that might be interesting / useful to a larger audience? This is another scenario were you should consider online press release distribution.
Granted, these are not the only scenarios that justify a news release. But when you consider the nature of this list, you should have an easier time answering that all-important question: Is it news?
Yes, Your PR Campaign Needs a Landing Page
You'll get better results from the distribution of your press release if you tie it to a landing page. Definition: A landing page is a specific page on your website that serves a specific purpose, for a specific audience. In this context, it's a page that offers more information about the news release you are planning to submit online.
You don't want to send people to the home page of your site. They shouldn't have to hunt for additional information relating to the release -- nor will they. So provide a link to a specific page that expands on the release. In this regard, online PR is similar to pay-per-click search engine advertising. People should be able to click through to a targeted landing page, where they can learn more about this particular topic.
How to SEO Your Press Release - Easy Optimization Tips
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the act of improving a web page or website for better rankings within the major search engines. You can apply these principles to online press releases, as well. In fact, you could easily double or triple the level of exposure simply by implementing some basic optimization.
Here are some ways to SEO your press release for better search engine visibility:
- Use a keyword research tool to identify popular search terms that match the content of your release. The Google AdWords tool is a good choice.
- Optimize your press release for one primary key phrase, and a handful of secondary / related phrases. But no more than that.
- Include your primary phrase within the headline, and also spread it throughout the release in a natural way.
- Intersperse your secondary phrases throughout the body of the release.
These simple SEO techniques will help people find your press release when searching for relevant phrases in Google and other search engines. If you submit it through an online distribution service like PRWeb, there's a good chance it will appear in Google News. This gives people two ways to find the release -- they can find it within the organic search listings, as well as through Google News.
But don't stop there. Online press release distribution can also help you improve the search engine visibility of your own website. It does this by strengthening your link popularity. If you include a few links within the release that point to your website), you'll get a boost in the link popularity department. This is a key ranking factor with all of the major search engines. So it should boost your rankings over time. If your press release gets republished / syndicated onto other websites, you'll gain even more links.
Where to Submit Your Release Online
There are many websites that offer online press release distribution, and they'd all love to have your business (and money). But you don't need to submit the release to all of them -- unless you really want to. In most cases, you can get good results by using two or three of the high-level services.
I recommend using PRWeb at a minimum. You could also use PR Newswire or Business Wire, but it will cost more. PR.com is another popular service. With PR Newswire and Business Wire, you can choose to have your release sent to specific journals, magazines and newspapers. This kind of specificity may justify the additional cost, depending on the nature of your campaign.
How to Measure the Success of Your Campaign
When distributing press releases online, you need to be able to track the results in some way. Otherwise, you could be wasting money without even knowing it. Or you could be generating a lot of traffic and buzz without realizing it. Both of these are problems, from a marketing intelligence standpoint. So make sure you are tracking your results in some way.
There are several ways to track and follow the online distribution of a press release. Here's a summary of five techniques.
- Republication: If your press release gets republished on other websites, it can drive more traffic and create a higher level of awareness. But how will you know if it gets published onto other sites? You could set up a Google Alert for a specific phrase contained within the release, surrounded by quotation marks. You can also use the analytics and tracking tools provided by the online distribution service you are using.
- Spin-off Stories: This is when journalists or publishers contact you in response to your press release, in order to interview you for a spin-off story they are doing. This is when your PR program moves up to the next level. Not only does your news appear on the PR websites -- it also appears on relevant industry sites. Keep a list of anybody who contacts you in this fashion, so you can send them future releases directly.
- Social Lift: If you submit your press release through the social networking websites as we discussed earlier, you may enjoy some secondary sharing. This is when people within your network share the story with others in their circles. This is what people mean when they something has "gone viral" on the Internet. You can track this kind of thing with Google, or by using a social-media monitoring tool such as Trackur (trackur.com).
- Direct Traffic: Remember the landing page we discussed earlier? It's a key step in the online press release distribution process. It's also another way to track the success of your campaign. Use your website analytics program to find out how many people visited the landing page in the days and weeks following the distribution of the release.
- Direct Sales or Leads: This is another way to monitor the success of your online PR campaigns. But you'll need to capture the data in some way. This is why so many companies use the "How did you hear about us?" field in their contact forms and other pages where information is captured. This is not as easy to track as the four items listed above, but it's a useful metric. So track it if you can.
In closing, I'd like to recommend a press release distribution service for your online campaigns. PRWeb is a respected company with a long history. They offer a variety of tools to help you create, optimize, distribute and track your news releases.
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