Armed with last week’s post on writing the perfect PR, you should now have a structured, formatted, and interesting news release to send out online. But just because the writing is finished, it doesn’t mean that your work is done. Having a PR and having people read it are two very different things. This is where PR distribution comes in. Distributing the PR is just as important as the creative process because it’s this part of the job that will help you harvest good quality links and drive targeted traffic to the site.
1. Start Locally
Your local media should always be your first port of call when sending out an online news release. Don’t just stick to newspapers and free sheets when compiling the list of media in your area; you’ll also need to include local TV channels and radio stations. If there are websites dedicated to your community or city, put them on the list too.
You don’t want to send your PR to everyone at each publication or media outlet, so the next step is to visit each website and scour their ‘Contact Us’ or ‘About Us’ page for instructions on how and whom to contact with your story. If there aren’t any contact details, call the switchboard and ask to be transferred to the news desk. When you get through to the news desk, explain that you are a local business with a local story, that you have a PR on the event to send through to them, and would like to know who to address the piece to. Get an email and a phone number if possible so you can follow up the story later. Don’t forget to be polite and thank the person answering the phone for their help; you never know if they will be the deciding factor on whether or not your story gets run.
Don’t worry if you don’t know all your local media. There are lots of free websites that will give you lists of outlets by state or region. A good starting point is http://newslink.org/.
2. Research Industry Publications/Journals and Websites
No matter what your company specializes in, there’ll likely be at least a few dozen industry magazines, journals, and websites dedicated to it. If your firm subscribes to any specialist bulletins, put those outlets at the top of the list and pull off contact information from the masthead.
Next, go online and search for any relevant websites. When you’ve done an initial search, it’s also worth visiting trade forums and looking for mentions of publications or websites to add to the list.
Once again, you’ll have to scour the pages of these sites to find the relevant contact information or put in some phone time and speak to the news desk at each outlet to source the relevant email address and contact name. You can then add these new contacts to your list of local press journalists. With just these two simple steps, you have started to create an invaluable, highly targeted media list. This list should be kept up to date as it’s something you’ll use often, so take note of any bounced emails or new staffers. You’ll also need to make a backup copy of the list and store on a CD or DVD in case anything happens to your PC or email.
3. Online News Wires
There are hundreds of online news wires that will distribute your PR for you. Although this is an easy way to send out a release and reach lots of readers, it can also be expensive with some services charging per release. If you’re on a budget, it is possible to do it effectively yourself. Be warned that this can be time-consuming, but the more outlets you use, the more chances you have of a potential client finding the release and visiting the site. The more places your PR appears will also positively influence the number of inbound links to your site which will ultimately help with SEO performance and rankings.
Good free PR distribution sites to try include:
4. Follow Up
Having sent out the PR, you’ll need to do one final task – follow it up! Some publications may contact you directly if they intend to feature your story, either to request an accompanying image or to gain additional information, but not all will. You can do an online search using the name of the online PR to track which outlets have used it, but you can also get back on the phone and call some of the journalists you originally issued the release to. Keep in mind that they will likely be busy and won’t appreciate lots of calls, but a quick inquiry as to whether the online PR has been used is acceptable.
If it has been used, don’t forget to go out and buy a couple of copies of the newspaper or magazine in question to keep in your press cuttings file. Likewise, if you’re being featured on local TV or radio, ask for a CD of the coverage and permission to use it on your website.