March 31, 2020 | Article | by Rita Deurdulian | Public Relations
To Distribute, or Not to Distribute? What to Consider When Selecting a PR Distribution Service
Press coverage doesn’t just happen. Of course the news must be important, but it takes strategic thought and planning to get the news out the door—and writing a press release is only the beginning.
How you share your news is also quite important and there are many services, methods, and platforms to do this effectively, for all types of budgets—even no budget! There are services that can give your news the extra mileage needed for wide-ranging exposure by sending your press releases to large networks of targeted media websites, newspapers, blogs, radio shows, podcasts, and TV news bulletins. All of these outlets are hungry for stories, and the right media services can get your news in front of them.
The type of media distribution service you select depends on a number of factors, including formatting, cost, word count, customer service reputation, and reach. Our clients' budgets are also a top consideration, as is the type of news they're issuing. Some news is better suited to different mediums (i.e., something with a visual aspect might be better for TV). And, don’t forget, not all news needs to go out via a paid service. Sometimes, a blog or social media post is sufficient.
Let’s take a look at some of the factors that you need to consider when using media distribution services.
First, is it news?
Before even thinking about using a distribution service, it’s important to think about a story’s newsworthiness. Press releases shouldn’t be done for the sake of doing one. A release should not be done simply to fulfill a monthly tactic or goal.
Is there something exciting or new to report? If yes, then let’s go! If not, then I have five words for you: “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Over-releasing will make reporters and your audience bored and they will lose interest once you actually have big news to report.
Yes, this is big!
After deeming the story newsworthy, we like to have a conversation with clients around the kind of coverage they are hoping to achieve. That determines what services are best suited to provide the type of outcomes they are seeking. Those outcomes could include media pickup, increased search and online visibility, better engagement with the brand, new audience acquisition, or improved compliance and shareholder trust.
We then have a discussion around their intended audiences and which services will get the message out to their target demographics. It is useful if a service has reporting features for you to determine the success of your campaigns and ensure that they’re reaching the right people.
After the decision has been made to move forward, there are still a lot of other criteria to consider when selecting the best way to release your news.
Cost and budget
For instance, cost is frequently the deciding factor if you are on a tight budget. A few distribution services charge by word count, while others have flat rates. A few charge extra for releases that are over a certain word or character limit. Typically, you should be able to answer the most important questions in 400 words or less, so that is frequently the barometer.
Reach and reputation
It’s also important to look at the number of the media outlets each service distributes to, including blogs and news aggregators, and their reputations. Some services have faster release times and allow you to schedule the exact date/time of the release. Others are also capable of international distribution. A lot of this comes down to price, and if the news is truly important, and you have the budget, go with the services that are widely reputed to be the best.
Whether you are a one-person PR department or pushing multiple client releases each week—or day, customer service is key for you. Look for services that offer 24/7 support—it’s crucial that customer service be available should any issues pop up. The best press release services provide customer service that quickly solves any problems. Some services offer support via instant message or chat, email, and phone. Reps should be very responsive and be able to answer basic questions in just a few minutes.
If you are looking to distribute a multimedia-rich release, look for services that include images and videos in the base price. Sometimes a certain number of these are included with additional fees for extra creative content. Also, many services offer non-traditional releases, like spokesperson videos, that can help attract more attention.
Some of these distribution services offer subscription services. An affordable option is to sign up for a subscription if your company is interested in regularly releasing information to the media.
What about SEO considerations? There is an opportunity here to take advantage of backlinks. Having your news featured across a variety of different platforms helps you boost your SEO ranking. Although there are differing opinions on whether or not these are “quality” backlinks, it’s still a healthy discussion we like to have with the client. While you’re at it, you can run your headline through a free SEO headline analyzer.
To distribute, or not to distribute?
Once we’ve determined that the news is indeed worthy of a distribution service, it comes down to the discussion between us and the client. While we tend to advise based on experience and tangible results, we must work with the budget and goals that we have with each client.
Of course, the distribution service is only a supplement to your own customized targeted media outreach. The two should work hand-in-hand, giving you the best possible opportunity to maximize your coverage.
At REQ, we can help you build a program around both of these strategies. It's our job to make your hard work shine and provide you with the best vehicles to get it noticed. We will sit, listen, and work with you to find the best service and method to give your news the reach it deserves.