An SME's Guide to Press Release Distribution

An SME's Guide to Press Release Distribution

Press release distribution is a fantastic way for SMEs to spread the word about their business, along with building brand awareness and credibility. Here's how to get it right

By Graeme Patfield

The purpose of distributing a press release is to land coverage in media publications such as newspapers, radio, TV, podcasts or blogs. That way, you’re positioning your brand in front of a wider audience.

The key to getting traction is ensuring that your press releases are covering something newsworthy - if the release is engaging enough it can generate social media sharing, bring traffic to your website and create interest from journalists in future stories. It’s important to have a 'hook' that isn’t just about your business or product, but is of interest to your intended audience.

What are the benefits of effective PR distribution?

As well as helping you land coverage in large publications, getting your press release out to the right people can boost your SEO. If your story is published by national media on their website, there’s a chance they will link the story back to yours – which is called a backlink that can help to boost your own search engine visibility.

If you’re launching a new product, a targeted press release can have a significant impact on your sales, creating a buzz around it ahead of the launch and bring credibility to your product if someone else is writing about it. This is especially helpful to set you apart from competitors.

Press release distribution tips

To maximize your efforts, consider these tips for effective press release distribution:

1. Target the right people

Who are you trying to reach? All releases should be carefully targeted when you set them up to send out. Only with a clear understanding of what you need to say, and who you want to say it to, can you go on to communicate with maximum impact. Be sure you research the industries your company, products, or services apply to before you set your media targets  - and make sure you find the most relevant person at each publication to send your release to.

When you get hold of the contact details, a simple spreadsheet with the journalist’s name and the publication they write for is a good way to keep track of your approaches. If you have the budget, you can also use a media database such as Cision or Vuelio to find relevant journalists and news desks.

2. Draft a good pitch

Journalists prefer to receive press releases via email, so when you write the email to attach it to, you’ll need to keep it brief, and get straight into the purpose, the story, and why they should cover it. This goes for the subject line too, keep it 10 words or fewer and avoid 'clickbait' style approaches – journalists are time poor and want you to get to the point, not tease them.

It’s important to get to know your target ahead of sending them your pitch. Connect with them on LinkedIn or Twitter and engage with their posts to work yourself onto their radar.

3. Always include images or video

Reports suggest that press releases with images are 7x more likely to be covered by the media than those without, and a release with a video is 14x as likely to be picked up. It is advisable to make a journalist’s job easier by including these in your email.

4. Send it at the right time

You should always think about the time and day you are sending the release, because some have better success rates than others. Issuing your release mid-morning gives you a better chance of your pitch standing out in an inbox, once the recipient has caught up on the previous day’s emails, looked at what’s coming up and sent out any urgent emails they need to attend to first thing.

The day of the week you send the release can also be crucial to acceptance. While some publications might be active seven days a week, there’s still a lull in pick-up rates when it comes to press release distribution. If you pitch it midweek, it might land more coverage, as opposed to sending first thing Monday morning. Mondays and Fridays are generally not so effective. Also, if you’re pitching to a newspaper, find out when it goes to print to avoid missing the deadline. 

5. Promote via your own channels

Your press release may be going out to several places, but it’s important to do some additional work yourself. Make sure all your social channels and website are set up to promote your release and share when it's published by different media.

Avoid reposting the actual press release on your website because this can affect its authenticity and your page-score ranking within search engines. Instead you should try using a teaser paragraph and link to one of the media outlets that picked it up.

Should you follow-up?

Whilst some people would advise against following up on press releases others will recommend giving the journalist a gentle nudge. If you’re struggling to land coverage, you can slightly tweak your pitch email and send it again - your press release may have got lost in their 100-message inbox. Before sending, consider things you could improve; is your press release too long? Have you sent your story about a local small business to a national news outlet? Is the story actually newsworthy?

If you do want to follow-up then don’t just spam the journalist’s inbox with the same press release and the same pitch, as this can ruin chances of getting your story picked up. 

When you’re writing your press release, follow these press release distribution tips to boost your chances of landing coverage. But remember that not everything you issue will get picked up and turned into a news story, so don’t get too discouraged if it takes time to gain traction. Sometimes stories that would be worthy on one day get squeezed out by other headlines. However, get it right, and you increase the chances of your story being picked up by one or more outlets.

About the Author

Graeme is a Director at Polymedia PR - a Hampshire-based award-winning full-service PR agency. The team delivers strategic PR consultancy services and campaigns for a wide range of consumer and b2b clients such as legal, technology, property/built environment, leisure, consumer and professional services clients.