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Press Release Distribution Tools: Essential Choices for Effective Communication

Picture the scene: you've written a brilliant press release that contains important news about your business - perhaps launching a new product or service - and you're hoping that the story will get the attention it rightly deserves.

Of course, you've got important targets to hit too.

Ideally, you'd like to see a boost in sales, some meaningful media coverage, and a good number of mentions on social media.

This is where a selection of tools known as 'press release distribution services' come into play.

The name might seem like a bit of a mouthful, but these services are the unspoken hero of a business's public relations strategy.

Why? Because they exist to make sure that your press releases reach the right audience.

And once you've got your press release in the right inboxes, you're on a direct path to increased visibility and achieving some impressive results.

This guide will explain how PR distribution services work for press releases, and what you need to consider when planning your news stories.

Choosing the right distribution platform

Depending on whether you're a small business owner or a seasoned PR professional, you'll probably be looking for something slightly different from your chosen press release tool.

To pin down the best press release distribution service for your requirements, you'll need to take a closer look at the features and benefits of each service.

So, what should you consider?

Different platforms do vary depending on their ability to target specific social media channels and media outlets, their global reach and the level of analytics and reporting offered.

Of course, you also want a tool that's easy to use and comes with a cost that's within your budget.

Thankfully, a press release distribution service which helps you meet your goals and objectives will not only maximize the reach of your press release, but also improve your overall return on investment.

As you evaluate different options and features, don't forget to consider support options and read user reviews.

Choose wisely, and you will hopefully bring your press releases to a wider audience.

This should in turn increase your brand's visibility, bring in new customers, and drive traction for your news, all while saving time and resources.

Understanding Press Release Distribution

Before we move onto how best to distribute a press release and the best press release services on offer, it's important to get clarity on what we're talking about.

Components of Press Release Creation

Let's first consider what makes a good press release in the first place.

We'll admit, there's a bit of an art to press release writing.

A good press release will be easier to read and understand, so it's safe to say that this step is pretty important.

The main components to creating a release are:

  • Sourcing the story and facts relevant to your release

  • Creating a structure that includes the interesting stuff at the top

  • Getting quotes and stats to make your release more interesting

  • Obtaining the relevant contact details for further communication between you and whoever receives your press releases

Of course, part of creating press releases is understanding where tools can help. We'll look into this more later in this guide.

Typical press release structure

We mentioned structure in our above criteria for creating press releases. So, let's dig into more detail about that structure. Here's what you should typically include in your press release:

  • Headline: Aim for something that summarizes the main message, while also feeling enticing - leaving the reader wanting to know more.

  • Subheadline: This is an additional line, in italics, that offers more context or a supporting detail.

  • Dateline: The date and location where the release is issued.

  • Introduction: Keep it brief, provide some key facts and highlight the news value of the story.

  • Body: From here you can elaborate a little, perhaps working in quotes from company representatives or industry experts.

  • Boilerplate: Press releases often end with a standard paragraph about the company, highlighting its mission, history, and key information.

  • Contact Information: Name, phone number, and email address for the appropriate contact person.

Now, press release distribution services look for these specific components, so following the template above makes it more likely that it will be distributed effectively and seen by journalists at various news outlets.

If you get stuck, it may be worth looking into a press release service to provide press release writing services.

Benefits of Effective Distribution

It's probably clear by now that there are several advantages to using a great tool to distribute press releases, but let's list them anyway:

  • Increased visibility: Whether your aim is to add more media contacts to your little black book, or target a specific audience like trade publications, an effective distribution strategy will deliver your news to a wider audience within your target market.

  • Improved search engine optimization (SEO): Many tools are SEO-savvy too, and could help to improve your site’s search engine ranking.

  • Access to journalists and media outlets: We mentioned building your own media contacts above, but the truth is that a great distribution tool has immediate access to those same people. Simply upload your press release and it could soon be on its way to an extensive network of journalists, bloggers, and other media professionals.

  • Time and resource efficiency: Sending out press releases one-by-one to multiple different channels is extremely time consuming work. Using a specific tool to distribute press releases frees up valuable time and resources for other tasks.

Now that we're all agreed on the benefits, let's move onto how to choose the best one for you and your business.

Choosing Among the Best Distribution Services

There are a few press release distribution services that are well regarded in the industry.

In this section, we will take a closer look at the best-known and most popular distribution platforms.

Top-Rated Distribution Platforms

If you've done a bit of Googling before you landed on this guide, you'll probably have noticed there are quite a few press release distribution services on offer.

All will claim to help you gain exposure and reach your target audience effectively, but there is some nuance in the particular services that each can provide.

A comparison of press release distribution services

Some of the best known press release services to maximise media outreach include:

Cision PR Newswire

Known for its extensive distribution network and media reach, Cision PR Newswire is a popular choice among large corporations and organizations.

Business Wire

This platform provides comprehensive distribution services and multimedia options to cater to various businesses and industries.

PRWeb

If you have a smaller budget, you might consider PRWeb. It is considered to be ideal for small businesses looking for affordable options with excellent search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities.

eReleases

A trusted PR distribution service that combines the features of larger platforms with personalized customer support.

Comparing press release services

When considering platforms, make note the cost and distribution networks to which they have access.

A free trial could also be helpful, as that will give a better idea of how easy each platform is to use, and may give access to try out additional features before committing to a paid subscription.

Selecting the Right Distribution Tools

In order to choose the right tool for distributing press releases you need to consider:

  1. What features are on offer

  2. What you need

  3. What's your budget

  4. What integrations can you perform

Here's a breakdown of these four aspects in a little more detail:

1) Features of Top Press Release Distribution Services

Different tools for distributing press releases have similar and yet slightly different features.

Decoding the meaning behind these various features will help in your hunt for the right tool.

There are a few features which could potentially send your press release distribution into the stratosphere.

Look out for things like:

Targeted distribution

This nifty little feature will enable you to reach specific audiences based on their demographics, interests, industries, or locations.

With a feature like this, you may well have the ability to filter options in order to create a targeted distribution list for each specific press release.

Wide coverage

This simply means access to a broad network of media outlets, journalists, bloggers, and influencers.

The bigger the coverage, the bigger the audience for your story.

Tracking and analytics

Once you've sent a press release out, these features allow you to measure how well it performed and potentially adjust your plan for next time.

The analytics might take the form of number of views, clicks, or social media engagements.

This data is really helpful, as you can use it to improve your press release strategy over time.

Scheduling and automation options

Scheduling will allow you to publish your press release at the most effective time.

This could be especially helpful if you're planning to contacts on different time zones, or would like the press release to go out even when you're stuck in a meeting.

Similarly, automation tools can help to streamline the distribution process.

Customizable templates and formatting options

These features can help you create professional-looking press releases that stick to the structure and industry standards we mentioned above while also looking great.

Customization and automation features could be really helpful to someone who is new to crafting press releases, or would like to build confidence in that area.

2) Assessing Your Distribution Needs

In choosing the right service for your needs, it's worth making some notes about what you're hoping to achieve.

Before you hit subscribe on a service, give the following questions a little bit of thought.

What are your goals?

Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate some new leads, or announce new products or services?

Getting to the bottom of your goals will be helpful, as certain tools might better help with different outcomes.

Who is your target audience?

Who would you like to reach with your press release? It could be potential customers, industry influencers, or media outlets.

Check that this aligns with the reach of your chosen platform.

How much money can you spend?

The budget of a small business will obviously pale in comparison to than that of an industry giant.

Determine how much you can invest on software so that you know the cost won't blow up your overall marketing budget.

How often will you send press releases?

Pricing models are sometimes split between subscription and pay-per-release options.

If you don't plan to send out that many press releases over the course of a month or year, the latter might be more cost effective.

Who do you want to reach?

Identify which channels you want to prioritize, such as online media, print, social media, or industry-specific media outlets, and check these against your chosen platform.

Spend some time with these questions

If you dig deep with this crucial bit of preliminary research, you may find that some services are instantly ruled out - while others seem more likely to fit your needs.

3) Budget Considerations for Small Businesses

We know that as a small business owner, budgets can be tight.

To keep your press release distribution service within budget, you need to carefully consider your budget when looking for the best press release distribution service.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • While you compare prices among different press release distribution services, make note of different subscription levels. Some platforms offer annual, monthly, or per-release pricing plans so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

  • Don't overlook additional costs like the fees for multimedia integration (images, videos), or charges for targeted audience distribution.

  • Take advantage of free trials or limited-time offers that some platforms may provide. This will give you a chance to evaluate their services before committing to a plan.

  • If you don't want to write your own press releases and your chosen plan doesn't include automated press releases, consider enlisting the help of freelance PR professionals who can effectively craft and distribute your press releases while taking into consideration your budget constraints.

As you weigh these factors, remember to think about the quality of the service.

A low cost service which doesn't actually meet your needs could be a bigger mistake than spending slightly more on a quality service which could have the desired impact on your target audience.

4) Integrating With Media Monitoring Tools

Once your press release has been distributed, the right tool should also allow you to monitor how it was received by your target audience.

Media monitoring –– a service available with CisionOne –– offers valuable insights into the success of your press releases.

It can help you refine your future communication strategies. In fact, post-send monitoring has a whole raft of benefits.

It will make your work flow more efficient

Monitoring the coverage of your press release manually can be time-consuming. Media monitoring tools streamline and automate the process, so you can focus on other important tasks.

You will have access to that all-important analysis

Media monitoring tools can provide comprehensive data on the reach, engagement, and sentiment of your press release, enabling you to better gauge its effectiveness.

You can set up real-time updates

Real-time notifications will enable you to stay informed of any new mentions or discussions related to your press release. This puts you in the best position to stay on top of the conversation and respond quickly to any follow up enquiries from interested parties.

The result? Once you're on top of the impact of your messages, you'll be able to make data-driven decisions and build stronger relationships with your target audience.

The Role of SEO and Digital Marketing Alongside Press Releases

Online press releases are often ineffective unless they are optimized for Google News and social media. It might not seem overly important but search engines and social platforms have the power to amplify your releases or bury them below other stories.

It's therefore important to consider the following before distributing a press release:

1) Optimizing Press Releases for Search Engines

Now that you've written a great press release, it's time to incorporate some search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to increase its visibility online.

This allows your press release to rank higher within internal searches on your chosen distribution platform and on Google.

There are a lot of SEO techniques available here. Paying attention to SEO will result in more traffic to your website or press release, which in turn should hopefully convert to more press coverage or customers.

If you want to rank on the first page of Google, there are a few tricks you'll need to keep up your sleeve.

Identify and include keywords

Look up some frequently used search terms for your topic and pepper them into your press release, focusing on the title, headings, and first paragraph.

Include relevant links

Make sure that your readers can easily click over to your website or other useful resources. Not only does this make your copy more informative, it also makes it more credible to search engines.

Improve readability

To make sure your content is easy to read and understand, use short paragraphs, bullet points, and conversational language. Google loves content that is reader-friendly.

Conduct competitor research

Use software like Semrush to assess how your competitors create successful press releases and distribute them to their audience. Spot what you can copy when you're writing your releases, and what can you do differently.

2) Using Social Media to Maximise Distribution

Now, let's look at social media.

Tapping into social media could open up another level of potential audience - including influencers who may be interested in promoting your service or product, or sharing your story.

Craf your press release with social sharing in mind. Think catchy headlines and engaging visuals - and don't forget those all-important social sharing buttons.

Next up, it's time to think about influencer outreach.

Make a list of social media influencers who may be interested in your topic, and contact them (either directly or via your chosen distribution service) to see if they would be interested in sharing your press release and/or its key message.

If they do share your message, this will expand your reach to include their audience, too.

Finally, consider targeted distribution.

This means publishing your press release or its contents on the most relevant social media platforms for your audience, increasing the chances of engagement and visibility.

Emerging Trends in Press Release Distribution

Gone are the days when press releases were sent via fax to news outlets and newswire services. These days a press release can make an immediate impact when published on social media, or spread on newswire distribution sites.

Innovations are happening all the time, while artificial intelligence is the next big advancement in the press release industry.

Innovations in Press Release Tools

As with all technology, press release distribution services are constantly evolving and adding innovative new ways to distribute press releases quickly and across multiple different media and social media platforms.

There's been a particularly innovative leap in services that can:

  • Utilize social media platforms: Press release distribution services can now target and amplify your content on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This helps you reach wider target audiences in a cost-effective way.

  • Press release generator: For those who are short on time or perhaps looking to build confidence, there's a surge in the use of press release generators which can create well-structured and tailored content in minutes. Such tools can potentially save you countless hours of writing, editing, and formatting time.

Role of AI and Automation

It's the thing we're all talking about. Artificial Intelligence and automation is starting to be used in more parts of our personal and work lives.

This can take the form of AI-led press release writing services, AI-driven media monitoring, and AI software that helps guaranteed paid placement positions within search engines.

It goes without saying that artificial intelligence is helping with many aspects of marketing campaigns too.

In particular, AI-driven press release distribution services can offer the following benefits:

  • Automated scheduling: Using AI, distribution of content can be scheduled across multiple platforms, ensuring your press release is published at the most optimal time to achieve maximum exposure.

  • Enhanced targeting: AI-driven targeting enables press release distribution services to identify the most relevant journalists, influencers, and social media platforms for your content.

  • Optimized content: AI-powered tools can analyze your press release and provide suggestions for improvements, including keyword optimization and error corrections.

Analyzing Distribution Performance

The success of a press release isn't just gauged on media outreach. Your story could make it on to hundreds of press release sites and digital media outlets. Yet if no-one reads it then it isn't doing what you need.

You can use tools like CisionOne to analyze and assess the performance of whole releases or even just media snippets. Below are the main criteria used by PR tools, like CisionOne, to gauge true impact.

1) Generate Distribution Reports

The best press release distribution tools allow you to analyze the performance of a story after you've sent it out.

The analysis begins by generating distribution reports. In these reports, you can choose what to look out for and use your software to examine the entire media database, to better track story performance.

A bit of expert analysis will help you understand how well your message has been received and which channels have been most effective.

From here, you can dig deeper into the numbers of review press releases directly.

2) Review Press Release Distribution

Once you have your report, you can begin to conduct a thorough review.

Distribution reports typically include basic information on:

  • Media coverage: The number of online publications, newspapers, magazines, or blogs that mentioned your press release.

  • Social media engagement: How many times your press release was shared, liked, and commented on across various platforms.

  • Website traffic: The amount of traffic generated to your website from the press release, including referral traffic and direct traffic.

Once you have this information in your hands, you move on to identifying trends. This will help you make a plan for your next press release.

Comparing the results of a number of different press release dispatches might be helpful, too.

However, these headline figures are only the start of your analysis. If you really want to get an understanding of your press release impact, it's time to dig into the numbers.

3) Measuring Media Reach and Impact

And this is where measuring reach and impact comes in. Did you really get the media reach you were hoping for? Or did your press release get buried under other news?

Understanding the media reach and impact of your press release is crucial to understanding its success, and what you might want to change for next time.

Here are some key areas for assessment:

Media coverage

Count the total number of times your press release appeared in media mentions, including online publications, newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Media outlet relevance

Evaluate the significance of the media outlets that mentioned your press release. Were they relevant to your target audience? Did they have a good reputation and a large readership or viewership?

Geographic reach

Determine if your press release reached your desired geographic locations. Did it attract coverage in local, regional, or international media outlets?

Audience engagement

Assess the level of audience engagement through comments, social media shares, and website traffic.

To improve the effectiveness of your future press releases, consider making changes based on the findings to adjust your distribution strategy.

This may involve refining your target audience or fine-tuning your press release's content and format.

Next Steps

Now you know about the best press release distribution tactics and the platforms that are available, it's time to test it yourself. If you haven't written press releases before then you could start by using a press release generator with ChatGPT.

Or, if your press releases are ready to go then a tool like Cision PR Newswire will help you get your stories out there and on Google News.

From here you can analyze your release, looking at everything from audience engagement to media outreach. See if your PR efforts were worth it and get editorial support so you can fine tune all future releases.

Author Bio
Marcelo Javelly
SEO and Social Listening Specialist

Marcelo is an SEO and Social listening expert with 8+ years of experience across various industries and joined Cision in 2023. Based in Copenhagen, he is our in-house specialist for all things related to social listening.