Press Release Distribution: The Ultimate Guide for 2020

Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi
21 minute read

This is the ultimate guide to press release distribution. 

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  • What is press release distribution?
  • Why is it important?
  • What mistakes you need to avoid
  • Which press release distribution services can you trust?

You’ll find all the answers here.

Let’s dive right into it.

What is Press Release Distribution?

Before we get in-depth about how to successfully distribute a press release, let’s first establish what we mean by press release distribution.

I’d like to share the following definition by Hubspot.

Hubspot Press Release Distribution Definition

Put another way, press release distribution is the process of disseminating your press release to members of the press and journalists.

Additionally, it’s the action of circulating your press releases to bloggers, influencers, and publishers that will further distribute your press release and, therefore, promote your content.

However, before we even reach the step of distribution, we have to make sure that we’ve written a great press release.

First,  creating a press release can be challenging, so feel free to consult our guide on how to write a press release. It helps!

Once completed, distributing a press release, although not an easy task either, is the next essential part of the overall process.

If you don’t want your efforts of writing a press release to be for nothing, you should do your best to distribute your press releases.

This process is more important for smaller businesses that want to broaden their reach and audience, ultimately raising awareness of their brand.

I’d like to use an example that’s connected to the current situation and preoccupations.

The graph below comes from our press release guide that I mentioned above.

Respona Google Trends screenshot Press Release Graph

It shows the upward interest in press releases during the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in March 2020.

During that time, a rather large number of companies published press releases, thus making the process of effective distribution even more important and, in fact, necessary in order to get press releases seen by as many people that’d be interested as possible.

Simply put, the online world is competitive in terms of the quantity of content that’s being released daily.

For that reason, the process of circulating your press release is clearly important for making sure that your work won’t go unnoticed.

I’m using the following example to make this a bit more clear.

Back in 2019, Brian Dean launched the Content Marketing Hub.

He published the following post to communicate the launch of the new section on his website.

Backlinko Content Marketing Hub post
Image Source: Backlinko

Given what we’ve said about distribution, he must have used other methods to distribute the press release and make sure that his content would reach an even wider audience than the one that already reads his blog.

Brian posted it on LinkedIn.

Brian Dean Linkedin post Content Marketing Hub
Image Source: LinkedIn

Next, he posted it on Twitter as well.

Brian Dean Twitter post Content Marketing Hub
Image Source: Twitter

Do you get it now?

Press release distribution is all about circulating your content and reaching the biggest numbers you can.

Even blogs that reach a big audience, like Backlinko’s, need to spread their news and let people know about launches, new products, and any other news in relation to their business.

Let’s move on to discuss why press release distribution is important.

Why Does Press Release Distribution Matter?

Now that you know what press release distribution is all about, let’s talk about its importance.

Why does it matter so much?

In a few words, effective press release distribution will make the process of writing a press release worth it.

Press release distribution is essential so you can make sure that the content you want to share is going to reach the right people and won’t go unnoticed.

The process of distributing your content is basically a step in content promotion.

In plain English, no one is going to be aware of your content, news, and services if you don’t bother sharing your press releases and distributing them to journalists and publishers, as I mentioned before.

Let’s now take a closer look at some reasons that explain the benefits of press release distribution for your business.

Reason #1: It helps with SEO

Press releases are great when you want to spread the word and get attention.

However, that’s not their only function.

Believe it or not, effective press release distribution can boost your SEO.

According to Hubspot,

Hubspot Press Release Distribution Boost your SEO
Image Source: HubSpot

Editor’s Note: Even though there are no studies indicating that there is a correlation between press release and higher rankings, many PR and SEO professionals believe that successful press releases can indeed help with SEO. 

In other words, press releases lead your pieces to reach top searches and rank higher.

And what comes with it?

Interest and backlinks.

People are more likely to find, hear, and read about you when your online presence gets noticed through your news stories.

And that’s where effective distribution kicks in.

Because press releases can generate interest, they can ultimately lead to backlinks, which are really good for SEO.

You definitely want to make sure that you’re distributing your press release effectively  so that you reach the top spots of online searches and  therefore boost your SEO.

Reason #2: Get media coverage and raise brand awareness

The second reason that makes press release distribution so important is that it helps you get media coverage and it enhances brand building activities.  

In other words, press releases help you reach a wider audience and raise business awareness.

Consequently, by distributing them, you come closer to achieving both these ultimate goals for every business.

A Backlinko post on search engine ranking reveals some very interesting findings.

One of the findings that I’d like to draw your attention to is the following:

Backlinko Sites Overall Authority Higher Rankings
Image Source: Backlinko

The screenshot below will make it a bit more clear.

Backlinko Graph a Website s Overall Link Authority Correlates to Higher 1st Page Google rankings
Image Source: Backlinko

To put it simply, by getting media coverage like mentions and links, you improve your Domain Rating (DR).

As a result, you have more chance of getting further visibility on the SERPs.

Another finding from the blog post mentioned above, the one by Backlinko, is this:

Backlinko the Number of Domains Linking To a Page Correlation with Rankings
Image Source: Backlinko

What does this mean?

It means that domain diversity, when it comes to links and mentions, can really make a difference in terms of your rankings. 

More specifically, the more referring domains you get to link back to the piece, the higher your rankings will be.

Ultimately, getting brand mentions online helps improve your DR, which boosts your website’s overall authority, and it also raises brand awareness and brings more and more media coverage and attention to your business.

Reason #3: Connect with influencers and thought experts

The last reason I have for you in relation to the importance of press release distribution is the following.

Effective distribution could lead to connecting your business with influencers and thought experts.

Distribution of your content helps you to create valuable connections with bloggers, industry experts, and journalists.

All categories of professionals mentioned above are very likely to promote and boost your business.

Let’s look at an example coming from the Twitter account of the world-renowned American newspaper, The New York Times.

New York Times Twitter Promoting Smaller Businesses
Image Source: Twitter

The screenshot above depicts just one of the many stories that the NY Times posted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The stories showcase how small businesses across the US are dealing with the restrictions of the pandemic.

By posting such stories, the newspaper definitely helps these businesses tell their stories to the huge audience that the NY Times have, and therefore help them promote their business and raise awareness.

We don’t know how these stories reached the newspaper in the first place, but for the sake of this example we could assume that it happened through the press release distribution process.

This appears to be effective in terms of making connections between the audience that you already have and the audience of media outlets.

The same would apply for communicating your content to news agencies like the Associated Press, or broadcast television and radio networks such as CBS, Fox etc., or influencers and bloggers.

In other words, distribution can be a creative and effective way to approach people and thus reach their networks which have some sort of influence on large numbers of people.

By distributing your press release, while avoiding the mistakes that are going to be discussed right after, you might be able to boost your network and connect with influencers, journalists, bloggers, and industry experts.

Keep reading to make sure you’re not making any of the mistakes below when distributing your press releases.

4 Press Release Distribution Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve discussed the reasons why press release distribution is a process of great importance.

Let’s now discuss some of the common mistakes that businesses tend to do when distributing their content and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Having the wrong target audience

The first, and most common, mistake is that companies usually distribute their content to the wrong target audience or don’t really try to reach the right one.

What does that mean?

To make it more clear, I’m using the following finding from a Backlinko’s analysis on outreach emails.

Backlinko Outreach Emails
Image Source: Backlinko

In other words, only a very small percentage of the total outreach emails that are being sent out daily manage to get a response.

The chart below illustrates the finding.  

Backlinko Outreach Emails Chart
Image Source: Backlinko

That means a huge percentage of them get ignored, therefore keeping us some steps behind in the process of effectively distributing and promoting content.

And no one wants that, right?

Mistake #2: Going too long with your copy

The second mistake that you should definitely be avoiding in terms of press release distribution is going way too long with the copy that you’re sending out.

By that I mean that you should keep the length of your email short.

According to a publisher survey by Fractl,

Fractl Email Length
Image Source: Fractl

However, when it comes to the subject line of your email, there’s no need to keep it short.

On the contrary, the Backlinko analysis shows that publishers are more likely to read and respond to an outreach email with a long subject line.

See below:

Backlinko Outreach Emails Subject Lines chart
Image Source: Backlinko

That can be explained because a long subject line will most probably be more concise and descriptive of the content of your message.

Moving on.

There are two more mistakes that you should stay away from.

Mistake #3: Being too self promotional

The third mistake I’d like to draw your attention to is being too self promotional.

This won’t help you promote and distribute your content effectively.

Fractl’s survey revealed that publishers don’t like overly promotional content.

Fractl Overly Promotional Pitch
Image Source: Fractl

On the contrary, because publishers receive a huge number of pitches daily, they prefer to find unique and authentic content that’s not focusing entirely on over-promoting the person or business that sent out the pitch to them.

Makes sense, right?

Mistake #4: Not being clear on to how people can reach you

The last thing to avoid is to be unclear on how people can reach you and your business.

Providing contact information, like your social media accounts, will help the people that read your press release to find you without any effort.

In other words, your press release should be leading back to your business. That’s why you wrote it in the first place.

The chart below confirms the importance of your press release linking to your social media accounts as an effective and easy way for publishers to get back to you.

Backlinko Study Press Release Linking to Social Profiles chart
Image Source: Backlinko

Simply put, linking your press releases with your contact details can result in higher response rates.

Below         I’m showing how big companies like Apple provide their contact details to anyone who wants to reach out to them in relation to their news stories.

The screenshot comes from a press release from the Apple Newsroom.

Apple Press Release Contact Details
Image Source: Apple

Big companies like Apple include press contact information at the bottom of their press releases so that anyone can reach them and ask for additional information in relation to their product and overall content of their press release.

Smaller businesses that are using outreach emails should always try to provide nice and clear communication paths and contact details.

This way, publishers can pick up essential contact information and be able to get in touch with the business in the future.

We’re now moving on analyzing in more detail the whole process of distributing a press release.

How to Distribute a Press Release

In general, there are two ways to distribute a press release:

  1. Using a press release distribution service
  2. Doing the distribution yourself

Needless to say that, by choosing the first way, you’ll need to lay out money for public relations firms and press release services which aren’t cheap.

This may not be a problem for big companies and large corporations, but it’s definitely something that most small businesses can’t afford. 

Thus, your option is simple:

You have to distribute your press release yourself.

To do that, you need a) someone who’ll handle the outreach process and b) PR outreach software.

For the sake of example, we’ll assume that we at Respona have just published a new feature on how to use HARO with Respona.

This means that we want to distribute our press release to bloggers, publications, and media sites that would be interested in giving us a mention or linking back to our site.

The first step to take when you distribute press releases is to start a new campaign with Respona.

Start a New Campaign in Respona

First, we need to give our campaign a name and click “Create”.

Give Name to Our Campaign

Then, you need to choose what kind of campaign you want to create.

Here, you have two options:

  1. Search
  2. Import
Options for New Campaign in Respona

Searching has to do with searching for prospects using Respona’s built-in search engine, while importing can be used when you already have a list of prospects of media contacts that you want to reach out to.

Since we don’t have a media database, we’re going to choose “Search” for our PR distribution campaign and let Respona do the hard work of prospecting for us.  

The first thing that we need to do after choosing the type of campaign we want to run is to find opportunities.

Opportunities in “Search” mode are found by inserting a relevant keyword into the search bar, similar to what you’d do if you were using a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Author’s Note: Respona’s search engine is powered by Bing, meaning results are a bit different than the ones you’d see in Google search.

Find Opportunities With Respona 1

The keyword we’re going to use is “HARO”.

Insert Keyword

The next thing that you need to choose is what kind of search you want to conduct.

Respona gives you the following options:

  • Blogs: to search for content pages among the search results
  • News: to search for news sites and media outlets among the search results
  • People: to search for people among the search results
  • Podcasts: to search for podcasts among the search results
  • Web search: to conduct a general search and include all search results
Choose to Conduct a Web Search

Since our HARO feature announcement isn’t a news release or news content that needs to be covered by a news site and news outlets, we’ll choose “Web Search” as our option for search.

Also, we’re not looking for podcasts that we could be featured on.

Essentially, what we’re looking for is content distribution, so our option when it comes to search type is “Blogs”.

After choosing a keyword and the type of search we want to conduct, it’s time to set some filters.

The filtering options that Respona gives us are the following:

  • Market: specific countries we want to get results for
  • Freshness: the timeframe we want to conduct the search for
  • Respona Score: a score that Respona assigns to each opportunity
  • Domain Authority: Domain Authority (DA) by Moz
  • Backlinks: the number of backlinks that the result should have
  • Website: if we want to get results for specific domains
  • Search Fields: advanced search parameters
  • Search Ranking: the position that the page is ranking for
Respona Filters

For this campaign, we’re not going to choose any filters.

The only thing we’re going to do is put our target keyword in quotation marks to get results that exactly match our query.

Add Quotation Marks to Keyword

To see a list of the advanced search operators you can use with Respona, just click on “Advanced Search”.

Advanced Search Operators 1

Last but not least, make sure that the button “SEO Metrics” is on, and click enter.

SEO Metrics Button

Author’s Note: Conducting a search without SEO Metrics will display results without metrics like DA, Respona Score, or Search Ranking. Make sure you enable that option when conducting a search.

Here’s what we see after clicking the search button:

Respona Results 1

As you can see, we got 306,000 results.

At first sight, some of the results at the top seem really promising.

Now, I’m not going to tell you how to “judge” those results to see which ones qualify for your campaign.

That’s something you need to figure out for yourself.

All I’m going to say is that, at this point, you need to basically choose your prospects carefully.

Some people think that the more the prospects, the better the results.

However, that’s not always true.

According to an email outreach study by Backlinko, “email sequences with multiple attempts and multiple contacts boost response rates by 160%.”

Email Sequence That Involves Multiple Contacts
Image Source: Backlinko

This means that there is a correlation between the number of contacts you choose to make and the number of responses you get.

However, these are contacts from the same company; there are no studies proving that the more prospects you’re trying to reach, the better the results.

What you should pay attention to is reaching out to the right prospects and communicating the right message.

I believe that this is something that most PR professionals and press release services will agree with.

Having said that, choose as many prospects for your campaign as possible, whilst making sure that they’re relevant to what you want to communicate.

If they’re not relevant, then you can’t expect to get great results out of this effort.

Selected Opportunities for Outreach Campaign

As you can see, we’ve chosen 20 opportunities for this campaign.

Next, we need to create an email sequence.

With most press release distribution companies, you won’t be able to adjust the pitch for your prospects.

Of course, you could argue that these companies have wide distribution networks.

In part, this is why you pay so much money to use them.

Respona gives you two options when it comes to creating a sequence:

  1. Use one of the tool’s ready-to-use templates
  2. Create your own template
Create a Sequence

In our example, we’re going to use one of Respona’s templates, the “Content Promotion” one.

Choose an Email Sequence Template

Author’s Note: Public Relations can work as well. However Content Promotions fits better in our example.

As you can see, the template below already has two emails included in the sequence.

Two Emails in Template

All we’re going to do is make some minor adjustments so that the content of the email fits better with the purpose of that specific campaign.

Here’s what the email pitch looks like before making any changes:

Email Pitch Before Making Changes

As you can see below, Respona grades the content of the email, both the body text and the subject line, as we add and remove words.

Chance of Getting a Reply

The email, the way it is now, before making any changes, has a high chance of getting a reply.

Let’s see what the first email of the sequence looks like after making the necessary changes.

Email After Changes

As you can see, we’ve inserted the topic in the subject line of our email pitch.

We’ve also changed the way we present our new blog post that mentions our new HARO feature.

In addition, we’ve inserted the URL of the blog post and we’ve included  a question asking our prospect whether they’d be interested in featuring our content in their article.

Last but not least, we ask the prospect if they’d like to try out the feature themselves by setting up a free account for them.

All in all, this email has everything it takes to get a positive reply.

  1. It’s short and clear
  2. It addresses the right audience
  3. It gives a clear path as to what are the next steps

In the same way we adjusted the first email of the sequence, we’ll make adjustments to the second email of the sequence.

Here’s what the email will look like:

Second Email After Adjustments

Author’s Note: Mentioning the number of followers you have on social media is optional. It can be a way to give an extra boost to our prospects, but we understand that not all companies have a huge following on social media. Thus, feel free to remove it if your audience isn’t that big.

When we finish editing our sequence, we click on “Next Step“.

Click on Next Step 3

In the next step of the process, we have to map the opportunities in our list to specific contacts.

Let see how that works for the first opportunity in our list:

https://ahrefs.com/blog/haro-link-building/

As you can see, Respona has found 20 contacts for that opportunity.

Unmapped Opportunities in Respona

If we visit the article, we’ll see that the author of the blog post, Christopher Gimmer…

Author of Blog Post on Ahrefs Blog
Image Source: Ahrefs

… Happens to be the first contact on Respona’s list of recommended contacts.

Finding the Right Contact

At this point, all we need to do is click on “Get Contact”.

Once you click on “Get Contact”, you’ll be able to choose one of the email addresses Respona has found for this contact.

After choosing the right, or at least the best possible, email, you can click on “Assign”.

Choose Email for Contact

Once the email has been assigned, we’ll see the button turn green and be labeled as “Assigned”.

Assigned Email to Contact

To increase the chances of getting a reply, we can connect with our prospects on LinkedIn, something you can do simply by clicking on the LinkedIn icon right below the image for each of the prospects on your list.

Showcase the LinkedIn Icon for Respona Prospect

According to a study by Backlinko, “linking to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram profiles positively affect response rates.”

Linking to Social Media Profiles May Improve Outreach Response Rates
Image Source: Backlinko

This shows us that visiting your social media profiles could be one of the things prospects do when deciding whether or not to reply to an email they receive.

Thus, we always recommend connecting with your prospects prior to sending them an email.

Of course, that’s not possible when it comes to large scale outreach campaigns.

For the purpose of our example though – remember, we have only 20 opportunities – connecting with them before sending an email is the right thing to do.

After finding the email for the first prospect in our list of opportunities, we can move forward with the rest of the prospects.

Once we’re done, we just have to click, once more, on “Next Step”.

You’ll notice that next to each prospect, or opportunity, there’s an icon calling for your attention.

Attention Icon

This means that we have to take care of something before launching our campaign.

This “something” is to insert the article summary that we haven’t included when crafting our email.

Insert Article Summary

In Respona, you can easily insert the summary or a snippet of the article you’re referring to simply by choosing one of the excerpts in the right of the screen.

Excerpts for Article Summary

In our example, we’re going to use this one.

Copy Excerpt 1

Next, we’re going to paste this into the area that was highlighted in yellow.

Paste Excerpt

That’s it, you just personalized your email and have shown that you actually read the article that your prospect has written!

This helps you make press release writing a dime.

When you finish editing your piece, you’ll notice that the opportunity will be ready and the attention icon will be replaced with a done icon.

Opportunity is Ready

From there, all you need to do is click on “Launch Campaign” and manage communications with your prospects.

Launch Campaign 1

There you have it.

You now have an almost free press release distribution channel for your next press release.

Respona is user-friendly PR software to help you get your press releases noticed by the right people at the right time.

If you don’t want to distribute the press release yourself, you have to find a trustworthy press release distribution service.

Luckily for you, we’ve listed the nine best services in the upcoming section.

10 Best Press Release Distribution Services

Now that I’ve talked you through the overall process of how to distribute a press release, I’ve got a list of the 10 best release distribution services currently available for you.

Let’s discuss their main attributes along with some facts about each one of them.

Service #1: Respona

The first service I have for you is Respona.

Respona Homepage

Respona is a PR outreach and link building tool that can help you get coverage and distribute your press releases manually.

It’s all-in-one powerhouse when it comes to digital PR and content promotion.

Make sure to ask a demo to see what Respona can do for you.  

Year Founded: 2019

Number of Employees: 1-10

Specialization: Manual outreach for online press release distribution

Service #2: PRWeb (by CISION)

The second service I have for you is PRWeb by Cision.

PRWeb Homepage
Image Source: PRWeb

The company offers a number of new and upgraded tools that can help you increase your reach to your target audience and raise brand awareness.

Year Founded: 1997

Number of Employees: 5,100 (Cision, incl. subdivisions)

Specialization: Online press release distribution service

Service #3: PR Newswire

The second distribution service on my list is PR Newswire.

PR Newswire Homepage
Image Source: PRNewswire

PRNewswire is one of the best and oldest press release distribution networks.

The company provides news distribution, targeting, monitoring, and marketing solutions for businesses.

Year Founded: 1954

Number of Employees: 5,100 (Cision, incl. subdivisions)

Specialization: Press release distribution service

Service #4: eReleases

One of the best distribution services I have for you is eReleases.

eReleases Homepage
Image Source: eReleases

According to their founder, Mickie Kennedy, “traditional print and broadcast journalism continue to be important means to promote ideas, share exciting news, and establish a brand identity”.

The company provides press release distribution services and connections with major media outlets.

Year Founded: 1998

Number of Employees: 12

Specialization: Traditional press release distribution

Service #5: ReleaseWire

ReleaseWire is the next press release distribution service I have for you.

ReleaseWire Homepage
Image Source: ReleaseWire

The service provides press release distribution, multimedia distribution, and media contact management.

Additionally, they analyze your results and help you create engaging content and effective engagement processes.

Year Founded: 2005

Number of Employees: 11-50

Specialization: Online newswire service and media engagement platform

Service #6: Presswire

Moving down the list, Presswire is also one of the best press release distribution services in the marketplace.

PressWire Homepage
Image Source: Presswire

Using their Media Contacts Database that comprises hundreds of media contacts, the company offers online syndication and regional, national, and international press release distribution.

Year Founded: 2001

Number of Employees: 36

Specialization: Press release distribution, press release tracking, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and media monitoring

Service #7: Business Wire

Another press release distribution service that I want to inform you about is Business Wire.

Business Wire Homepage
Image Source: Business Wire

Business Wire provides public relations services, investor relations for financial disclosure, and news stories as well as press release distribution.

As part of their services they also do social media analytics.

Year Founded: 1961

Number of Employees: 500

Specialization: Press release distribution and regulatory disclosure

Service #8: Send2Press

The next press release news distribution service I’m including in this list is Send2Press.  

Send2press Homepage
Image Source: Send2Press

The company provides targeted press release circulation.

In addition, they offer professional writing services for press releases with accredited staff.

Year Founded: 1983

Number of Employees: 5

Specialization: Press release distribution and press release writing services.

Service #9: PR Underground

Here’s the second to last service. It’s PR Underground.

PR Underground Homepage
Image Source: PR Underground

PR Underground provides online press release distribution.

More specifically, they cover Google News, social media, and a number of TV and news websites.  

Year Founded: 2007

Number of Employees: 9

Specialization: Online press release distribution service

Service #10: Pressat

And here’s our last press release distribution service, under the name Pressat.

Pressat Homepage
Image Source: Pressat

Pressat is one of the leading press release distribution services in the UK.

They provide circulation services across journalists and major media outlets.

They also offer to spread news for businesses in the UK and internationally.

Year Founded: 2010

Number of Employees: 4

Specialization: Press release distribution services

Now Over to You

There you have it.

You now know what a good press release is all about.

You also have a great template for your next product launch.

Now that you have a proven framework for an effective press release, I’d like to hear from you. 

Have you ever tried to write a press release? If so, have you used a service to distribute or did you did it yourself?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi is the co-founder of Respona, the all-in-one PR and link building tool that combines personalization with productivity.He runs the marketing efforts at Visme, where he helped the company gain over 5 million users and pass 1.5M monthly organic traffic. Since then, he’s been helping other companies achieve the same success via Respona.

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