Decoding News Release Distribution For Small To Mid-Sized Companies

On August 18, 2022

Okay, Sherman, set the Wayback controls to 1992!

Back then, earned media placements were rolled off the copy machine, stapled together, and inserted into binders for senior management to review. Business Wire and PR Newswire were the only news release distribution services available.

It would cost you a premium if you wanted to include a picture with your press release distribution. In addition, each backlink was charged like off-network cell minutes, a.k.a., unnecessarily expensive. On the other hand, if you had a video, you could upload it to a satellite for broadcast media to access for a small loan.

Today, dozens of news release distribution services are fighting for a company’s business. They offer slightly different services, but their goal is the same, i.e., to get your news out to a specific audience. But precisely what is that audience, or more importantly, who is receiving the information?

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Most news release services’ national distribution targets a wide variety of news outlets. As a result, the headline and verbatim pickups are well-listed on each distribution report. If you’re a Fortune 500 company, you’ll get a lot of attention from well-known news sources such as AP, Yahoo Finance, and MarketWatch placements. If you are not a Fortune 500 company, you may receive some notable pickups, but most of them will be small, unrecognizable news sources that don’t appear on a Google News search.

The lack of national press leaves most small to mid-sized businesses relying on vertical distribution options. All news release services offer vertical distribution, but their selections are sometimes limited. For example, most distribution services will have a technology vertical, which is quite nebulous. If their vertical distribution is to all B2C personal technology and your company is offering hyper-scale cloud services, that vertical distribution will not do you any good!

Even if the best-fit vertical distribution is offered for your hyper-scale cloud services, you will often not know who will receive the news at these publications. Typically, a general news desk captures hundreds of daily news releases like eyeballs on a viral Tik-Tok video. So the chances of your news release standing out –and getting into the hands of the journalist who covers the hyper-scale beat–is slim. 

Why Use A News Release Distribution Service?

There are advantages to using news release distribution services for small to mid-sized companies, and it all starts with a well-written release. Placing an AP-Style news release on the wire tells journalists that you are a credible source and worth reading. Many publications have a limited number of journalists; they will often take an AP-Style news release and post it on their website or select portions, add commentary, and post it as written by an editor. An editor who chooses pieces of your release to post means that your exact message is registered and validates the release’s newsworthiness. In addition, writing a release in the style editors want their viewers to read makes their job of selecting news much more manageable. 

How Do I Get The Right Journalist To See My Release?

Having your release in the general newsdesk pit from a distribution is an unfortunate situation. Your best bet for attention is a perfect headline. Unfortunately, stellar headline writing is a lost art. Your next best option is to have a PR practitioner at your disposal who has a relationship with the exact journalist who has been assigned to cover your news. With a quick email, a PR person can capture the journalist’s attention and forward them the release for consideration. Many journalists will do a quick Google search to see where the news has been picked up; this is where the postings in Yahoo Finance and MarketWatch come in handy from the distribution. And, of course, they also want to see the news posted on the issuing company’s website.

Because of the PR/journalist relationship, the PR person can also suggest different angles to cover and help the journalist round their story out by setting up interview calls with company spokespersons. In addition to news coverage, editors often request the company’s subject matter experts to write 500 to 1200-word byline articles to run in their publications. Bylines are an outstanding opportunity to create thought leadership in vendor-neutral ways while embedding backlinks in the copy for SEO and website traffic enhancements. 

We Only Scratched The Surface

Other advantages to using news distribution services range from driving traffic to your website to appearing on Google search results. In addition, most distribution services will leave your release posted to their services for an extended period, allowing others to find your news well into the future.

However, with any service, there is always a quid pro quo, i.e., in return for your money, you will receive various benefits. These services range from same-day issuing to an expert editor reviewing your news before its release and pricing, bundling, and contract considerations.

For more information from folks who have experience using many of these services, check out this ebook, “What’s the deal with news release distribution?” This resource will provide additional information to help you make the best-fit decision.

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