by Milind Mody, eBrandz
It is widely believed that the first press release was issued over 100
years ago by Ivy Lee on behalf of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which had just
suffered a tragic accident. The press release was issued to prevent alternate
versions of the accident from being spread among the press. And, 100 years later
the intent of a press release hasn’t changed. It remains a valuable resource in
any marketer’s tool kit. But its importance in the Internet age and the world of
search engine optimization has never been greater.
Top 5 reasons to write a Press Release
1) Organic Traffic: With their Universal Search protocol, Google has
started showing press releases in organic search results. If your press release
is well-optimized, it can rank for two to three days in Google organic results.
The press release can also get traffic from Google News and other news
2) Link Building: You can use your important keywords as anchor text and
link them to relevant pages on your website. When the press release is
distributed these links will be picked up by distribution partners. Links from
many of these sites will not be counted, but some of them will.
3) Reputation Management: If someone has criticized your company, one
sure way to get the criticism off the first page of Google Blog Search or Google
search results is to issue multiple press releases. Of course, if you want to do
a professional job, then you need to get external links to your press releases
and bookmark and tag these releases.
4) Bloggers and Web 2.0 Audience: Many bloggers subscribe to online press
release distribution services like PRWeb. If your press release interests them,
they might blog about it and give a link to your press release or your website.
If you consistently reach out to this audience, you can get significant links,
traffic and sales from them.
5) Traffic from Traditional Media: If your press release interests
journalists, they will follow up with you and write a story about your business.
This will most certainly lead to a short term boost in your website traffic and
Wire Services and an Online Distribution
Wire services distribute press releases to traditional media outlets like
newspapers, magazines, radio stations and news agencies like Reuters and the
Associated Press. If your main objective is to target journalists, then use a
traditional wire service.
The other option is online distribution — targeted to journalists or bloggers
who sign up to receive emails from a particular industry, category or
sub-category. Popular news aggregator websites like Google News and Yahoo News
are also targeted. Additionally, many bloggers subscribe to distribution and
news feeds. Chances are one press release from a good online distribution
service will get you multiple listings spread across Google News, Search and
Blogsearch. For the widest reach, consider both wire services and online.
The difference in distribution methods can be summed up as push vs. pull. Wire
services push press releases to media outlets, while consumers pull information from online services like PRWeb through email alerts and RSS
Press Release Basics
Most wire distribution services charge by blocks of 375 or 400 words. That
includes title, a brief summary, body of the release and contact information. If
the release is more than the word limit, you will be charged extra per 100
words. Images, video, documents or podcasts are also charged extra. But many
online PR distribution sites do not have the typical 400 words limit. Image and
document attachment is also commonly provided with the basic service.
Before turning loose your press release, decide where you will make the most
impact. Wire distribution services classify a press release into:
1) National Release: Targets all national media outlets for a particular
industry like Automotive, Consumer, Sports, Technology or Travel.
2) Regional Release: The four main regions are Northeast (includes New
York and New Jersey), Southeast (includes Florida and Virginia), Midwest (includes Illinois and Ohio) and West/Southwest (includes California and
3) State and Local Release: New York State and New York Metro can be two
different options. In general, New York-related distribution is expensive,
because of the high number of media outlets in the region.
4) International Release: Again, there are many classifications and
sub-classifications of an international release based on countries and/or continents.
Apart from the above categories, some wire services also target Hispanic,
African-American and North American Chinese media outlets.
Keep in mind that you should draft and submit your press release two days in
advance, because most wire services will call for a verbal confirmation before
With online services you can specify 5-10 industries to target. By default, the
region is set to global but if your release applies to a specific city or
region, you need to choose the appropriate setting. Any journalists or bloggers
who have subscribed to releases for that region will then receive your release.
Now that you have decided what type of distribution service you will use and
where you will target your audience, it’s time for the most important part —
creating effective, compelling press releases.
Seven Tips for Writing a Press Release
1) Unique Value Proposition: Instead of writing a press release for
simply the launch of your product or service, create a press release around your
unique value proposition. This should include those special attributes making
your service better than the competition.
2) Avoid Hyperbole: Keep your language natural and tone conversational.
Nothing is more counter-productive than a jargon-filled sales pitch. Report facts.
3) Optimize your Press Release for Search: Include your most important
keywords in the press release title and first paragraph, but not at the cost of important information. Hyperlink important pages with suitable
keywords as anchor text.
4) Create an Online Press Room: Because only limited information can be
included in a press release, it’s a good idea to create an “Online Press Room”
on your website. It should list your media contact with an email address and
direct phone number, contain a high-resolution logo of your company in various
formats (JPEG, PSD, CDR) and high-resolution photos of key people in your
organization. Point links to important products, case studies, client comments,
press releases and media coverage. Provide a link to this page on all press
5) Create Google and Yahoo Alerts: Create Google and Yahoo alerts with
your company or individual name. This will help you see which websites are covering your press releases.
6) Decide your objective: If the primary objective of your press release
is online reputation management, then you might want to go for a service like
PRWeb. However, if you think there is an angle in your press release which can
appeal to journalists, use a wire service that also has SEO options.
7) Use Stock Tickers: If your company is not publicly listed, but
associated with a listed company (i.e. if the listed company is your client) you
can ask their permission to include their stock ticker in your press release.
This will help you get visibility across all journalists who will be searching
for the listed company.
Press releases can be extremely valuable for both short- and long-term purposes.
If you are not yet convinced or feel that you need some practice, start with a free service, then move on to professional service.
However, a single press release will not give you much exposure. Try to write at
least six press releases a year that will cover your unique value proposition,
good customer experience, and awards and recognitions.
PR Newswire: PR Newswire is the biggest name in press release distribution
service. It is also the most expensive. A 400-word national release can cost
$680 and $185 for additional 100 words. A 400-word release with a photo will
cost $1,325. Regional distribution will cost less. The national release includes
SEO, but for other distribution options, add $255. If you don’t want a national
release, search for PR Newswire partners
like WebWire, which offers a 15 percent discount.
Business Wire: Business Wire was taken over by Warren Buffet’s Hathaway
Berkshire last year. In general, Business Wire costs 8-10 percent less than PR
Newswire. Business Wire has partnered with Vocus/PRWeb which powers their
Enhanced Online News Text optimization tool. Through PRWeb, Business Wire can
produce SEO-friendly press releases while PRWeb can now provide traditional wire
service to their clients.
Marketwire: A 400-word national release on Marketwire costs $460 with $150 extra
for additional 100 words, less for regional and state/local distribution.
Additional photos cost $50, SEO enhancement costs $75 and audio/video links cost
$75 each. Customer service is good, making Marketwire is a nice option if you
are price conscious.
PRWeb: PRWeb is not a wire service, but an email-based service. Journalists or
bloggers who signup with PRWeb receive a daily email from PRWeb based on their
preferences. The release is also distributed to other websites that subscribe to
PRWeb feeds. The basic service at PRWeb starts at $80 per release. Their SEO
visibility service starts at $200 and there is a podcast interview option for
$100, where one of PRWeb’s staff will conduct a four to five minute interview
with you. This is a great option for business owners who want their press
releases to stand out but don’t have time or energy to produce their own
Free Distribution: Apart from these main services, there are some free online
distribution services like openPR.com and PRLog.org. These websites are
regularly crawled by Google News. But a word of caution: These free sites make
money by displaying Google AdSense ads alongside your press release. It’s
entirely possible that your competitor’s ads are shown alongside your press
About the Author: Milind Mody is founder CEO of SEO firm eBrandz Inc.
Part of eBrandz’s service performs search marketing for a division of United
Business Media, parent company of PR Newswire.