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Eight Things You Probably Do Not Know About Distributing Press Releases

by Marcia Yudkin

In recent years, while helping clients distribute press releases on PRWeb, Ereleases, Emailwire, Officialwire and a few other paid press release distribution services (and using those services myself), I have learned a few important pointers that I haven't seen other publicity experts discuss.

1. Press releases can deliver traffic for years. Every day, my web site gets visitors who have found and clicked from releases posted two years ago or earlier. Therefore, if you use press releases to promote a transitory event or limited-time product, either update your landing page from the release to something people can now buy or redirect traffic to that landing page to a closely related, still relevant page. 

Not all services keep your releases active indefinitely, however. One subscription service told me that if I didn't renew my account, all the releases I had posted through them would become invisible. Ask about this before buying a monthly or annual subscription to a distribution service.

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2. Google News - where journalists, researchers and news hounds like to search - keeps releases active for about a month. Thus, if you promote the same item or use the same set of keywords just once a month, you keep up your presence in Google News nicely. More often than that, you're not getting much additional bang for your effort and investment.

3. Always link to HTML pages. One client wanted to link directly from her release to a PDF document, and I told her to link to an HTML landing page instead. Why? If people downloaded the PDF from the release, they wouldn't be exposed to her web site and its descriptions of her other products and services. Also, media people consider offering publicity-related material in PDF format a sign of cluelessness.

Another client wanted to include a shopping cart "buy" link in her release - also not a good idea. Hardly anyone is ready or willing to buy after reading just a press release. They want the reassurance and credibility of reading more about the offering on a web site before pressing the "buy" button.

4. Twitter is a player now in press release distribution. One press release distribution service owner told me that 90% of the releases from his service now get tweeted. Sometimes it's "bots" that do this, but often it's humans. To maximize tweetability, keep your press release headlines at 100 characters or less, and do not use special characters, like $, %, & or @, in your headlines, as these can interfere with the way the "bots" are programmed.

5. Use graphics. Many of the distribution services now let you add a graphic or two to the release at no extra charge. Whenever possible, take advantage of this option, which helps your release attract more attention in a list of releases on a certain topic. For the graphic, use a product shot, a head shot of your CEO or the company logo.

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6. Don't limit yourself to launches. More than 80 percent of the time when a client hires me to write and distribute a release, it's for an upcoming event or a new product. However, trend stories and timeless tips are appropriate for press releases, too. In fact, I'm now in the process of rewriting the 100+ tips articles I've posted on article sites into press releases for a second, powerful hit of human attention and search engine love.

7. Convert "curly quotes" to straight ones. Some sites that reproduce press releases turn "curly quotes" into typographical junk. I always try to remember to change the quotation marks that Microsoft Word creates to the plain-text kind so the release remains readable.

8. More than one service gives you an advantage. The founder of a prominent press release service says, "There is absolutely no advantage to sending out the same release on more than one service." I disagree. Each press release distribution service has a different set of individuals who have opted in to their topical emails or RSS feeds. This can be significant. Because Google News may not index both versions, distributing the same release on two services doesn't give you twice the impact - but it does give you a bigger punch.

Copyright 2010 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

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