Drafting a newsworthy press release is an enviable skill to master, but unfortunately, that only gets the job halfway done. In order to get the maximum benefits out of your press release, you also need to know how to distribute it the right way.
This guide will walk you through the steps of submitting a press release so you can finally get the media coverage your announcement deserves, as well as address the following:
Why is submitting a press release important?
There are companies and organizations that draft great press releases to only end up publishing them on their own site. While there’s no harm in getting practice at press release drafting, this is kind of like writing someone a letter without ever putting it in the mail.
Now, don’t get us wrong, publishing a press release announcement on your company site can actually be a great PR move, in addition to being a good distribution start. But if you want the press release to be picked up by the media, you have to put in a bit more effort.
To successfully submit a press release, there are basically two options: submitting directly to journalists on your own, or using a press release submission service.
While neither option is perfect, and each has its drawbacks, remember that a successfully distributed press release can mean wide-ranging benefits, like expansion of target audience, website traffic increase and SEO improvement, and maybe even a boost in sales.
Should you use a press release distribution service?
In our PR strategy experience, though it can be a time-consuming process, submission via online distribution service is simply not as effective as submitting directly to journalists—and we’re not alone in that belief. In fact, according to a survey, 96% of PR professionals say direct contact via email is the most effective method for pitching media contacts.
That being said, using a press release distribution service can be quick and easy, and sometimes guarantee you at least some media coverage. But it also won’t help create lasting personal relationships with journalists, which is extremely valuable in the long run.
So, if your current goal is regular and sustained media coverage on an ongoing basis, it’s more useful for you to distribute your press release to journalists on your own.
What are the keys to submitting a press release to a journalist?
The recipe to successfully submitting your press release direct to journalists requires putting together the right contact list, creating an irresistible pitch, and knowing when to submit.
To help you get it just right, we’ve outlined the following step-by-step instructions to guide you:
1. The right contact list
The best way to find the right journalists for your contact database is to first research the publications that are the most relevant to your target audience.
Create a list of target journalists
Once you’ve researched target publications, sub-search journalists that have written about your relevant market or industry. Research journalists in each publication to compile your own list of target journalists that fit your company or organization’s niche.
Search for contact details
With your list of target journalists ready, start searching for contact details. The best way to find a journalist’s email address is by using a media database such as Anewstip or Press Hunt, or even an email finder tool such as Hunter.
Start creating relationships
Instead of bombarding target journalists with pitches, focus on creating relationships with them. Follow them on social media and provide high-value engagement. Twitter and LinkedIn are both specifically useful platforms for networking with journalists.
2. An irresistible pitch
Here’s a hard truth: 1 out of 4 journalists receive over 100 pitches a week, and the response rate is about 3%. So, if you want your press release in that 3%, do the following:
Craft a powerful subject line
Keep this short and sweet (less than 10 words), and be clear. It should be unique, but not hyperbolic. Remember, this is not a sales pitch. Using words like “disruptive” or “innovative” is a sure-fire way to get your pitch trashed. Share just enough to spark curiosity.
Keep it concise
There’s nothing worse than getting a pitch with a long preamble that doesn’t even clearly explain what the press release is about. Get straight to the point and explain why your announcement is relevant for the target publication. Keep your pitch between 100 and 200 words, maximum.
Personalize, personalize, personalize
Any veteran journalist is going to notice right away if you’re sending the same pitch template to a long mailing list of contacts.
So, if you want to catch their attention, show you’ve done your homework. Mention the kind of content their publication has covered in the past, relating it to your current announcement, or even refer to the journalist’s previous articles or social media posts.
Also, consider sending your contacts free (but useful!) merchandise, such as a coffee cup or a notepad with your company or orgnaization logo on it. If a journalist recognizes a brand name prior to a press release, they’re more likely to take the time to read your pitch.
3. Submission timing
Don’t just send out your pitch randomly when it’s ready. There is optimum timing for your pitch submission that is as specific as the pitch itself.
The general consensus among PR experts is that Tuesdays and Thursdays are actually the best days to send out a press release pitch. It’s also advisable to avoid Mondays, Friday afternoons, and of course weekends and holidays.
Midday proves to be the best time of day to submit, but that also depends on the contact you’re submitting to. Knowing the contact’s timezone, by the way, or even monitoring times they’re active online (on social media, for example), can help determine what’s best.
4. The follow up
If you’ve submitted your press release pitch and it’s been 3 to 7 days since you sent it off to a media contact, but you haven’t received a response yet, you can feel free to follow up.
However, keep this in mind: we don’t recommend sending any more than one follow up. Journalists get hundreds of emails every week, so if you want to establish relationships, it’s essential you don’t spam them with follow up emails and flood their inbox.
Another tip regarding follow ups: tweak the pitch angle again to highlight why the journalist should care. Give your announcement a second chance at the coverage it deserves.
Looking for more coverage options, check out our other press release guides:
New York Times press release submission
Reuters press release submission
Google news press release submission
How Intelligent Relations can help with press release submission
As you can see, though it takes time and effort, submitting your press release properly is essential for its media coverage success, and to reap its maximum benefits.
But, if you’re still unsure about starting the process, or don’t have the capacity to undertake it at all, let us help you. The PR experts at Intelligent Relations can assist at every step of the press release process—from drafting to distribution—and take all that weight off your shoulders.