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press release distribution

The Wicked Witch of Online Syndication is Dead: Why We’re No Longer Offering Syndicated Press Release Distribution

$6,100.00.

That’s what one big brand was spending per month on press release distribution, according to a study by marketing agency owner Tim Grice, posted on Moz in 2012.

That’s a huge number.

For the past year now, at Express Writers, we’ve offered syndicated online press release distribution to all of our customers, at rates well below what our former news partner charged on their own site. Our clients got a good deal—and we felt happy to offer it to them.

That is, until this October—when we stood back and looked at the actual benefit of online, syndicated news. I even got two experts on the line to help me dig up solid truths about this industry. (I’m indebted to Steve Rayson at BuzzSumo for pulling metrics and data for me, and Tim Grice at Branded3 for an updated quote.)

Our findings weren’t good, by any means.

That’s why we’re calling our findings the wicked witch of online press syndication and turning it into a Halloween post.

Here’s the (in the spirit of Halloween—cold, dead) truth: if you’re paying for syndicated news, you might just be wasting every single dollar you sink into that channel.

Don’t just be frightened by the witch: know the facts and make an informed decision the next time you choose to put your money into syndicated news (or not).

online press release distribution

The Story Behind the Study: What Inspired Me to Take a Deeper Look at Press Release Distribution

I’d noticed a pattern: in 2012, when we started offering distribution, I saw amazing, fast results in Google. For instance, one press release we did back then was about a stuffed toy. Their keyword, a solid, low competition long-tail, ranked #3 in Google in just days—the #3 result was their actual PRWeb release. Now that was value!

But I haven’t seen this happen since that day. And we’re talking out of dozens to hundreds of press releases that our team has written and distributed by now. On average, we distribute 6-10 press releases for clients in a month. We have so many clients that complain about the reports we send them. “This is all the data and results we get?” And the truth is: we didn’t really have an answer for them. The quality of the news results online was finicky. I’d see an online Fox station pick it up—and then it would be gone the next day, when I was ready to send the link to the client. Results weren’t permanent. And nothing showed in the first page of Google for their (great) long-tail news keywords.

The more I saw this happening, the more I realized I needed to research syndicated distribution. A bad feeling in my gut drove me to do it before we renewed our contract this year. And sure enough, what I found was pretty dire.

To make my research and findings official, I got in touch with my friend Steve Rayson, Director at BuzzSumo, for an exclusive study: and even got in touch personally with Tim Grice from Branded3.com, the author of the Moz piece, for some updated findings.

Let’s dive in to the findings.

Interview with Tim Grice: The Cold, Hard, Dead Truth of Syndicated Online Press Release Distribution

Here’s what Tim Grice had to say, when I sat down with him to discuss his Moz post and what he’d say about online press syndication currently as it stands in 2016.

Julia: You shared your findings on how budgets are being wasted with online press release syndication, back in 2012. Would you say it’s become an even bigger waste of budget in 2016? Or have you seen brands adapting, and investing less in online PR?

Tim: The Moz post is specifically referring to online PR syndication (PR Newswire, etc). SEO agencies and in-house teams were using them as a primary link building channel, firing out boring stories that got absolutely no pick up and the online links created were from low value directories.

In 2008, it worked really well to game Google’s rankings: but by 2012, it should have been on its way out. Not so much. Link building was becoming difficult and it was the easy go-to option for many agencies.

Here’s the thing: if anyone is using syndication for links today, they should be fired.

[clickToTweet tweet=”There is no value in press release syndication for SEO purposes. – @Tim_Grice” quote=”There is no value in press release syndication for SEO purposes. – @Tim_Grice”]

Journalists are already inundated with companies offering up information for free, and there is no need to check a press wire.

Julia: Why is online PR a bad idea for a link building investment?

Tim: Online PR done right is not a bad idea, syndicating crap stories around the web for a handful of links on press wires is a terrible SEO strategy; no relevance, no authority, no trust. Creating genuinely insightful content or offering up unique data and selling it indirectly to journalists and bloggers is the right approach to online PR (done right, you can generate hundreds of high authority links from a single campaign).

Julia: Is there any good form of online syndication?

Tim: Not that I am aware of.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Anything designed to create quick, easy links is almost always a waste of time and money. [email protected]_Grice” quote=”Anything designed to create quick, easy links is almost always a waste of time and money. [email protected]_Grice”]

Julia: What is a much better way to invest revenue to boost your online marketing, instead of online PR?

Tim: Done right, online PR can return good ROI as well as high authority links, however the fact is that where you invest will depend purely on the gaps in your strategy.

From an SEO stand point, if you rank in the top five you’ve probably got enough links to be position one, and you should work on the technical side of it, CTR’s, mobile and great content.

Final word…

[clickToTweet tweet=”Syndication is never a good investment, and I would opt for any other tactic. – @Tim_Grice” quote=”Syndication is never a good investment, and I would opt for any other tactic. – @Tim_Grice”]

BuzzSumo: What Is The ROI Of Press Release Distribution (Syndication)?

To further dig into the reality of how ugly the press release syndicated world is, I asked my friend Steve Rayson over at BuzzSumo to get some exclusive findings. He was happy to accommodate, and here’s what we found. Ready?

What is the ROI of Online Press Release Distribution

To wrap up our findings…

On average, press releases on the top two syndication sites get a measly 24 shares–total. Fact: 24 shares don’t equate to people actually reading, yet alone someone clicking a link in a release. Over 50% of URLs shared on Twitter are never clicked (BuzzSumo).

Big ticket question:

Are shares inflated by syndicated press release distribution networks? 

This PR was the most shared, according to BuzzSumo, coming in with 149,000 shares on Facebook.

buzzsumo most shared press release

Using Moz’s Open Site Explorer, we found out that the press release with 149k shares has only 1 backlink with a Domain Authority well below quality (19 on a scale of 100).

moz screenshot 1

Investigating further, the backlink itself has 4 spam flags.

moz screenshot

As we end, if you’re still choosing to go with PR syndicated distribution, I ask you to ask yourself:

If the highest shared press release in existence has only one backlink, which is spammy, what real value are you getting out of your syndicated press release distributions?

Are we still doing press release writing? Yes!

We still offer press release writing from expert journalists! A PR in and of itself, as Grice said, holds much value (as long as you’re using something a little better quality than the syndicated online network.) As of October 31, we no longer offer distribution only. Get your written press release here.

Comments welcome! Tell us your thoughts below.

A Comprehensive PR Writing Guide with Press Release Examples

Press releases are pretty straightforward. They only deal with facts and you don’t have to worry about convincing people to buy a product that they’re not really interested in.

So, writing a PR shouldn’t be any trouble at all, right? Wrong.

pr writing guide

Here you go!

Why You Need To Follow Press Release Examples

A lot of writers that happen to be brilliant creative writers can still struggle with Press Releases. One of the main problems that some writers come across when writing press releases is trying to keep everything concise. A lot of writers might be used to padding out their work and looking for extra little tidbits that will help them reach their target word count. The press release is a completely different beast though. Sometimes the best idea is for a writer to look at a press release example to get a feel of how a good PR should look and feel.

The Search Is On

Now, you would think that looking for press release examples would be fairly easy. Uncle Google provides plenty of answers to more complex questions every day. But then when you type those three small words in to the little box and hit enter — you get more than you bargained for.

Which Example Is Best?

There are small press releases and large press releases. There are press releases by industry and press releases by date. With all these examples, how do you know which one will suit your specific needs?

In order to figure this out, you’ll need to know what your needs are. How much do you really know about writing a press release? What kind of questions do you need to have answered before you can write the perfect PR? Let’s start from the beginning.

What Do You Need to Consider?

Press releases are solely for newsworthy events. This is an extremely strict rule (although one that many people break regularly); but that doesn’t mean that PRs can’t cover a whole host of subjects. They could be about anything from a merger between companies to a business offering a discount for some reason.

1. What’s it about? Make a note of the news that you need to write about in the press release. If a company is opening its doors for the first time in a while, look for similar PRs by typing in search terms that might be used for your company.

2. How should it read? The examples that are thrown out from this search will more than likely give you an idea on the style and tone of a press release (hint: it’s not conversational like a blog, PRs are serious stuff!) as well as how the press release should be presented. Generally speaking, a PR should be made up of around 4 paragraphs that give details of a company’s news to interested parties.

3. What should it include? You’ll notice that PRs won’t use any more words than necessary to tell the facts of the story. This is for two reasons. One: the structure of a press release is designed to give all the major details at the very start of the article to make sure the reader gets all the important information even if they don’t finish reading the full piece. And two: to make sure the important information isn’t cut off if the editor decides to shorten the article.

Templates

Because the basics of press release writing follow the same rules, the structure of PRs can be quite uniform. So it stands to reason that as well as studying a live version of a press release example for content ideas, many writers like to use templates to write their news releases as well.

There are a number of good programs that utilize press release templates:

  • Word – As part of the Microsoft Office suite, Word is a popular choice for many writers. Typing “press release” in the search box for online templates will give several options for PR templates that the user can fill their own details in for a quick and professional look.
  • Microsoft Publisher – Writers can follow step by step instructions from one of the thousands of ‘How To’ articles online and make their own template using a program like Microsoft Publisher. They can then save the template and use it every time they need to write a press release. Due to the uniformity of PRs, writers should be able to use the same template each time with minimal amount of tweaks.
  • PRWeb: PRWeb is one of the top leading sites to distribute press releases online. It has the highest amount of traffic and the most-shared news stories in terms of press releases. Here’s an example of a press release we wrote for PRWeb (note the correct title, subtitle & formatting overall):

prweb

Anyone Can Write a Press Release

This is absolutely true. Anyone can have a go at writing press releases — in the same way that anyone could have a go at driving a car or walking a tight rope; not everyone can be successful at it.

Anyone trying to write a press release and knows how to follow good press release examples needs to remember some fundamental points about how it should look, how it should read and what it needs to contain. Looking at one press release example can help with this. But looking at a number of examples that show both ends of the spectrum will give an even better idea.

Things to Remember

Press releases don’t have to be the most complicated thing in the world. Remember to:

  • Use a bold headline to grab attention
  • List the news first and tell people everything they need to know in detail
  • Look at other PRs for a similar event within the same industry. Make notes on what does and doesn’t work
  • Answer the main questions that everyone needs to know “who, where, what, why, when and how?”
  • DO NOT sell anything to anyone. A press release is always objective and only offers the facts

 

If you can remember these points and learn from other press release examples then you might well be able to write a useful, informative press release that gets noticed.

Modern Press Releases

In today’s world, the way the press release is actually released is slightly different — actually a lot different. People can skip the pitch part of the process and go right to publication. For example:

1. The client requests a PR

2. The writer writes the PR

3. Client sends the PR to an online press release distributer

4. The PR will be sent to journalists and bloggers relevant to the particular industry of the press release, but it will also become live on the Internet exactly as it’s been written.

What Does This Mean?

Press releases must be written exceptionally well so that they could actually be an editorial story. In the past, the only people who saw press releases in their raw form were the journalists and the editors who were being asked to run the story. Now, online press releases mean everybody gets a shot at being seen. While this might sound nice, the harsh reality is that people might have stood a better chance of their PR being read with the old way. As harsh as the journalists might be on a PR, at least the ones that made it would have gone to press in the best light possible. Now, it’s up to companies and their marketing team to come up with a PR that wows the public all on their own. That might sound like a fairly easy task to a writer who hasn’t had much experience with writing press releases, especially with some good press release examples to follow, but the fact of the matter is that press releases are written in a very particular way.

Press Releases in a Nutshell

When it comes to writing effective press releases that people want to read, there are a few things to remember:

  • Use an attention-grabbing headline that tells the reader exactly what to expect in the PR itself. It’s best to be direct here and get right to the point. Press releases aren’t about leaving people guessing.
  • Lead with the news. The most important factors should be right at the top of the PR. Taking three paragraphs to let people know the purpose of the press release just won’t cut it. In fact, if a writer waits three paragraphs to explain the news in a PR it’s unlikely that they’ll even have a reader by that point.
  • Keep everything factual. It’s not a personal account or a fictional story. You’re reporting a news event for a business or company. The PR should answer the “who, what, where, when, why and how?” questions. Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to get an idea of the structure of the piece. Once the basic structure is down with the answers to the 5 “W” questions, it’s a matter of putting the story together in a logical order.
  • Check and re-check your work. Any PRs that show potential for being legitimate news stories still have the opportunity to be picked up by journalists, editors and bloggers of various publications. However, if the PR is full of errors, poorly-written and generally tosh, then nobody will want to touch it with a barge pole. Not the public, not the media, not even your own grandmother who’s always been your biggest fan.
  • Write for your audience. You might not be selling anything, but you still want people to read your work. You need to think about the information that the reader will want. Part of this will come from the 5 “W” questions, but it will also come from the details that you use to answer the questions.

If you get stuck at all, there are plenty of press release examples online that will show you what you should be aiming for. Just make sure you pick a good example though, because there are plenty of horrendous press release examples that are enough to make your toes curl.

Some of the Worst Press Release Examples Ever

To understand the worth of something, sometimes you have to see the worst example ever to truly understand.

 

Examples of Bad Press Releases

You know when you’re in class, everyone’s reading from the same book and there’s always that one kid that’s on a different page than everyone else? That kid gets every project slightly off skew because they’re always using the wrong information. In school, this can lead to bad marks. In a press release, it can lead to a writer being black listed in the media.

If you’re wondering what bad press releases look like, then here are a few real life examples of press releases where the author has clearly been reading from the wrong page of the ‘how to write a good press release’ book.

Content Marketing Today revealed the incredibly gripping PR about the ‘ACME PRIVATE BANK MOVES TO SEVENTH FLOOR’ that is a real headline for a real press release. Wow. Just wow. The most obvious question here is, “who cares?” Under no circumstances is this considered news to anybody on the planet, which is why this PR can be classed as a fail.

Another site revealed gems such as:

  • “A Truly Innovative Way to Lose Weight” Breaks the fundamental rule of not pitching a sale to the reader. The last paragraph could have been taken straight from a landing page. Bad, bad, bad.
  • “Supreme Key used for Grease Removal and Cleaning Services” This one will need to be seen to be believed. The main problem here seems to be the fact that although the words are indeed English, the way they’re put together doesn’t form one single English sentence throughout the whole PR.

For new PR writers, it’s a good idea to look at both good and bad press release examples to gain a better idea of how to do it, and exactly what to stay clear of!

Overall, the humble press release has been used to grab people’s attention and bring companies into the spotlight through factual, newsworthy stories. Journalists and editors all over the world have become accustomed to receiving hundreds of press releases each week, reading through them and picking out those that will appeal to their readers. Press release examples that tick the boxes will be published, and hopefully the company will benefit from the exposure. At least that’s how it used to be.

timing is everything in PR

When to Release a Press Release for High Response

Timing matters in love, conversations, and in PR distribution strategies like deciding when to release a press release. What you want is to be at the top of the inbox the moment a news editor sits down to begin his search for the newsworthy. When asked when to release a press release, we always say there is no guarantee, but you can increase your chances by making sure your perfectly-written PR is not buried under loads of spam.

10 Factors To Consider When Strategizing The Best Times To Release a Press Release

Let’s start our discussion on when to release a press release with a couple of fast facts about editors (your first audience). The information below may seem obvious and silly, but they will impact your PR distribution strategy.

  1. Most people, including editors, are at sleep at 4 A.M.
  2. People don’t check their emails and read PRs while driving.
  3. Very few check their emails while they are eating.
  4. Sunday is a rest day.
  5. Other countries may be in different time zones.
  6. People hate working at the end of the business day, which is sometime between 6 P.M. to 8 P.M.
  7. People check their email first thing in the morning, but not before they’ve had their first cup coffee.
  8. Holidays are not business days.
  9. People love holidays, so they think about holidays the day before holidays.
  10. Most people are asleep by midnight. If they’re not, they’re doing something more fun than reading PRs and checking emails.

 

The best tips on when to release a press release are the painfully obvious ones, and the same is true when deciding when to release a press release. If you were an editor, on what day and at which time are you likely to be checking your email in search for an interesting new story?

In strategically planning when to release a press release, remember that editors usually begin the business day by checking emails, but if you send your PR too early, expect to be outranked by other emails within an hour.  Entrepreneur writes that 23.63% of all emails are opened one hour after they are sent, and the rate drops as the minutes pass. This tells us that very few editors make the effort to dig into the bottom of the pile.

You should be distributing your material within the hour that it is most visible to your target audience when strategizing when to release a press release. The same Entrepreneur article adds that 8 to 9 in the morning is when click-through rates are at the highest. This is an advice that GetResponse echoes so 8 A.M. to 9 A.M. is a pretty safe period when to release a press release.

Distributing a PR sometime before 9:30 A.M. is especially critical when you are writing a material that impacts stocks trading.  You have to be able to send it in before the Wall Street bell rings.

Is there an ideal day when to release a press release? Definitely. Editors will check their emails all throughout the business week, but you should try to avoid three things:
 

1)    Heavy communications traffic

2)    Holidays in other regions which you may not be aware of

3)    Days when editors and virtually all types of workers are eager to skip out

 

Mondays are busy days for everyone, not just editors, so prepare to be elbowed out by a ton of competition. Because of the influx of all types of communication on a Monday, working people have developed the habit of cleaning out their inbox on this day. If your PR title and email subject are not as strong as they should be, there is a greater chance of your work ending up in the virtual trash bin. So Monday’s not exactly the best day when to release a press release.

 

The problem with Fridays is that most people are thinking “Thank Goodness!” TGIF. In their eagerness to end an exhausting week, most editors are not keen on going through a long roster of PRs. In the case of paper publications, press releases picked out on a Friday are published in the weekend edition, so that’s not an ideal situation either.

 

Saturdays and Sundays are slow days for press release engagements. Unless you historically have a high success rate on weekends, don’t go for weekends in deciding when to release a press release.

 

Finally, you have to take note of all the holidays that might affect your PR distribution strategy. In deciding when to release a press release, you should avoid releasing PR the day before a holiday and the holiday itself. The key is to catch editors when they are in work mode, which means they want to seek out great and informative PRs to publish. On holidays and the day before one, people are thinking about rest and recreation, and quality time with their families. So even if you have a brilliantly written PR, your target is just not in the mood for it. Include international holidays in your Smartphone or computer calendar so you get instantly alerted as you decide when to release a press release.

 

Especially if you are targeting a global audience, you should be aware of time differences and special holidays. What time is it in London? What day is it in China? Deciding when to release a press release also involves studying business schedules in other regions not just your home city.

 

The consideration when to release a press release has become an integral part of PR distribution especially now that competition is tough and audiences are global. If you don’t develop a keen sense when to release a press release, your well-written PR may never get the attention it deserves.

 

Timing may not be everything in love, and conversations, but in PR distribution, strategy is everything in knowing when to release your press release.
 

The best pointer on when to release a press release is to religiously track your own success, and to study the rhythm of your own target audience. If you do that and keep the above tips in mind, you should be able to decide when to release a press release that records the highest response rates.

 

press release distribution tips

PR Tactics: When to Release a Press Release

“When to release a press release:” this is a frequently asked question in today’s PR & online marketing world.

It might sound silly, but the answer matters a great deal now that everyone is vying for the (limited) attention of key online and paper publications.

Even the most brilliant PR writers might be at a loss as to why their response rates are so low.

Was the writing poorly done? Not necessarily. The problem might be in distribution, particularly timing.

press release distribution tips

Learn the best times to release your news story.

When to Release a Press Release: PR Distribution Tips

To develop a keen sense of when to release a press release, PR writers ought to ask themselves a couple of simple questions:

1)   When do editors check their emails?

2)   How do I make sure that my email and PR land at the top of the inbox by the time editors sit down to work?

3)   When are editors too busy to give my material a chance?

4)   How do these factors come into play when I decide when to release a press release?

If you work on answering these questions, planning when to release a press release becomes more strategic. Let’s talk about days first.

When to release a press release? The best day is Thursday.

Weekends are for rest and recreation. Saturdays and Sundays are usually earmarked for quality time with kids, or to catch up on hobbies. It is generally not advisable to distribute your PRs on weekends when editors aren’t thinking about work.

The best days to release a press release are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Mondays are fine, but reporters, editors, and practically everyone who is working is busier on the first business day of the workweek. Getting a PR published on a Monday is like driving to work at rush hour. Remember this the next time you decide when to release a press release.

Based on data provided by GetResponse, Thursdays record the most number of click-throughs compared to any other day of the week. This is a very useful pointer on when to release a press release, but remember that PRs are still news. They are meant to be timely and fresh.

If a product is launched on a Monday, and you would like to send out news on how the launching went, release the PR as soon as possible: on the same day or on Tuesday. You don’t have to wait for Thursday just because we say the stats are higher then.  “Strike when the iron is hot” is a good tip to remember when deciding when to release a press release. Editors couldn’t care less about old news.

Also factor in holidays and vacations when you figure out when to release a press release strategically. Obviously these are very slow days, and are among the worst days for PR engagement (unless you own a retail shop or a small restaurant so your business is at its peak).  For most types of businesses though, it is poor timing to send out PR:

  • On three-day weekend holidays like 4th of July, Labor Day or Memorial Day weekend. Never go for long weekends when you pick a date to release a press release.
  • During the Christmas week, particularly three days before Christmas Day
  • A couple of days before the New Year and a day after
  • Other major religious holidays in your country and abroad

When is the most ideal time for distributing PR? 8:30 to 9:00 A.M.

To figure out the ideal hour when to release a press release, here are some useful stats and facts from the Entrepreneur:

  • The fewest emails are sent from midnight to 6 am because everyone is asleep probably (including PR writers and distributors)
  • The majority of emails are sent from 6 am to noon, and click-throughs occur more between 8 A.M. to 9 A.M.
  • In the afternoon, there is a high-click through rate from 3 P.M. to 8 P.M., but opens happen mostly from 3 P.M. to 4 P.M.
  • Finally, most PRs sent through email are responded to within an hour after they’ve been sent. The chances of PRs being read drops after that first hour

As you plan when to release a press release, take note of what these numbers tell you about the habits and schedules of editors.

At 6 am, very early birds send their PRs out in the hopes of getting ahead. The problem with this tactic is that at six, editors have probably just gotten up, and are still preparing to get to work.  By the time the clock strikes eight, there’ll be more than a hundred emails listed ahead of the very early bird’s PR. It won’t be noticed.

Wondering when to release a press release for maximum exposure? Sometime between 8:30 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. is the best time to email in a PR. There is a greater chance that your target editor will be at his desk and ready for work. He will instantly see your material as it comes. If such clever timing is combined with catchy titles and well-written leads, you might actually get the response you are hoping for.

In some cases, news breaks midday. If you don’t want to wait for the next business day to spread the buzz, email in your PR early in the afternoon. Because of high-click through rates recorded at this time, 3 P.M. to 4 P.M. is an ideal hour to release a press release.

Business days usually end around 5 P.M. to 6 P.M. Editors don’t have the energy and the inclination to scout for great PRs towards the end of an exhausting day. The state of mind of your first audience (journalists and editors) is an important consideration in deciding when to release a press release.

Some online resources on when to release a press release claim that people check their emails around 8 pm just to make sure they haven’t missed anything urgent. You can give it a try if you want (competition for attention might be less tough at 8 pm), but it’s riskier as well. Most people do their own thing after business hours, and might not be in the mood for reading PRs no matter how brilliantly done.

These tips on when to release a press release should serve as guides, but they won’t work every single time.

At the end of the day, the best way to grab the attention of target editors and journalists is write to-the-point press releases that truly offer valuable information. Remember that rule of thumb, and your foundations will be correct for best results.

press release authority

Always be the Authority When You Release a Press Release

Publishing a press release requires that you have an excellent command of your niche, you don’t just decide when to release a press release on a whim to able to catch up on the buzz or just for the sake of having something to offset your competition’s press release. When you release a press release, you need to be able to project authority to your target audience by means of an accurate and well-planned presentation of information about your company or product. So before you decide when to release a press release, ensure that you are a master of your craft.

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what all the PR buzz is about

A Friendly PR Reminder: The Buzz Says When to Release a Press Release

The format most (if not all) companies use when they release a press release can be simplified by their answering these questions: What’s the buzz? Where’s the buzz? Who’s in the buzz? When did the buzz happen? and How did it happen? A skillful combination of all or some of the answers to these questions makes up the entirety of your press release. Moreover, notice that all of these questions ask about one thing: buzz.

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