Blog Post

Black Letter Communications Blog

Expert pr advice for the legal sector

Should I use a press release distribution service?

Press release distribution services can be a useful tool to distribute a press release if you want maximum reach for minimum effort.

The upside of using a press release service is that with just a click of button you can reach thousands of outlets.

But the reality is that press release submission sites are automated, faceless services. The process reminds me of throwing mud to the wall and seeing if it sticks. Strategic, they are not.

There’s a range of providers out there and many of them will lure clients in with initial offers of free press release lists or free press release distribution. However, I’d be wary of using any free press release service as the old adage of you get what you pay for will likely be true.

We wouldn’t usually recommend such services, but they can be particularly useful if you’re new to PR and don’t have access to a media contacts database or lack knowledge about your intended targets.


Which press release service should I use?

We very rarely use any press release submission sites or distribution services, but the most reputable ones out there are

  • PR Newswire
  • PRWeb
  • Vuelio
  • ResponseSource
  • BusinessWire

It’s perhaps worth considering the definition of PR. It is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ define it as …the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.

In our view, automated press release distribution services do little to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding. After all, there’s so much more to PR than firing out a press release.


Build relationships with journalists

Our approach is highly targeted; we do not blanket mail shot busy journalists. Rather, we take care and time to talk to journalists on their terms, building strong relationships so that we can use the right medium at the right time. Quite a few journalists have told us over the years that due to the vast number of press releases they receive daily, that they don’t even bother opening ones from people they don’t know.

One of the things I have noticed with press release distribution services is that they tend to focus on the numbers, guaranteeing to “reach thousands of media outlets”. And that’s part of the problem; “reach” often amounts to no more than landing in a journalist’s email box, with no guarantee of it even being read.


PR is not a numbers game

If you’re judging the success of your PR solely on how many journalists you reach or pieces of media coverage you achieved, then you aren’t properly evaluating your success. What’s important is how the media coverage influences people to act towards to your brand. This is where a specialist PR agency will come into their own, not only in knowing the most appropriate media outlet to target, but which journalist on each outlet to speak to.

It may surprise readers to know that for some press releases our distribution list may be as small as 10 journalists, whereas other times it will be in the hundreds. It all depends on our judgment of the story, what the client’s objective is and where it is likely to have the biggest impact. This isn’t something a press release distribution service or press release submission software can offer. Quite simply, the computer will say no.