For any business owner, promotion is crucial. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Fortune 500 company or a work-at-home mom blogger – advertising your brand is a top priority for every business, large and small. The primary difference between big corporations and smaller businesses is, of course, the size of your budget. As a small business owner, I understand how vital it is to spend your advertising budget wisely and effectively. For many professional bloggers, advertising may often take the form of self-initiated promotion that doesn’t involve hiring third parties or paying for traditional print and digital ads. But I’m sure many of you have mulled over the possibility of investing in quality advertising, either now or in the future. If you were to advertise, how much would you spend and what method would you use?
I recently had the unique opportunity to try sending out a premium premium release via PRWeb. This company sends out your press release to a slew of outlets, from well-known print magazines and newspapers to online outlets such as Google and Yahoo! News, not to mention their 250,000+ subscribers and a network of 30,000+ journalists and bloggers. PRWeb is a service by Vocus, a reputable company that also owns esteemed outlets such as HARO. There’s dozens of places that offer to send out your press release, but I was impressed with PRWeb’s credibility right off the bat.
PRWeb provided me with one free premium release in order to test out their services and report back to you, my readers, how well it works for bloggers. I was intrigued to give it a try, even though I’m inherently skeptical of any service that offers amazing placement for your works. There are dozens of places that promise your press release will cross the desk of major periodicals like the New York Times, but as a journalist, I know the reality of what happens. Oh, sure, your press release will get to the New York Times – where it will promptly be placed into the shredder! However, despite my cynicism, I could see the inherent value that a reliable service offers. What struck me about PRWeb was the sheer volume with which your press release is distributed. With my news going out to literally thousands of people in both online and more traditional print medias, I figured I would get at least one response of value.
For the topic of my press release, I decided to announce my upcoming Holiday Gift Guide. I know that Christmas seems far away, but in media we plan out our editorial calendars months in advance! I’m already well underway with my preparations coordinating features and writing content, so it was a great time to announce this further with a press release, so that interested parties could contact me for more information about being included in the guide.
PRWeb’s job is to syndicate press releases, and as far as I’m aware they do not offer press release creation services, although they do offer revisions and assistance if needed, as well as reports you can run on the website to grade your press release. To submit your release, you create an account and follow the steps to input your text and attachments, if desired. PRWeb has extensive editorial guidelines to maintain the quality of the releases they send out, which are just common-sense press release tactics, so it will be no problem for anyone who has written one before; just pay attention to make sure that you’re adhering to their specific formatting needs. If you’re not a journalist, you may want to set aside a little more time to put your release together – they do explain everything in detail, so you’ll know exactly what is needed.
I followed the instructions inside the portal and typed my release up on a word processor first so that I could easily save and edit it. When I was happy with my press release, I copied and pasted it into the form they provide and uploaded several attachments. Once your release is ready to go, you can select the date and time you would like to have it sent out, the categories it relates to the most, and also choose the markets you would like it delivered to. These specific markets are in addition to the wide umbrella of nationwide outlets that PRWeb sends your news blast to; and you have the option of selecting more if you pay an additional fee. Some of the choices included regional and market-specific outlets, and after careful consideration, I decided to focus on West coast publications and business industry publications. The business one is obvious, since it targeted outlets that would be the most likely read by PR and media professionals, IE my target demographic; as for the West coast, I chose this because it covered all the major newspapers in my state. No, The Oregonian is not going to care about my blog’s gift guide, but it’s entirely possible that one of their staffers may be working on a piece relating to social media and looking for a local source; so my strategy was multi-pronged.
Once I had finished my press release, it was sent to PRWeb for review. If a release needs revisions, they will contact you, otherwise it will be delivered on schedule. My press release went out on time the next day, and you can click here to read it. PRWeb provides detailed analytics for your release, so I tracked it in real-time with interest. So what’s the numbers breakdown?
As of today, 2 weeks after sending out my press release, it has reached the following:
- Delivered to 7,630 media outlets – ranging everything from places like ABC News and USA Today to quirkier outlets such as “Dairying Today” and “Garbage And MOT Professional”.
- Picked up by 140 websites – this refers to sites that aggregate press releases from this service, ranging from Yahoo! News and various local CBS affiliates to places like the Oil & Gas Financial Journal website.
- 81,057 News Feed Impressions
- 831 Onsite Impressions
- 779 Total Reads
- 101 Total Interactions – such as clicking a link, printing the press release, etc.
Obviously, that’s great, but what does it mean in real terms? Eyeballs on your work is one thing, but we all know that conversion into action is the tricky part. In terms of being contacted by media outlets, the response so far has been small. Within the first few days, I did get a handful of requests for my submission guidelines which I believe were related to this – I’m kicking myself now for not directing respondents to a unique link or email that I could track the direct response with. It’s only been two weeks, and while I would have anticipated that most of the outreach would occur during those crucial first few days, it’s entirely possible that my press release will lead to future contact – it is hosted on PRWeb’s site permanently.
More significant than the direct contact was the result within Google. Within a few hours of my press release going out, I was on the front page of Google search results for a keyword relating to the topic in my press release. I’m currently ranking for two search topics, although one of them is squirrely – my site will appear on the front page, then disappear a few hours later, then re-appear the next day. Naturally, this can be hard to track accurately, and subject to change depending on what other content comes out in the same niche.
Here’s a screenshot of my press release on the front page of a Google search result:
Click the thumbnail to view full-size
Both the search results are fluid and seem to shift constantly, but I still feel this was a result. I think this may be even more significant than the press release itself, as it will obviously give my traffic a little boost and may make it a lot easier for my site to be found by those seeking gift guide placement – I think this will become more obvious as it gets closer to the launch of my guide. I will also be interested to see what, if any, effect this has on my Page Rank.
So here’s the million dollar question: Is it worth the money? I think the answer depends on where your business is and what you hope to achieve. The premium release which I received normally retails for $369, and plenty of people spend at least that much – and usually a lot more – on hiring SEO firms. This proved to be effective in immediately gaining competitive rankings, although I of course don’t know what the long-term results will be or how long I will retain this search ranking for.
In terms of getting a direct response from PR firms seeking gift guide placement or inquires from media outlets, that response has been pretty thin on the ground thus far. I also wonder how the timing of my press release may have affected the results – we’re at a turning point with media at the moment where on the one hand, you need to plan your editorial calendar out in advance, but on the other hand, we realistically know that a large amount of social media promotion happens at the last minute. I have a feeling that if my release were to go out in October, I’d possibly have more of a response than doing it during the summer lag.
Another aspect that I think will come in useful over the coming months is having the link to my press release available to forward to interested parties. Credibility is all about perception, and even though anyone can buy a press release that goes up on Yahoo! News, you’d be amazed by how much more stock people will put in someone who can demonstrate this kind of coverage. My professional credentials speak for themselves – and exist in an abundance of quickly and easily verified links – but in this transition from print media to the digital age, sometimes these little things can be useful when working with colleagues who want to make sure that yes, I really do exist and am not an imaginary Internet persona created by a crazy guy living in his mother’s basement.
Would I repeat this experience again? Absolutely. Do I feel it was worth my time it took putting together my press release and writing up this article? Yes. Would I pay close to $400 for it? In my current business position, I would not be able to do it. For someone who owns a larger company – or just has a larger budget! – and wants to attempt to optimize their search results while simultaneously blasting their news to as many people as possible, PRWeb is a credible way to distribute your press release. For the blogger who is scraping quarters out of their couch cushions to pay for Taco Bell, you’ll probably want to wait and focus on other promotional efforts before jumping straight into hiring a news release distribution agency.