Should you utilize free press release distribution services? Probably not. In general, free press releases epitomize the age-old adage “You get what you pay for.” Such plans are generally characterized by poor reach and limited features.
If you’re still not convinced, here are a few things to consider when exploring free press release services and what to be aware of.
Why Distribute a Press Release?
A press release boosts awareness of your products, services, and brand. It alerts a wide range of media when you have significant organizational news to share: a product launch, meaningful acquisition, or sale, for example. It’s considered essential, and complements additional marketing and communications channels such as social media and owned and earned media.
Press Release Distribution Services
A public relations (PR) or investor relations (IR) professional can only do so much. To improve efficiencies and ensure your announcement reaches the right audience, press release circulation is often outsourced to a specialty company referred to as a newswire.
Newswire editors typically shepherd each press release through multiple review and editing cycles with the sender. The release is then distributed via digital networks across a wide range of news and media outlets, subscribers, journalists, influencers, and others.
Despite having adopted digital distribution methods, the greater newswire industry is still built around human labor and its associated inefficiencies.
Free Press Releases
Currently, several newswires offer free press release services. A few provide introductory plans (PRLog) while most others (PR.com, EIN Presswire, IssueWire, etc.) dispense a free single press release in hopes of upselling the user to a paid plan.
Such offers are primarily characterized by poor reach, limited features, and zero flexibility一 the antithesis of quality press release distribution. Many also require the user to create an account for access.
PRLog, for example, features instant press release approval (no review or editing) but with a two-release per day limit. For each release the user is restricted to a maximum length of 500 words, a single video embed, two sharable plain links, and no images (including company logos).
Other platforms, such as NewswireToday and Online PR Media, include third-party ads, which, aside from being distracting, can encourage the viewer to click away from the release. Some newswires remove releases after 90 days.
Every press release campaign should be focused, with specific target audiences in mind. Wide circulation to major media outlets and news sites may be appropriate for a multinational technology company, but not for a small construction firm with local customers. If a newswire doesn’t target your preferred audience, it’s probably not the right newswire for your release一even if it’s free.
In most cases, free distribution is limited to search engines, RSS feeds, and hosting on the newswire. A few include a selection of news sites一with the caveat they’re not premium. Generally, most also encompass sharing capabilities for social media, websites, and email.
Importantly, targeting is unavailable with free plans. PRLog, an outlier on this point, enables users to list their news under a single industry, country, state, city, and a selection of keywords and tags. But that’s as far as targeting seems to go. For this reason alone, free press releases aren't likely to be very effective.
Free press release services are also plagued by other significant limitations, such as publishing time. NewswireToday, for example, only indicates your release will be held in a queue. Others are silent on timing.
The use of a corporate logo is also typically restricted, and user platforms can be challenging to navigate.
Key Features to Look for in a Newswire
When comparing newswires, make sure the service you select does include the following features:
- Easy-to-use online workspace that enables collaboration for drafting, commenting, and editing. While this may not be strictly necessary, it provides extraordinary efficiency and improves the standard PR creation workflow that’s time consuming and often chaotic.
- Data security throughout your entire workflow. From drafting to delivery, the risk of disclosure is present一which in some cases can cost a company millions of dollars if the pre-release data is material. A platform that includes robust, top-tier security protocols helps ensure your release is protected until you’re ready for its dissemination.
- Customer service available when you want it. Having access to an expert when you have a question or require assistance is critical, especially if you’re under time pressure.
- Performance analytics. Understanding how effective your campaign is will be important to refining your future communications and marketing strategies. In fact, according to media database and website Muck Rack, 98% of pros are measuring their PR efforts in some way. Ensure your newswire provides traffic and engagement metrics that are meaningful. Furthermore, social media performance metrics, such as click-through rates on links, mentions, hashtags, and special codes, should also be available.
News Direct Is an Affordable Alternative to Free Press Release Services
News Direct, a premier news and content distribution service, includes all of the key features listed above and much more.
Designed with the modern user in mind, News Direct offers comprehensive capabilities covering a global network of top-tier media and news outlets and trade press. Advanced targeting by U.S.-based geographic location, niche media and influencers, cultural or other interest (Hispanic media or environmental, social, and governance or ESG, for example) is also available at no extra cost.
News Direct’s proprietary SimpliFi™ functionality enables PR pros一especially in IR一to copy and paste tabular data directly into its collaborative and secure platform the Content Studio, with complete format retention. Circulation of standalone media such as videos and infographics is also possible.
Finally, News Direct’s pricing is based on an asset-based, flat-rate model that’s simple, fully transparent, and affordable一and comes at a fraction of the cost of popular newswires.