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FAQs | Marketing

PR Distribution Channels

Q1: Is it recommended to use a press release distribution service like BusinessWire or PR Newswire? What other methods should I consider?

A:
1. Using a Distribution Service

For background on a variety of PR resources, including a number of wire and distribution services, visit http://netpreneur.org/news/prmachine/prservices.html.

"[At our PR agency,] we consider PR Newswire (http://prnewswire.com) and BusinessWire (http://www.businesswire.com) essentially interchangeable. Both are picked up by similar media outlets. Both cost roughly the same-approximately $400-$600 per 2-page release circulated to several hundred media outlets nationwide-depending on how extensive you want the coverage to be. There's also an annual fee of $100 to use these wires.

Each subdivides its media audiences by industry and/or regional focus. This is beneficial to client companies because they can select and distribute their news to the appropriate audiences, ensuring efficient and cost-effective distribution and sparing reporters from receiving news that isn't useful for their publications. Pricing is based on the geographic distribution you choose.

Then you get-for free-distribution to your choice of an industry group (we recommend you choose the 300 high tech pubs), databases and online services, financial analysts, etc. For most companies, the major benefit comes from what you get for free-getting on the wires so individuals and analysts who are tracking the industry (and who may not be in my database) will pick up the release. Of course, the release still goes out directly to all the right editors at local papers and the trade press.

When your release is of major interest to average consumers all across the country, you get value from paying the full rate. But for the other times, you can save several hundred dollars by choosing the smallest local distribution. The DC Wire (local newspapers, TV and radio) costs just $70 for the first 400 words plus $15 for each additional 100 words.

Both PR Newswire and BusinessWire offer email and/or fax distribution services inaddition to wire distribution, enabling client companies to deliver their releases right into the email/fax boxes of their key media audiences. Should you view that as a useful effort, they'll work with you to build the list of recipients. Youcan always build such a list yourself, too.

While there are other distribution services available, BusinessWire and PR Newswire enjoy the best reputations and suggest the highest credibility. Chris Carleton, CHEN PR, Inc.,ccarleton@chenpr.com; Judith A. Schramm jaschramm@COMPUSERVE.COM]

Alternatives to PR Newswire and BusinessWire:

  • http://www.nequity.com allows you to do a press release online through BusinessWire. [Patrick Fitzgerald, fitzgerald@CKS.COM]

2. Use the Personal Touch

There's really no difference in doing PR on or offline. The same principles apply-get to know your key reporters and know your product inside and out.

Your best bet is using the personal touch. Nothing can replace phoning and emailing the specific editors at your target publications. Choose the most appropriate media for your story(s), get to know what they are looking for and the individual editor's interests (find relevant articles they have written). Editors and reporters are bombarded with releases every day and if they are not anticipating it, either through prior voice or email contact, it usually falls by the wayside.

Find out how they like to be pitched (phone, email, snail mail), pitch the right story at the right time, and be ready to follow up with a good press kit (see more on this in Q2 below). If possible, be prepared to provide market research analysts, customers, business partners and other third-party sources of credibility who will support your announcement. Most reporters will want access to some combination of those third-party sources before they commit to writing an article.

Becoming a source of high tech information is a great angle to take. If journalists start to value you as a source of accurate, timely information, they will come back again and again. Contact reporters only when you have a legitimate news angle. For example, a tip about a piece of legislation, that would affect an entire industry. Pitching stories that are more self-serving--a new product announcement, for example, will not get the same attention.

Although there are no short-cuts to cultivating and building these relationships, narrow down your target list to one that is in line with your resources. All in all, the relationship-building process can be time consuming, but it definitely increases the likelihood that you'll generate some ink.

[Keith Driscoll, keith.pressplay@WORLDNET.ATT.NET; Marilyn Daly, PR and Marketing Consultant, marilyndaly@EARTHLINK.NET; Chris Carleton, CHEN PR, Inc., ccarleton@chenpr.com; Laura Weiss, lauraww@ibm.net; Simon Walsh, swalsh@marketwatch.com]

Q2: How can I establish a good relationship with reporters, so that my press releases get noticed?

For good, firsthand information about working effectively with the press, visit Maximizing PR For The Start-up Netpreneur (http://netpreneur.org/events/pr), the transcript of a Netpreneur Program event feauring a panel of journalists and executives.

  • First, find out which publications your prospects read for news about your type of product. Subscribe to those publications yourself and get familiar with what types of news they cover in each section and who writes about your product category.

    You can also get a quick feel for the publication by visiting their Web site and doing a search on a keyword related to your product. You will turn up the people who cover your topic as well as what they have written about recently. Next, contact them. You can make it low key and just introduce yourself and your company, or you can comment on a recent article, or start with a press release. Email is a good way to make contact initially, and you can follow up with a phone call. Make sure it's a good time for them to talk-you'll get brushed off if they're on a deadline.

    Continue to feed them useful information, and be available (preferably with pithy quotes) when they need an expert on your topic. Work at it like any other relationship.

    Start with perhaps half a dozen contacts and build from there as time and resources permit. [Judith A. Schramm, jaschramm@COMPUSERVE.COM]

  • Check out a service called Media Map, headquartered in Cambridge, MA. It provides an extremely useful reference tool for high tech PR professionals, listing a wide range of publications and reporters who cover technology. Updated quarterly, it also provides background information on these various publications/reporters, their "beats" or editorial interests, and how they wish to be contacted by PR folks, etc. I believe the annual subscription is probably $2,000. It's also available in an online fashion, and I believe they have a deal with PR Newswire that offers some benefits to clients of the two services. [Chris Carleton, CHEN PR, Inc., ccarleton@chenpr.com]

 

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