For many companies, the obvious scope for press release distribution is a small list of publications in a narrow field, on top of which you might hopefully target some national and local publications. With a bit of luck, your story might get picked up by one of them. Not good enough! If you don’t make your press releases work harder, you’re getting very little return for all that effort. This is one of the key reasons for most companies’ disappointment with PR.

First, let’s look at your PR objectives. Is it just to get some column inches in a few periodicals? No – the key purpose of PR is to ‘inform the market’ of what your company is up to, what it stands for and what it delivers. It’s a common mistake to treat a press release as if it were an advertisement. It’s not – even though your PR goal might be to acquire customers, this should not be the focus of your press releases or your distribution strategy. The primary purpose of your press release is to deliver a newsworthy story – and then let the grapevine and the media do their job!

The media has really changed over the last few years. Today, a successful press release is one that appears on the Internet in as many places as possible, is found on the first page of a ‘Google News’ search, and gets you talked about across your industry.

Sending out PR e-mails to a short list of journalists isn’t going to achieve that. So, get the grapevine working, broaden your circulation and get the maximum exposure for your stories. Here are ten places to publish your press release:

An on-line distribution service.

The best ones have highly targeted circulations. They are a great way to reach your industry and are particularly effective at getting coverage around the Internet. They are a cost-effective way of moving your circulation from the tens – to the hundreds, or thousands. The world has moved on from PR just being about print – the Web provides lots of avenues for distributing news.

Your website.

Think about creating a media relations section, where you can post press releases. This might even be separate from your other company’s news stories. Enable journalists to sign up for automatic updates via e-mail and make resources, such as high-resolution images, available to them. Good images increase the chance of your story getting published or of it getting a more prominent placing.

Your industry’s VIPs, consultants, experts, gurus and associates.

Think about all of the people who speak at your industry’s trade conferences and appear in your trade media. Make sure they are kept abreast of your news.

Your customers.

Amazingly, many companies forget to send press releases to customers. As long as it’s newsworthy – and not thinly veiled advertising, you can gain credibility with customers.

Your staff.

No kidding – your staff talk to more people than you think, and the better informed they are, the better the message they can deliver.

Your suppliers.

Again, these are often overlooked. After your staff, your suppliers are the group of people most likely to talk about you than any other. Make sure that they’re telling others what you want them to – not gossip that they’ve picked up from elsewhere.

Research houses.

Every industry has them – find out the names of the analysts in yours and get them on your distribution list. Make sure they miss nothing. These people are very well connected and can really influence the media.

Your close-contact professional network.

This may include people who don’t quite fit any of the descriptions above. Go through your e-mail address book and add them to your press release circulation.

Trade bodies and institutions.

Again, every industry has them. They make a living from talking about, and connecting, companies in their sector. Make sure that what they communicate is what you want them to communicate.

The mass media.

I’ve put this last, because for most companies this is exactly where it should be: last. Reaching the mass media can be expensive and ineffective: using the ‘sniper rifle’ approaches above will usually beat this ‘shot gun’. If you do need mass-media coverage, better to court and manage several key media relationships with journalists and editors than to simply build up a humungous distribution list.
One thing that’s common about most of the suggestions is that they don’t cost much to do. They are often free, involve just a small incremental cost or take a little bit of extra time. But they can be the difference between your press releases sinking without trace or having a real impact on your business.