Press releases are a vital part for any business which needs public relations. By announcing a press release business owners expect mass media will take their message to public. That’s why big companies allocate a considerable budget for press releases. But when it comes to online small businesses, the objective differs slightly. For them, it’s making a bang and getting attention from neighborhood which will be converted into an increase in backlinks and traffic.

Effectiveness of Press Releases

Press releases are effective in several aspects, branding, traffic, link building etc. Traffic you can get directly depends on the amount of money you are willing to spend and the quality of your press release. When you pay high, you get a high coverage. Ultimate destinations of press releases are online and offline news agents. No matter how much coverage you got, if your press release was not interesting enough, they wouldn’t publish it.

Same rule applies for link building. But you can succeed up to a certain grade with less effort and money. I have written an extensive article on Effectiveness of Press Releases in Link Building where you can get it right.

Press Release Instances and Frequency

You should distribute a press release whenever something newsworthy happens in your business like launching a new product, reaching to a goal, threat you faced etc. However 2 per month can be reasonable if you want a benchmark that reminds you to seek and to make news in your business regularly.

Writing a Press Release

This is the most crucial part because this can largely determine the success your press release would achieve. No reputed distribution service will accept a poorly done press release just because you are willing to pay. So, you should pay great attention to get it right. Writing a press release is where you need intelligence, distributing is a matter of labor. However don’t become frustrated with this. You can simply get done a professional release by understanding basics.

Free vs Paid Press Release Distribution

There is no argument that paid option is better than free option. When you pay, your press release will be distributed to higher number of media outlets. But you may not be able to afford a fee for every press release you publish. Therefore use paid options when you really want more attention, like launching a new product. For other occasions, you can be satisfied with the coverage free options provide.

PRWeb was a major player in free distribution. But later it stopped free distribution. Now you will need to pay at least $10 to get your press release published. Considering its coverage, this $10 can bring good results. Therefore when you have decided for a free distribution, see whether you can afford this amount.

You can get a good list of free press release distribution services at HomeBizPal Press Release Distribution. There I have listed press release distribution services which have a free option. Order is according to Alexa Rank. Google Page Rank of home page is also displayed.

Press Release Submission Tips

As explained in Press Release Writing Tips, your press release should contain Headline, Summary, Body, Company Description and Contact Information. You will have to input each part in separate input boxes at distribution services and not all distribution services require all parts. For an example some distribution services may not need a Summary and some need associate keywords as inputs. Therefore order all your main parts in a text file following any additional parts (like keywords) and paste them appropriately in submission forms.

Distribution services usually require an email address to notify you the approval and to include in Contact Information. Keep a separate email address for it and make sure it is in your domain (like press@your-website-name.com) rather than a free one. If your host provides filters or email forwarding (then you can forward them to a free service which offers filters like GMail), create a filter for this email address. It will help you to know the progress of your distribution easily.

In addition to an email address, distribution services ask First Name, Last Name, Postal Address etc. Filling all these manually can consume considerable amount of time. Use Google Toolbar’s AutoFill feature to automate it.

Press release distribution services ask the day you want it to be released. Choose a day or two in advance because it may help you to rise through the crowd. That is if today is 28th then choose 29th or 30th.

Tracking a Press Release

Some tend to include a tracking URL in press release to track (something like http://www.your-website-name.com/welcome/) how many clicks they get. But remember this is not effective in link building because increasing Google Page Rank of a redirecting page won’t bring you any good. If your statistic service provides referrer statistics (like in free Google Analytics) then you can simply know how many clicks you got without tracking URLs.

To see in how many places, your press release has been mentioned. Do an exact search (wrapping your term with double quotes) for the headline of your press release in desired search engine. I use HomeBizPal Keyword Profitability Search for this. By pasting the title once, I can do the search for all three major search engines in same window. You will notice a decrease in the number for the reasons I explained in Effectiveness of Press Releases in Link Building.

Press Release Tracking

Press Releases as Copyright Proofs and Track Records

Once published, some distribution services may let you edit the content of your press release. But it won’t change the released date. That means press releases can be used as Copyright Proofs. If someone violated your copyrights then as an addition to regular actions, you can evidence the press release of launch. Since press releases are distributed by third parties, it can be a good proof.

And also after about 5 releases, try to build a Press Room (simply a page that lists your press releases) in your web site by listing headlines and summaries of your releases and linking headlines to preferred announcement pages of distribution services. This can illustrate track records to someone seeking facts about your business (hopefully to write an article about you) or simply to yourself which reminds you how far you have come :-)