Marketing via a press release is one of the oldest techniques in the book. It’s also vastly misunderstood. Far too many people get press releases and guest posts confused, and try to submit one in place of another.
Press releases, even those aimed at marketing, are a very specific kind of document. A press release can’t just be a blog post in a fancy suit; it needs to meet several goals and match a known format to be accepted on most press release distribution sites.
The point of a press release is to be one single document you send to a wide variety of sources. If those sources all publish the document, that’s fine, it’s clearly a press release, not meant to be unique. The real goal, however, is for journalists at those sites – be they newspapers or online journalists like HuffPost or Forbes – to cover your topic. You’re getting attention to your business, building awareness, and getting people to check out what new product you have coming down the pipe.
Making a Good Press Release
A good press release needs to have certain qualities if you want it to be read, let alone covered by journalists. What makes a good press release?
#1: A press release needs to be newsworthy. Think about it from the perspective of a stranger, or a friend or family member. If you are telling them about what you’re writing a press release about, would they be excited? Alright, so a family member might not be the best test case; they might be excited for you despite not understanding a word you said. Still, newsworthiness is incredibly important.
#2: A press release needs to use your relevant target keywords. Press releases are in fact one of the few areas where keyword density matters, where you can at least think about inserting them more than your usual blog post. After all, you want people to grasp what your company does and what your announcement is about, so they don’t have to go digging to find a topic. Avoid overly-stuffed paragraphs, of course; those just don’t sound natural enough. Humans are reading these, after all.
#3: A press release should have relevant links with good anchor text. Don’t use a typical “click here” anchor, you need something targeted to tell people exactly what the link is for.
Unlike with blog posts or guest posts, every link you include in a press release should lead back to your site. They’re one of the few kinds of content you can circulate that is entirely self-promotional, and expected to be. Link to your homepage with a link about who you are, link to your landing page for your new product or service, and perhaps link to one flagship piece of content when discussing why it’s relevant. Beyond that, you shouldn’t need more links.
#4: A press release should include media, if allowed. Some press release distributors prefer to just promote text, while others will allow posts with media in them. If you find that a lot of the sites you want to use don’t want you to add media, you can include a link to a “press kit” that contains your sanctioned media.
#5: A press release should be written formally. These are essentially professional disclosures of information, not casual, brand-building blog posts. You’re also writing for people who might not know your industry, so minimize industry jargon or advanced assumptions or data. If you need to reference specific statistics, link to a case study analysis in plain English that supports your point. In all cases, you should be writing in the third person.
Distributing Press Releases
You can send press releases to a wide variety of sites. You can always send them directly to tip lines for sites like Forbes, Fast Company, HuffPost, or BuzzFeed News. More often, though, you want to send them to sites that, in turn, circulate them throughout their own lists of interested parties. Why send a press release to one site, when you can send it to one site that then sends it to 100?
The list I’ve put together below is focused entirely on sites that are free to submit to. There are, as you might expect, a lot of sites that will promote your press release if you pay them, but don’t accept free submissions. Perhaps I’ll cover those in another post.
Free sites do have their drawbacks. For one thing, they’re often flooded with other companies submitting their own press releases. It’s tricky to find good sites that will get you any returns with your press releases for free. That said, you should always be recording and measuring your results with any sort of outreach, and press release submission is no exception.
I recommend making a spreadsheet. In one column, put a link to your press release, or at least a title to the release you’re submitting. In another, put the name and link of the site you’re submitting the press release to. From there, figure out what metrics you can record – individual tracked links for each site can be helpful – and record your returns. If you find yourself submitting a press release to a site that returns literally zero traffic, you might want to cut that site from future submission lists. Conversely, focus more on sites that return better numbers.
All of that said, here’s a list of 50 or so sites where you can submit your press release for free. I’ll try to note a few salient details about them where there’s anything to make them stand out. Also, let me know in the comments if you find any of these sites have disappeared. I’d like to keep this list filtered and up to date as much as possible. Likewise, if you have a site you’ve had good performance with in the past, feel free to recommend it.
Free Press Release Submission List
- PR Urgent – Submissions to this site have been known to reach Google News. They have several content restrictions and do not allow images in their press releases.
- Online PR News – Free submissions to this site are left online for about three months. Paid submissions have additional benefits and longer live times.
- PR Log – Free submissions include distribution, allow links, and can be tagged with industry and location tags.
- PR – Free submission works, but is driven down under submissions from paid members.
- PR Inside – A very bare-bones site that nonetheless gets some exposure.
- 1888 Press Release – Free press release submission is very limited, with no proactive advertisement.
- 24-7 Press Release – Free submission gets your release sent to journalists registered to their media desk.
- Free-Press-Release – Free submission gets some basic benefits with this site.
- Market Press Release – Free submissions are limited to one per day.
- OnlyWire – Not technically press releases, this submits your content to various social networks. Free accounts limit social profiles.
- OpenPR – Free submissions are only reviewed during business hours. This site also has a German version.
- PR9 – This site coves a variety of topics but doesn’t have much competition.
- PR Free – In addition to free press release submission, you can also syndicate content with this site if you desire.
- Pressbox – A press release dump focused on UK submissions but open to global releases.
- Press Exposure – This site may or may not still be active; someone try it out and let me know in the comments.
- PR Mac – Submissions have been picked up by large news sites in the past. Some bias towards Apple news.
- BizEurope – A European-focused press release submission network.
- UK PR Wire – This UK-focused press release site only has free submission for registered charities and charitable causes.
- NPR – National Public Radio always accepts submissions of newsworthy content, though global news will always take center stage.
- BusinessWire – A business-focused news site that accepts press releases, though you need to apply for membership to submit.
- MediaPost – A media-focused site that accepts press releases.
- TMCNet – A tech-focused site that accepts press releases, and also covers some topics other sites don’t, like cryptocurrencies.
- PR Sync – This site has a Spanish-language option in addition to English.
- MeriNews – A news site where you can submit debate topics, breaking news, newsworthy photos, or even just articles. Has a focus on India.
- Free PR Now – A very simple press release aggregator that posts all releases on their homepage.
- Pitch Engine – Not technically free, you get a 14-day free trial of their service.
- BriefingWire – Not quite free, but a fee of $3 is virtually nothing.
- Press Release Ping – Another basic press release submission site.
- ClickPress – A site where you can submit both news and press releases.
- Transworld News – This site uses the third party FindIt site to manage submissions.
- Free Press Release Center – A simple press release site that is noteworthy in that it generated PDF releases as well as blog post releases.
- Press Release Post – A slightly hard to read site that offers free press release circulation.
- PR Fire – Another UK-focused press release site, with a wide variety of categories.
- NewPressRelease – Another relatively small press release aggregator.
- EWorldWire – A press release circulation service with press release hosting.
- ArticleCirculation – A very small and quite new site.
- SubmitPressRelease123 – No, I’m not just making up names at this point. This one has a free account but mostly paid services.
- Easy Press Release – A relatively small and slow-moving press release site.
- The Open Press – A pretty bland press release site with geographic tagging.
- Press Release Point – A press release site that itself has lists of press release sites on it.
Additional Niche PR Sites
These are additional press release submission locations for specific, narrow niches. Great if you’re relevant, worthless if you’re not.
- Nanotech Now – Press release submission for news specifically about nanotechnology.
- Beta News – A news site mostly focused on tech news, with a press release submission form.
- RTIR – A non-standard press release submission form, it links you up with radio and TV interviews.
- Thomas – Not just some guy named Tom, this site focused on Engineering and data analysis.
- Yumpu – Not strictly press releases, this site allows you to build a magazine, which can gain exposure on their page.
- Local News – Noteworthy for being a .biz that isn’t a virus, and for being dedicated to South Florida.
- ScoopAsia – A press release site focused on Asian countries, with plenty of English content.
- BusinessPortal24 – A European press release portal with versions for several different countries and languages.
- Web Know How – A sort of combination of press release host and eHow-style tutorial site.
- Hungary News Wire – For those of my readers I know live out in Hungary.
So, there you go. 50 free press release sites. Of them, well, you can guess that only maybe a dozen of them are worth using, but hey; that’s what you’re paying for. If you want the good sites, you’re going to have to pay for the exposure.