He was working for an agency that covered the Pennsylvania Railroad when a train wreck took the lives of more than 50 people. Lee was the PR expert for the railroad at that time, and he convinced the owners to issue a statement.
Instead of waiting to see how journalists would cover the story, he wrote a release and distributed it to journalists. This response to the disaster became a practice for most companies who wanted to address issues important to them.
The New YorK Times was impressed with how Lee wrote the statement that they printed it exactly how he had written it. The press release was born!
We may live in a different time, and the technology has evolved rapidly, but there are things that a press release can do that are still relevant today.
- A press release can share information about an event, product, meeting or any newsworthy topic quickly and effectively.
- A press release gives you a platform to share your opinion on why a product is unique. You can also respond to claims made by others and explain why your company is important.
- A press release gives you the chance to provide correct information to refute all fake news out there.
It has been more than a century since Lee made an innovation in the PR industry. What he started is still being used today for a variety of purposes.
Ivy Lee was more than just a PR expert working with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Top management consulted him regarding many major decisions related to operations.
The press release has had its share of haters. Some experts say that it is no longer effective especially after the Panda update a few years ago.
According to the API (American Press Institute), over 30% of Americans get their news mainly from newswires. This is still a significant number which would put the haters' arguments to rest.
Data would show that despite setbacks from Google updates, online press releases are still a most sought-after form of news sourcing.
The added benefits of having a press release:
- More traffic from keyword placement
- Wide distribution and referral traffic from news outlets
- Exposure from social sharing
- Excellent source of content for journalists
- Fresh content for frequent indexing
A Nintendo press release on BusinessWire was able to drive 500,000 views in a single day. 60% of the traffic came from social media which proves that shares on social networks can make an impact for a press release. The release also gave a 300% increase in daily traffic for BusinessWire. Added coverage on media outlets like The Washington Post and CNBC has made the Nintendo release one of the most effective online press releases lately.
We have proven that a press release is not dead as some may claim. It is now time to decide whether you should go for a free press release distribution site or a paid service.
After writing your press release, the next step is to distribute it for media outlets to pick it up.
Press release distribution companies distribute your release to many locations and websites. They can be published on newswires, magazines, online publications and other media outlets. Journalists look for stories that they can write about on newswires.
Paid services like Press Release Newswire offer different packages for distribution. The prices will vary depending on features, upgrades, analytics and media placement. Your release will also be posted on their website.
Free service distribution companies publish your releases on their websites without any fee. Small businesses and startups are those who consider getting this type of service.
Here are some Advantages of Free Distribution
- Great for those with zero budget for marketing, no need to worry about paying for publishing your releases to newswires and other sites.
- Social media posting of releases are allowed
- You can test if your story is newsworthy without having to pay for it
Disadvantages of Free Distribution:
- They may seem attractive but expect to get what you pay for which is…
- Most free services only publish your release on their site and don't distribute your release. There is also a limited time for your release to be seen on their website. You need to pay for distribution services by availing of their packages.
- Google ads and links are inserted into your release which makes your audience exit the page.
- You don't have access to customer service, if you find errors on your release, you can't do anything about it.
- You won't get any reports or analytics. You will never know how far your release has reached online.
- There is a chance that your release may contain Google ads that belong to your competitor.
- Google looks at most free distribution services as spam and press release directories which may lower your ranking and SEO.
Advantages of Paid Distribution
- More cost effective in the long-term
- They send your release to various newsrooms, media and news sites, portals, search engines and databases. They can also publish to your target industry.
- Majority of paid services offer 24/7 chat support and help desk.
- You get reports and analytics so that you can track how well your release is doing. Reports will indicate how many people viewed your release, unique visitors, monthly page views and where you appear on the web.
- Brands have the option to select the reach of their release. You can opt for local, city, state, regional or national depending on your budget.
- Paid releases can provide results
Disadvantages of Paid Distribution
Most companies complain that paid PR services don't give their desired media publicity. Despite the reports and analytics that these paid services provide the bottom line when it comes to ROI is questionable.
There may be charts and graphs that show numbers, but conversions and sales are not moving even with the positive reports.
Views don't always lead to conversions which is what you need to take note of. Paid services guarantee that your release will be seen or viewed. They don't give an assurance that these views, no matter how big their numbers are will translate to sales.
If you find paid services to be too steep for your budget, you can pitch to journalists directly and save up on paid PR costs.