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The Best Way to Distribute Your Press Releases — PR Firm or Cheap Wire Service? A press release is a press release, right? Wrong. For this critical asset that announces something vital about you or your business, you should know the differences between going the professional route and taking a lower-cost but usually less effective approach.

Key Takeaways

  • Professional PR offers targeted personalized distribution, enhancing credibility and coverage.
  • Cheap wire provides broad reach, lower engagement, and diluted messaging potential.
  • Investing in PR yields higher cost, greater ROI, consistent messaging

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the world of public relations, the method of distributing a press release can significantly impact its reach and impact. Two common distribution methods are using a professional public relations company and utilizing a self-published wire service. Understanding the differences between these approaches can help businesses make informed decisions that align with their communication goals.

If the idea is to grow your business and enhance ROI, go with a pro. If you're just looking for something to splash on the internet for a quick link, you can definitely go the DIY route … but beware that you may be wasting your time and money. Here are some of the key distinctions in four primary categories I've amassed over the years of running my own PR firm and distributing countless press releases.

Category #1: Quality of distribution

Quality matters. Always has, always will. And when it comes to this aspect of an effective press release, you'll want to compare and contrast these fundamental characteristics of varying distribution approaches.

Professional PR Company:

  • Targeted Approach: A professional PR company hand-selects the distribution list based on the target audience for the press release, ensuring that it reaches the most relevant journalists, influencers, and media outlets.
  • Value of Relationships: Established PR firms have strong relationships with key media personnel, which increases the likelihood of your press release being picked up and featured. In other words, you'll get more features more in line with where you want to appear when you take advantage of existing media connections.
  • Personalization: A skilled PR team tailors content to make it most appealing to the recipient's interests. Not only that, but press releases are often accompanied by a personalized pitch written specifically for your company, giving you double the bang for your buck.
  • Customized Curation: When you hire a PR company to craft your press release, they'll conceive, write, and edit it for you, employing the appropriate tone for the news item and incorporating elements most business owners don't know to include themselves if they're self-publishing. Also, the majority of PR-managed distributions work with editors of high-profile publications who will give you feedback on your release to give it more traction and potential to grow your audience.

Cheap Wire Distribution:

  • Broad & Generic: Easy-to-access, affordable wire services typically blast the press release to a vast, often untargeted list of contacts. This can lead to more impressions, yes, but it more often results in lower actual engagement and, in turn, disappointing media coverage.
  • Limited Reach: These services might reach a higher volume of recipients, but that doesn't mean they're reaching the right recipients for your news item — those higher-profile media outlets and journalists that can actually secure you coverage.
  • Lack of Personal Touch: Wire services generally send press releases en masse with very little, if any, personalization. Because the release is going to no one in particular, there's a shortage of particulars that would make the content and messaging more attractive to busy journalists.
  • Danger of "Tone-Deafness": At core, a press release is a news article, and news needs to have an angle to hook the intended audience. If you write it and distribute it yourself and it doesn't hit its mark because it's off-tone or off-point, it can possibly damage your brand identity.

Category #2: Impact on brand image

Speaking of brand image, your press release should always aim to elevate it, not neutralize it or even deflate it, by displaying your awareness of professional expectations and the importance of company reputation.

Professional PR Company:

  • Credibility & Trust: When your press release is sent out by a reputable PR firm, it enhances the credibility of your brand by signaling to the media and consumers that your business cares about professional standards and is invested in high-caliber communications.
  • Consistent Messaging: Utilizing a PR agency ensures that your messaging will align with your overall brand strategy. Maintaining consistency across all communications and platforms is central to establishing a relevant and reliable voice.

Cheap Wire Distribution:

  • Brand Perception: In contrast, wide-scale, low-end wire distribution can be interpreted as a lack of investment in quality corporate communications, which can affect how your brand is perceived by the media and the public.
  • Message Dilution: The generic nature of wire distribution can lead to diluted messaging that doesn't resonate as effectively with your target audience. If you're going to put your message out there, you want it to land.

Category #3: Media coverage and results

Now it's time to think about what you want your press release to produce, not just its content and viewership.

Professional PR Company:

  • Higher Media Pickup: With targeted outreach and established media relationships, professional PR companies can secure more and better-quality media placements.
  • Measurable Results: PR firms often provide detailed reports on the outcomes of your press release distribution, offering insights into media coverage, audience reach, and engagement metrics.

Cheap Wire Distribution:

  • Lower Media Pickup: Although broad-base wire services may offer a wide reach, the actual media pickup is often (much) lower due to the untargeted nature of the distribution.
  • Limited Analytics: Some of these services provide basic reports, but you'll rarely receive in-depth analysis and useful insights that can improve your future assets.

Category #4: Cost vs. value

Lastly, you'll of course want to consider cost, since your budget is a very real factor when determining what your business can and cannot afford to invest in right now.

Professional PR Company:

  • Higher Initial Investment: Professional PR services typically entail a higher up-front fee. That said, you get what you pay for, with the cost reflecting both the quality and personalized nature of the work.
  • Greater ROI: Because PR companies increase the likelihood of on-target media placements, you can expect heightened brand awareness and perception that in turn generate a greater return on investment.

Cheap Wire Distribution:

  • Lower Initial Cost: Cheap wire services are understandably appealing due to their lower cost, making them accessible for smaller businesses or those with limited funds.
  • Variable ROI: However, the cost savings may be offset by the lower effectiveness and impact. So it's fine to start with vast wire distribution, but then move to a more concentrated PR strategy if your ROI is disappointing.

Choosing between a professional PR company and a lower-cost wire distribution service depends on your business's goals, budget, and desired outcomes. While professional PR firms offer targeted, high-quality distribution that can significantly enhance your brand's visibility and credibility, cheap wire services provide a more cost-effective but less impactful alternative. For businesses seeking long-term media relationships and substantial media coverage, investing in a professional PR company is often the more advantageous choice.

Emily Reynolds Bergh

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder at R Public Relations Firm

Emily Reynolds Bergh — vintage-shoe hoarder, cycling junkie, & lover of pink drinks — is a marketing & PR pro with 15+ years of experience under her belt. Now the founder & owner of the award-winning R Public Relations based in New York, she’s been featured in numerous publications & podcasts.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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