News Release Distribution Review UPDATED
NOTICE: This review is now out of date! Please check out my updated review for 2010:
One of the most popular blog posts on this site is my April, 2007 review of online news release distribution services. Because this review is so popular, I feel a responsibility to keep it updated. I last updated the original post in September, and since then I’ve been promising a complete overhaul. Now … here it is!
Before we get to the review, I should provide an overview of what online news release distribution can do for you. When you post a release on a good news release distribution service, they not only place the text of your release (along with a link to your site) on their website, but they also put your release in their RSS feeds. Those feeds are picked up by media outlets and websites, and are used as content. Some release distribution services also have digests that are sent to reporters.
There are two major benefits to news release distribution. One is that it’s a way to distribute your release to the media. The second is related to search engine optimization (SEO). When another website posts your release, including the link back to your website, you get a link back to your site. These links, known as backlinks, are viewed by search engines as votes. The more quality backlinks you have, the higher you generally rank. I generally recommend that businesses write and distribute a news release once per month as part of their link gathering efforts.
So, now that we know why you should be using this strategy, let’s discuss which service you should use. I’m going to break this review into two parts — the pay services and the free services. We’ll do the pay services first. In each case, I’ll try to point out changes from my last review. It’s not my goal to hit every single service in this review, as there are dozens of them. If you have one you’d like to discuss, please talk about it in comments!
Paid News Release Distribution
PR Newswire (PRN)
Cost: Varies, starting at $180 for a 400 word release
Review: PR Newswire has been around in one form or another for more than 50 years. They market themselves as being a mainstay among reporters and news organizations. Out of all of the distribution services, theirs is the one that would most likely lead to news coverage for your release. They also do a good job of distributing your release for use on other websites. Your release will rank highly on Google News for your keywords, and you’ll get plenty of quality backlinks.
The problem with PR Newswire is cost. They have a yearly fee that you have to pay for the priviledge of paying more to post your releases. I was told in a conversation with PRN’s president some weeks ago that they’re willing to waive that fee for small businesses, but everyone else has to pay $150 per year in addition to any other distribution fees. Releases start at $180 for distribution on their city or state wire. That’s for a short release of 450 words, though, and they charge you for each word after that. At that price, the distribution to the media is limited. If you want distribution to nationwide media, you’ll pay around $600 for a single release. With all of this said, I do think PR Newswire does a great job getting the word out to the media, and as I’ll say in a number of cases during this review — you get what you pay for.
Cost: Packages range from $80 to $360
Review: PRWeb has taken a different focus than PR Newswire. While PR Newswire focuses on the media relations portion of the online distribution equation, PRWeb focuses more on the search engine optimization and link gathering benefits, and they do it very well. It’s been my experience that if you post with them, you’ll get your backlinks … sometimes from some heavy hitters. Plus, the release posted on their site will rank fairly highly in the search rankings and on Google News. They don’t have quite the standing with journalists as PR Newswire, but they’re becoming more and more well known and they do have an additional package that include a special reporter distribution. The big benefit of PRWeb is cost. Pricing for basic PRWeb distribution starts at $80, and goes up to $360. For what you get, I believe those prices are reasonable.
They have other additional services that cost more, like their brand new online newsroom. I was offered a free trial of their newsroom service, and it’s a pretty good way to have all of your releases in one place, particularly if you don’t have the space on your own site to post all of them.
Cost: Varies, starting at $180 for the first 400 words
Review: BusinessWire seems to be trying to straddle the space between PRWeb and PR Newswire, offering SEO optimized news releases as well as good media distribution, and they’re doing a good job of both. Generally, online news release distribution is NOT the best way to get media coverage. I counsel clients to use it for link building, and if media coverage results then it’s a bonus. A basic release from BusinessWire will generate quality links for your release, and plenty of them. One thing I noticed, however, was that the basic release itself didn’t rank very well on the search engines. You expect an established paid service like BusinessWire to rank above free release services, and that wasn’t the case.
BusinessWire breaks its distribution into levels based on what media will be informed about your release. The national distribution is the most expensive, with state and city distribution below that. I recommend looking at the cost of citywide distribution versus state. There may not be a considerable difference between the two, so the state distribution might be worth the few extra dollars.
BusinessWire offers a fully optimized release that is similar to the one offered by PRWeb. The distribution, called EON, was originally developed in partnership with PRWeb’s parent company. This release costs an additional $225 above and beyond the regular price of distribution.
While I am very impressed with the number of backlinks generated by BusinessWire releases, time will tell whether they take PRWeb’s top spot for SEO releases. The primary issue is cost and the lack of a quality ranking for the BusinessWire version of the release.
Online PR News
Cost: $6 (free releases available)
Review: I was contacted by a representative of Online PR News months ago, and was offered a tryout of their service. It took me a while to get around to taking advantage of that offer, and I wish I’d done it sooner. Online PR News offers many of the same search engine optimization features of PRWeb, but at a very small fraction of the price. With your $6 release, you get anchor text links, a preview pane of your website, pull quotes, the standard social bookmarking shortcuts, and the ability to embed images, videos, and slideshows. All of these features add up to a well optimized and sticky release. I’m very impressed. They offer a free release option, but it does not include anchor text links or the ability to embed videos or slideshows.
Distribution appears to be good for the price. The Online PR News version of my release ranked well on Google and Google News, and it did spread to at least one other website … which is obviously one of the goals of online news release distribution.
I struggled over whether to include Online PR News in the free section, but the low price they’re requesting is well within any budget. I will definitely be utilizing their services in the future.
DISCLOSURE (added 10/1/09): I have done some consulting for OPN, and have since formed a loose partnership with them. I’ll be announcing more about this in the coming days and/or months. This review was written before I had any relationship with the owners of the site.
Cost: Distribution starting at $49.99
Review: This site was included in the free services last time around, but they have discontinued that free option (NOTE: This is a change from the last review!). Their basic distribution is now $49.99.
PR Leap has always been a good option for online distribution, and it’s a shame they discontinued the free option. But, if you’re looking for a less expensive service or perhaps a second site to post on, you should look into their service. Their releases are usually picked up by Google News and rank fairly well. They’ve put some attention into SEO, and it shows. I don’t believe they’re great at getting the word directly to reporters, but, bear in mind that reporters do use search engines to look for sources for stories. So, if your release is out there and ranks well, there’s the chance it could lead to coverage.
Cost: Distribution starting at $29.99
Review: PR.com is a service that wasn’t included in the last review. I love the domain name, of course, and their site appears very professional. You’ll find in many cases the low cost or free services look like spam sites, and in some cases they actually are. That isn’t the case with PR.com. I’ll be honest, i haven’t used this service yet, but I did some research into what they offer and how well their releases rank, and I’m reasonably impressed.
PR.com does have a free option, but I wouldn’t recommend bothering to use it. The free option will not include an active link from the release back to your site. Their basic distribution is $29.99 and includes links within the release. They claim to usually get inclusion in Google News and, from what I can see that’s true. They’re probably worth checking out as another low cost alternative to the bigger guys. I probably will consider them in the future.
Free News Release Distribution
Cost: Free (no ads)
Review: PitchEngine allows you to easily create social media press releases, complete with videos, images, supplementary information and links, and even a Twitter pitch!
When you sign up for the site and post your first release, you’re asked to create a profile for the organization behind the release. This can be somewhat time-consuming if you post releases for a number of different organizations. However, the way that information is used is very slick. On your final release, there will be a slide-down tab on the top with all of the info you enter about the org.
The only issue I have with PitchEngine is the system of entering your release. It’s mildly ponderous, but can be overlooked … given the price.
Edited on 5/30/09 to add: Pitchengine announced today that they are removing free releases from the feed that goes to Google. What this means is that free releases are no longer eligible for inclusion in Google News. The site’s owners say this is because spammers were using the site for SEO reasons.
Edited on 10/30/09 to add: It’s come to my attention that NO PitchEngine releases are currently being indexed by Google News. This includes those posted by paying subscribers. I’m told it’s a temporary issue. You can read PitchEngine founder Jason Kintzler’s response and explanation in the comments of this post.
24-7 Press Release
Cost: Free (ad supported), with a $49 paid option
Review: 24-7 Press Release does a good job of free distribution. I’m not fond of the name at all, as it sounds a bit low rent, but they do a good job. They have free and paid options, and a professional looking site. I’ve seen that their releases rank well for a free site … which is the most you can ask for from a free site. Generally, you will NOT get Google News inclusion from a free site. Their free option does not include a link within the release, but they will include one in a contact information box that’s on the page. They have a paid option of $49, which includes enhanced SEO benefits such as anchor text for links within the release.
24-7 Press Release does review all releases before they’re released. Now, this is a pain if you’re in a hurry, but presumably this means they’re filtering out the ones that are truly spam. Or, it could be that they’re trying to get you to pay for quicker distribution.
Cost: Free (ad supported)
Review: This is a site that i had some very nice things to say about in the original review. Unfortunately, that’s not the case any longer. This Bulgarian-based site has gone in the wrong direction, in my opinion. The site has started accepting job listings and they’ve added quite a few unattractive elements to the site in general. With all of the additions, the site has become confusing and looks a great deal like a spam site. A lot of the releases you’ll find on the front page are not so much releases as poorly written blog posts. It’s obvious that there’s little quality control, and they were concerned that they weren’t getting enough traffic. Unfortunately, it also appears that their releases are no longer being indexed by Google News.
With all of this said, release from PRLog still rank very well on Google. If you can tolerate the look and feel of the site, it’s something worth considering. It’s free, so you don’t have any money to lose. And, with the decision by PitchEngine to neuter its free service, PRLog is looking more attractive.
Cost: Free (ad supported) with a $25 paid option
Review: This is another good free distribution site that has a paid option. Their service is similar to 24-7 Press Release in that the site looks professional. They allow you one link within your release, and have additional options in their $25 paid option.
The Open Press
Cost: Free (ad supported) with a $10 paid option
Review: This is a great free distribution site, with one downside. Signing up is extremely ponderous. Currently, you cannot sign up on the site, but rather you have to send an email and request to be registered. The explanation given is that they’ve had issues with spammers. Once you go through that process, however, the site is very good. It looks businesslike, and the releases posted there rank well in Google web search. Tasteful ads are placed on your release, which can be removed by paying $10.
Review: This site is a bit different in that it takes more of a social networking approach to news release distribution. Releases are voted for, similar to the Digg system. They’re worth checking out.
Cost: Free to post on their site (ad supported) and $15 to distribute elsewhere
Review: This site has another different concept. You can not only post a release on the PressReleasePoint site, but but for $15 they claim to be able to post your release on more than 50 other free distribution sites. I’ve not tried the service, but I must admit that what they offer is interesting.
I do have some concerns about the site and the concept for this service. The first is that Google’s duplicate content rule may come into play after the same content is posted on that many sites. Another problem is the layout of the site. The text in the releases frequently ends up ON TOP of the advertising on the site. My final concern is a big one, as it has to do with credibility. The text on the website itself (not just the releases posted by users) is riddled with grammatical errors. It appears to be written by someone without a good grasp of the English language. My suggestion to the owners is that they have a professional copy editor go through the site with a fine-toothed comb.
The Best of the Best
So, which of these sites are the BEST?
For SEO: PRWeb
PRWeb has the best mix of available SEO options, and their prices are reasonable.
For Media Visibility: PR Newswire
It’s hard to beat PR Newswire’s reputation among journalists and the media distribution they offer.
For Free Distribution: PRLog
Despite unfortunate decisions from the ownership of the site, releases rank very well on Google … which in the end is the name of the game for SEO PR.
Honorable Mention: Online PR News
It’s hard to know where to rank this site. It’s not a free site, but their $6 price is extremely manageable. Regardless of what you call them, the features they offer are outstanding for the price, and the releases rank well.
Now … Discuss!
Disagree? Agree? Did I miss one I shouldn’t have? Discuss in comments below!