Press Releases – To Pay or Not To Pay – Paid vs. Free Release Distribution Services

Paid vs. Free Press Releases

Paid vs. Free Press Releases

Press Releases – To Pay or Not To Pay – Paid vs. Free Release Distribution Services

You have something new to announcement about your business, new product or non-profit, you’ve written the press release, you want the widest exposure possible, and now do you pay for the distribution or do you use the multitude of “free” press releases services enticing you online with promises?

Paid services like PRNewswire and PRWeb have various tiered pricing to choose from, depending on if you include media or extra words in the release, as well as, what demographic regions and how many you want the release to be distributed out to. If you buy the best package, it can cost you several thousand dollars, or for the lowest word count and no media attached, several hundred dollars.

But those free press release services are just too tempting. How do you know whether you should pay or use a free service?

Are Press Releases Still Important?

Many so-called “experts” are saying that we no longer need press releases or that they’re worthless. It’s simply not true. The truth is we have all excelled in the marketing game and grown up. The trend now is to use best practices and principles of traditional media.

Press releases are written in a traditional format of delivering news. Journalists are used to getting information in release format, and now marketers have adapted to that as well. It’s written with particular rules and truths that captures the story and the details.

Publishing a press release online ensures that it’s part of the date time record.
Publishing the release in your website’s online media room is another important feature.

You have to know that most major publicity in top-tier media outlets, originate from the result of a customized pitch specifically targeted for that media outlet, and part of a bigger PR campaign. So journalists who are covering your story, and consumers who are visiting your website, will expect to find the traditional press releases because that’s how they are used to getting information they need.

Here’s a quick overview that will explain the pros and cons of free and paid services. I have my own experience (and opinion) that I’ll share later.

Advantages of the Free Services

If you do a Google search for “free press release services” you’ll find an amazing array of options. You can choose from more than 50.

Here are three advantages to using a free service:

  1. You can’t afford a paid service.
  2. You’re willing to promote your press release aggressively on the social media sites. A release with an enticing headline, helpful or entertaining content, and a powerful call to action can still pull traffic and sell your products and services if many people share it.
  3. The release includes minor news that you simply want to get on the record. If media outlets and bloggers don’t pick it up, no big deal.
Disadvantages of the Free Services

The old saying “You get what you pay for” is big here. Some people learn this too late, after they’ve posted to multiple free sites and they receive little traffic, no orders or calls from the media, and worse no digital search around the release. Here are six disadvantages to using the free sites.

  • Time: It takes an enormous amount of computer time logging into the free sites, creating user/passcodes and then uploading the release to each site. Time is money, this takes hours.
  • Most of the free services don’t distribute your release.
  • These free sites exist primarily to park the release at their websites and entice contributors to pay for upgrades.
  • Click click means money for the free release site, not you, connecting to someone else’s Google AdSense campaigns.
  • The releases uploaded on these sites have no lasting SEO power if any at all – personally I’ve tested PR campaign releases on multiple sites, only to find months later when I simply type in the release headline, nothing shows up in the search. That means the release pretended to be an announced release, yet it really went nowhere, and had no SEO value.

My recommendation is to go for a paid press release service like PR Newswire or PRWeb. If you’re staging a PR campaign, allocate the distribution dollars to make it all worth it. PR Newswire has many offers, ranging from $300 to $2,500, and those releases have amazing SEO power. Of course the pickup always depends on how well the release is written and the relevancy of the topic. PRWeb is only a digital distribution service, but has powerful options of including video, links and additional media graphic collateral to make the story pop in the eyes of other media channels picking it up and publishing. Starting for under $400, you can distribute a multi-media release and tell your story.

One other important note: If you plan to promote a press release, make sure you follow the traditional principles of writing it, great headline and something newsworthy to say. Either learn the principles of writing one or hire a publicist to get the biggest bang for your money.

About LynAnn King, Publicist, KingSings PR |

LynAnn is a marketing and publicity expert who educates people on marketing strategies, messaging and landing publicity. She is an experienced publicist and teaches entrepreneurs how to use the media to establish their credibility, enhance their reputation, position themselves as experts, sell more products and services, or even promote a favorite cause or issue. She has consistently landed local and national coverage for her PR clients that has included Wall Street Journal, USA Today, NY Times, SF Chronicle, SJ Mercury News and more.

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