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Step 5: Distributing Your Press Release

Workshop Steps: [Hover over a link for more info.]

Where should you send your news release, now that it is completed? The first thing you need to do is identify media outlets most likely to cover your story, and to build a media list.

Building a Media List

Building a targeted media list is an invaluable tool for most businesses. The best way to build your list is to carefully watch track media publications and shows, and to identify reporters and producers who would be interested in your story. Call the media outlets to get the phone and fax number, and mailing address of the journalists you would like to send your release to.

Tip: Using a contact management software program such as ACT! or Maximizer for this purpose can help you build and maintain relationships with the media.

There are several sources online that will help you build your media list; however, keep in mind that not all of these sources will have up-to-date media information.

Distributing your News Release: the Wires

Newswires distribute your press release directly to editors, other media outlets like Routers and they also publish the press releases on their website. Many journalists rely on newswire sites for information and story ideas. Wires are often used by larger companies and non-profit organizations. They have the advantage of immediately reaching a broad range of media outlets across the country. The cost is usually $275 - $600 to send a single release, with pricing based on the number of words in your release (a minimum word count will usually apply.)

The main wires include:

  • Canada Newswire
  • CCNMatthews -- primarily for bigger businesses
  • Business Wire
  • PR Newswire
  • PR Web - this newswire uses an innovative approach. You can send a press release for free using their service, but they ask you to make a voluntary contribution. They claim to be the "... largest Newswire catering to small and medium sized companies and organizations and one of the largest online press release newswires. "

Distributing your News Release: Mail, Fax, or Email

You can send the news release directly to the media yourself, using the mail, fax, or email. When in doubt about the best option, ask the journalists you will be sending your release to. This can have the advantage of creating a more personal connection with the people you send the release to. It can also be a more cost-effective option if you are targeting a small list of journalists.

Building a list of media contacts

Newswires offer a fast way to send your press release to a large number of editors. However, you can also build your own list of media contacts using any of a number of media databases. Most charge either a monthly, annual or per use subscription fee. Here are a few places you can use to get started.

Bowdens: this media directory offers per use and subscriptions to their online database and is based in Canada.
CCN Matthews: another Canadian media directory that offers both a subscription and a distribution service. They also have their own wire service, which is listed above.
Media Post: you can still lookup media contacts for free using this database, but the categories we tested had a lot of defunct listings.
Online directories: check online directories if you want to build a small, targeted list. The CCN Matthews website also has a list of links to Canadian media websites in the Media Folder section of their website.

Timing your distribution

It is best to send your news release early in the day and you will have a better chance of getting your story noticed if your release is not sent on a busy news day. For example, sending a news release out as a major strike or natural disaster was taking place would not be good timing. Monday and Tuesdays are usually busy news days and by Friday most assignments have been handed out as journalists get ready for the weekend.

One of the best ways to get your news release noticed is to "piggyback" or "tag" your story on a popular current topic. Some example of themes that tend to come up on a regular basis include obesity in children and literacy. In Ontario in 2004 the topic of dog bites became very "hot" with stories and letters to the editor being published on almost a daily basis. Many dog trainers got publicity for their businesses that they would not normally have received as journalists were looking for experts to comment on proposed legislation. These topics are often very time sensative.

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