PR Expert: 5 Common Press Release Distribution Mistakes To Avoid

MediaHQ.com, PR Pain Points, Press Release
August 27, 2019
by Mary Mtabali

In the PR world, there’s one thing that makes all PR pros shiver– press release distribution to the right media contacts.

So, you’ve done all the hard work. You’ve come up with a wonderful creative idea, you’ve shaped it into a great press release or a wonderful pitch and you now have to get it out to the world. What is the challenge? How can you get it to the widest possible audience or relevant journalists in the quickest time? What are the common mistakes when it comes to press release distribution?

We have put together five popular pain points for press release distribution and how you can overcome them;

  1. No system in place: Loads of data entry on different files 

Let’s be honest, most PR pros still use media lists that are usually an extensive excel sheet with a dozen or so columns, hundreds of lines, and cells in various colours. Taking into account everything that should be included in it and how often journalists change editorial offices, it’s hard to keep order in such a document. PR pros are generally busy and in that madness, they often find themselves stuck in the trap of trying to distribute their releases to properly updated media lists because of the challenging process involved.

In short, they have no system in place for better data entry.

Excel files are a thing of the past–PR is becoming increasingly bold in trying out new technologies that support it in everyday tasks. You’re better off using an online press release distribution service instead of shoddy excel files.

Media contacts database platforms like MediaHQ give you all the PR tools and media lists you need via one single platform. You no longer have to navigate from one Excel file to another to distribute your press releases.  At MediaHQ, our service allows you to send out your release to relevant journalists, without having to do any of the manual work yourself. The service is like a one-stop-shop where you can find media contacts, avail of or create your media lists and distribute your release all in one.

Although the cost of press release distribution might seem off-putting, just remember that time is money. And by letting the experts distribute your news story, you can spend more of your own time doing the things that make a difference to your bottom line.

So, if you fancy taking distribution off your plate, a press release distribution tool like MediaHQ will gladly take the job off your hands. The popular online media tool is used by Ireland’s leading brands and government departments (Houses of the Oireachtas, Revenue Commissioners, Dublin Airport Authority–just to mention a few) to distribute press releases to over 6,500 contacts.

2. Hopelessly out of date media contacts – some dead 

How often do you update your media base? Most PR pros do it alarmingly rarely–probably once a year in some cases. However, updating your database rarely means that there’s a chance for your press releases to be distributed to wrong email addresses. Journalists are always on the move. Some might even have died.

By using an online media contacts database service integrated with a press release distribution platform, you don’t have this problem. Take for instance here at MediaHQ, we have a team of researchers who analyse all the contacts in the database on an ongoing basis (day after day) and keeps them updated. Thanks to this, our clients reduce the risk of their press releases resulting in low open rates and minimise the bounce rate, and they can be sure that their work doesn’t go to waste.

3. Too many bounces 

Through our day to day chats with PR experts, we have discovered that having too many bounces is a headache for them. Add to that, trying to track those bounced emails to establish why they bounced is a tedious process what with the limited time they have on their hands. This goes back to a point that we discussed previously that outdated media contacts are not useful in press release distribution. These often lead to bounced emails, unanswered pitches, missed opportunities and only lead to poor media relations.

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So what’s the solution for this? One of the most important parts of a press distribution platform is that the media contacts are as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

A top-notch press release distribution platform should have a dedicated research team who keep the contacts database as accurate as possible. If they don’t have a research team for that then you’re better off staying away from them as much as possible.

4. No agile way to do it quickly 

‘Not sure which journalists might be interested so I’ll distribute it to all of them to save on time’

It’s a common problem–if you do not have an agile way of distributing your press release, you’ll be stuck in a rut. For example, if journalists in your file aren’t properly tagged, it might be hard for you to know who to distribute your newest releases to. And sending them to everyone on your list may be a small sin when done once but can affect your open rate in the long run if done repeatedly. Journalists will start perceiving you as a spammer and won’t even bother to read another press release sent from your company’s address.

Solution? Tag and group your contacts according to areas that they cover. Press release distribution platforms can do the job of tagging for you leaving you with enough time to concentrate on your other PR tasks.

Say for instance you want to share some exciting news, I’ll bet you’re tempted to stand on top of a mountain and announce it to as many people as possible. You want everyone to hear about it, right?

However, that’s not always the right thing to do, not everyone is interested in your story.

Ouch! Brutal, but honest.

Along with crafting a press release that journalists are interested in, you’ll need to be super-specific with the people to whom you send your pitches.

For example, let’s say you run a cancer charity. You’ve conducted some research around health, gathered some interesting data, and turned it into a killer press release. But mailing every journalist under the sun is probably going to be a waste of time.

An easy way to find relevant journalists who would be interested in your press release is to use a media contacts database which has a press release distribution platform. At MediaHQ, we currently have over 6,500 media contacts on our database that you can engage with in Ireland. Our database is tailored just for you! All the contacts are tagged according to areas that they cover under different lists. For instance, if you were searching for journalists that cover health news, you could get them at the click of a button by just typing the keyword ‘health’ on the search engine. You would then get a list of all the journalists who typically cover health news and you can create your unique list based on media type or location.

Using our media contacts database is much more likely to get you responses because you’re only pitching the release to journalists who’ve demonstrated an interest in your topic already.

5. Too much grunt work

Every day there are loads of hours lost by PR experts who try to compile media lists probably from old media contact directories or newspapers. Our CEO Jack Murray always tells us the story of one senior PR manager who used to work for a large government department. He decided to sign up with MediaHQ after getting tired of handing an outdated media contacts book to his secretary and getting her to type it into excel.

Trying to extract information from books into sheets is such a manual process that could end up compromising the distribution of your press release.

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The aim of press release distribution platforms and media contacts databases is to  place the right information, at the right time in PR people’s hands and remove hundreds of hours of grunt work off their desks.

To wrap it …

Perhaps after reading this article, you’ve a headache just thinking about all the issues you may face when dealing with a media contacts database that has a press release distribution platform, but remember–it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Pick the right media database provider wisely.

At MediaHQ, we offer free demos so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. We have the ultimate guide to press release distribution to get you out of this chaotic mind-numbing mess.

We have been at the helm of assisting hundreds of organisations to distribute their releases for over 12 years now, we know that if nobody sees your release, you won’t get very far. Our years of experience have taught us that you need to distribute it effectively to get your story picked up by relevant media.

Finding the right press release distribution platform will help you get back on track and let you clear your mind so you can stop worrying about those excel files and start worrying about something else. Like what are you going to do this weekend or what to have for lunch.

Did you find these guidelines for distributing your press release helpful? If you would like to learn how MediaHQ can further help you to effectively distribute your releases, you can sign up for a free demo of our software. Click here to find out more or call Gaye on (01) 254 1845.