Press Release Submission Guide [+ List of Submission Sites]

A press release is your first opportunity to gain media coverage. While there is no one-size-fits-all way to do this, there are some key things to remember to maximize your chances of it getting picked up. Here, we will explain everything about press release submissions, submission sites, and PR outreach and provide a list of submission sites to use.

published: May 8, 2023
updated: July 27, 2023

What is online press distribution, and why is it important?

Online distribution refers to sending your press release to websites and other outlets that may cover your news via an online distributor. The rise of digital media makes online press distribution crucial in modern public relations.

Online press distribution is a powerful medium for communicating your message to a wider audience and for raising brand awareness.

The idea is to get your message out to as many people as possible to get it picked up by the media.

This guarantees its reach to those most interested to hear about it while serving the added bonus of improving SEO, helping it appear on multiple websites and at the top of search results, highlighting your credibility.

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What is a press release, and what is a press release submission?

A press release is a written public announcement that organizations send out to inform the public about something noteworthy or significant about the organization. A press release submission involves sending out your news release to online press release distributors to distribute to their channels to be picked up by journalists and reporters looking for a story.

Alternatively, you can reach out to journalists directly, creating a tailor-made pitch for their audiences and building relationships over time.

The difference between press release submission sites and PR outreach

As I’ve said, there are two ways of sending a press release.

  • Sending via an online press release website (submission sites)
  • Directly reaching out to journalists (PR outreach)

The major difference between them is that with online distributors, you get a ready-made contact list. You won’t need to research and contact people yourself as this is taken care of.
The lists in question are by category and often involve syndication - meaning, blogs, news sites, magazines, and other websites pull them, giving an excellent opportunity to increase your visibility to your relevant audiences.

However, there are some drawbacks. Unlike direct pitching, there is no contact with those who have the power to decide whether to cover your story or not. This removes the chance to build relationships with reporters.

High-quality, tailored pitching can be more beneficial when trying to get a busy journalist's attention. This is because a well-thought-out, hand-crafted pitch to a targeted contact is more likely to hit the mark over mass distribution. By showing awareness and respect for their audience, you’re more likely to make it relevant to them and get actual coverage for your release.

How to submit a press release

While a lot of the work is done for you, if you decide to try a press distribution service, there are still some things you need to consider to get the most out of these services. We’ve created a checklist to make it easier.

Infographic > How to submit a press release
1

Create your press release

First things first. You need to create a compelling press release to grab the reader's attention. Hundreds of press releases are sent to journalists daily, and reporters only have a short time to read them.

It all starts with the title. Craft an attention-grabbing headline that summarizes your news and makes the reader want to read. Next, give a clear opener that provides the key information of the announcement and why it's relevant to them.

Think to yourself: Why should they care? What's in it for them? Consider using the “pyramid approach,” where you present information in descending order of importance, from the most important to the least.

Impactful quotes from genuine sources add credibility and legitimacy to what you say, so use these. Don't forget to include contact details and a boilerplate about your company. Lastly, read it, and once it passes the understandability test (get someone with less knowledge to read and understand it), your press release is ready to be distributed.

2

Create a list of outlets

As you’ll see, there are many options to choose from, free and paid. Begin by making a list of distributors who can reach your ideal audience. How do you find this out? Many will tell you (well, brag) about who they distribute to, but research is still needed. You’ll need to look at the fine print as there may be a catch to some of the bigger publications they promise access to. But with some research (don’t forget to read reviews!), you can hone in and target the sites most valuable to you and save precious time and effort in the long run.

3

Make your release SEO-friendly

Well, as much as possible...I’ll explain why. Google cottoned on to the fact that people were throwing in backlinks wherever possible and that these links often failed to provide “value,” as it's just a company trying to promote something.

Also, if you spam every news site possible via countless press release distributors, this is not SEO-friendly. But there are still some things you can do. If you write an engaging, well-written press release with high-quality content only to relevant and reputable news sites, then yes, you're onto a winner regarding SEO.

4

Follow submission guidelines

Make sure to follow the guidelines provided by the distributor. Often there are just a few simple steps, but re-read them to ensure you don’t miss anything. Releases that do not follow guidelines could be discarded without a glance. Make sure to follow the press release format. Most will simply ask you to copy-and-paste your text on their editor. Submitting in line with their guidelines means fewer delays in sending your release and a much smoother process overall.

5

Follow up

Your job isn't over. You need to follow up with anyone you know who would’ve received your announcement. Having a name and direct email helps. I suggest waiting 24-48 hours. You need to seem keen but professional and not too pushy. Give them time to reply to your follow-up email. Your follow-up should be courteous, and ask if they've had a chance to review it. Nobody likes to be hounded, so respect their time and patience.

6

Track and analyze results

Most distributors (both paid and not) offer some form of analytics for you to track results. You need to track this to see how effective your outreach is, which sites or publications work for you and which do not. Many provide data on media coverage gained, audience demographics such as location, performance metrics such as search engine rankings, and information about audience engagement (click-through rates, page views, or reads). Not every distributor provides this. However, analysis of the number of social shares, mentions, and backlinks generated by your release can be determined with other tools and analytics. This will help you to see which of your outreach efforts resonate the most.

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Tips for a successful press release submission

Here are two more tips to help you get the most out of your press release submission.

1. Timing is crucial

The best period to send is Tuesday - Thursday. 

The best day would be Thursday. The best time would be between 10 am - 2 pm.

There may be industry variations for this, but these are few and far between. So try and stick to this. Remember, if you use a submission site, it may take 24-48 hours before they send it, so be sure to check their terms and get in early if they don’t send it right away or on the day.

2. Use multimedia content

Using multimedia content (images, videos, etc.) increases the likelihood of your story being covered by the media. This content can help convey your message and grab an editor's attention. Make sure you pick a distributor that caters to this and that the image won’t be compromised or altered using their platform.

Top 20 free press release submission websites

You can submit a free press release. When it comes to free press release submission sites, you get what you pay for, as the adage says. There are often heavy restrictions, be it in the number of releases you can send, where it goes, and what can be included. Many operate as feed pages, and the chances of someone picking up on it are small. That said, free is free, and with a minimal amount of effort, you may see results.

1

PR Leap

Even though PR Leap does not offer the same features as others on this list, it's a good option if you are looking for a simple, no-frills service.  It automatically formats articles for social media and devices with the press release template. Press releases can be targeted to a specific geographic location in the U.S. Businesses can create a brand page and online newsroom, depending on the plan selected. Up to five images or videos and five keyword tags can be included in press releases for free. PRLeap does not offer phone or live chat support.

2

IssueWire

While IssueWire has a variety of paid plans, users can send out one free press release using their service. The platform provides users with video embedding, detailed press release statistics, an SEO audit, and mobile distribution. Sadly, this package does not include Google, Google News, Yahoo, Bing, and Apple News. There are several things to remember when using the free plan: indexing press releases in search engines, targeting specific audiences are not included, and placements are not guaranteed.

3

OpenPR

OpenPR is a budget-friendly distribution and press release writing service for small businesses. A German-based press release distribution service, openPR offers a standard range of services, including writing services, backlink additions, and free banner ads. The platform offers free and paid packages, although businesses can only submit a free press release per month. Although many will find this and the standard features ample, it lacks more robust tools, such as advanced targeting and same-day distribution, which other competitors offer.

4

PR Free

PR Free distributes press releases for free to major search engines and news sites. The free plan includes live URL links, search engine distribution, and in-page sharing buttons. The free version of PRFree features a simple, user-friendly dashboard and an online press room. Although the free plan does not include a company website link or embedded images, it does offer a media contact database, specialty circuits, and distribution reports. Customer support is only available online.

5

PR Fire

PRFire.com might be the site for you if you're looking for free press release distribution in the UK. The site allows you to write and upload a press release which, in turn, gets monitored by their team to ensure quality before being distributed. If you are concerned only with UK distribution and want to expand without costing you, this could be your answer.

Here, there are four packages available: Free, Premier, Customized, or Advanced. The difference comes in how much exposure your press release will get and how much third-party advertising you will need to display. In a free press release, adverts and a list of related releases will be at the bottom. Effectively, you may serve as a communication tool for other businesses.

7

Online PR News

Online PR News is a free distribution site that offers basic distribution to major search engines and news sites. You may submit one press release daily using the free press release service. The releases cover all the necessary details and allow you to include a live URL in the media contact area. Customer support is a strong point of this company, and the blogs and guidelines can be useful sources of information for those who need a few tips.

8

PR Zoom

PR Zoom offers free press releases, but unfortunately, the paid-for releases on their site get preferential treatment. PR Zoom offers free ad-supported press releases, so any affiliates of PR Zoom will have an advertisement on your release. You can't upload your logo or article to these free press releases, so it can confuse people. You'll need to be a big enough entity to use a corporate email address to register, or you cannot use the free service. Overall, the site is good for those who want immediate visibility.

9

Pressbox

As seen, the distribution of press releases can be costly, but the site PressBox.co.uk offers a free if not basic, service that can help get your message across. There is a "how to write a press release" section for customers unsure where to start when drafting a press release. PressBox provides a free but basic service when writing a press release. More than 700 media professionals subscribe to receive press releases on specific topics, and they also produce a media list for each assignment, but distribution numbers are small.

10

1888pressrelease.com

Another free service. 1888 Pressrelease’s free service does not distribute to websites, blogs, news networks, or social platforms. Only their website. With no phone or email support, you will need to know what you’re doing and get it right the first time, as you cannot retract it after. The only other service options under the free plan are SEO services, which cost an additional $50.00.

11

PressReleasePoint

Press Release Point is another press release distribution service with a free option. Paid users can get great value for money at $5 a press release, but distribution is to a relatively narrow audience of about 40 media outlets. The free plan is limited to one release every three months, so beneficial only for very small businesses. Almost all other features are chargeable also.

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12

freePRnow

With this site, it is possible to edit a submission and remove and delete a previously submitted press release. It is also possible to remove and delete a previously submitted press release. A useful tip section for novices gives advice on keywords and general press release no-nos. Your release will appear on their page only.

13

Market Press Release

It is worth noting that Market Press Release is another free, if not restricted, site. However, you are still allowed to publish one press release per day, which is quite a lot compared to some other services and could offer a boost to your promotional and SEO activities. The press release categories are endless on this page and leaves no industry untouched.

This is for travel and leisure-related businesses. They will send your news to Google and attach it to RSS feeds and social media for free. The releases are never deleted, unlike a lot of other free providers. Your press release will stay your press release, no third-party ads will appear on it.

15

NewsWire Today

The free service is limited to only non-profits. While NewsWireToday does not offer instant approval, they claim "same day" approval and that they guarantee your listing. They charge between $199 and $399 per press release if you do pay. For the "free basic submission" service, there may be a longer wait.

16

EPR

There are no limits to how much text, pictures, and web links can be included in a press release. Including free ones! This is quite a rarity. Press releases are distributed free of charge to EPR sites and search engines by the company. The EPR network is one of the largest press release distribution networks.

17

ClickPress

ClickPress is a free press site, but this is only for charitable organizations and "corporate social responsibility news." The good news is that any number can be released as it is unlimited. Great if you want to do some good in the world. Other press release distribution is subject to fees, however.

Offering both free and paid options, the free option provides a one-a-day allowance (quite impressive compared to others). Several standard features, such as writing press releases, a reporting function, and the option for revisions, are unavailable. Your press release will still get syndicated to a broad selection of industry-categorized RSS feeds and media networks. All users benefit from no joining fee.

19

Express Press Release

Express Press Release is a free press release distribution website that offers the distribution of your release to the media via its network and on the site itself. You’ll be on your own when you write the release, though, as they offer no writing services. For that, you’ll need to upgrade. Again, distribution is not definite; if it is, no time for doing so can be guaranteed. Be sure to read their sending criteria and guidelines. There are strict requirements.

20

PR Sync

You can post your press release with PR Sync, a free website that distributes press releases. They specialize in healthcare, consumer goods, entertainment and media, and financial services but can assist in other areas too. Registration is easy and, of course, totally free. However, one thing to note with this company is that they can edit your press release before they send it. They also don’t guarantee they will send it to third parties, as this is at their discretion.

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Why you should consider manual PR outreach

Automated press release submission sites can save time and effort but should not be seen as a substitute for actual PR outreach for startups. With little budget, you should focus on building relationships with a handful of journalists and publications relevant to your field and leveraging these over time.

The most productive relationships in life take time, and here is no exception. You will get better results and build valuable relationships this way. You can also get your press releases written by professionals. At PRLab, we will write, send and promote press releases for you, distribute them to those most applicable to your industry, and follow up.

May 8, 2023
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