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Press Releases for Link Development

Is it a good strategy?



3:47 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have just been looking at a popular PR service to submit my press release with a hope that I can get some nice links to a site. I understand that editors may link to my site from news items. These sites do not take html, just plain text, so am I correct in thinking I just add the URL to the contact information and mention it in a paragraph of copy?

Is this a sensible tactic for gaining good links or am I better off using my time in some other way? Will I acheive a better result paying for the service? (they have from free to hundreds of dollars).


3:58 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have a lot of experience with this.

Editors will hardly every use your press release verbatim. And most will only use 5 to 25 percent of your material, much of it rewritten.

It's a crap shoot whether or not they will link to your site or not. And I seriously doubt they will use anchor text.


4:02 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for your quick reply :)

Do you think it is worth doing or better spend my time (and money?) doing something else?


5:42 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you really have unique content, you can use the news to get incoming links. Both from editors that write about your site (can you imagine an article about your site without mentioning your site?) and from surfers that see that news and link to your site from their site.


5:43 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I have my doubts about the efficiency of PR services, especially for generating backlinks. That is why I have not used them.

If you are thinking strictly in terms of ROI, then $35 can get you submitted into three web directories plus change left over to buy a sandwich. Three links = ROI.

Are Press Release Services a Waste of Money?
There is less certainty of a backlink when spending that $ on a PR service. I'm interested to know from anyone at WebmasterWorld who has had a positive experience submitting press releases to these services and generating a backlink. How about a temporary boost in traffic?

I have had some success, however, identifying the writers for columns dedicated to specific interest areas then writing them directly. This way, instead of your press release sitting over at the PR Service waiting to be found, you deliver the message straight to the scribe- which is where you want it to be.

I have had my url published in newspapers on the several occasions I tried this, both offline and online. Because of syndication, one writers piece can be published in multiple outlets simultaneously. But many (but not all) news outlets archive their news and the backlink disappears.

My advice is to identify those writers whose columns are appropriate for your information, then write to them directly. They're generally pretty friendly and accessible.


5:50 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

In my experience, you may get a couple small links out of the deal, but they normally don't justify the time or cost involved in writing a release solely for the link pop value alone.

This is not to say I don't think Press Releases are not a good thing, only that you would probably hear this topic discussed quite a bit more if it were actually working to improve link pop and rankings. I have seen some value in the traffic boosts resulting from a press release.

If you are only concerned with boosting your links, spend the time writing something that is informational and has optimized copy. You will more likely get links to that if it is something others can use. Aside from that you are probably spending your time better just searching for decent value directories or sites that will offer sale or trade of links.

In the releases I have done, there was a link back to the site the release referred to, but it is normally just the name of the site (www.mysitehere.com) with no anchor text. The releases are also somewhat buried in the overall information architecture of the site. They may be on a top level page for a short amount of time, but probably not long enough to get indexed there(unless you are quite lucky).

Perhaps I am missing some of the services available, but the only PR services that I have seen offering optimized link text were a bit pricy, and the money could probably be better spent else where.

Can anyone share any non-specific details (great oxymoron huh?) of positive experiences they've had with press releases for link dev?

<added>Speaking of simultaneously...was writing this at the same time MB</added>


6:51 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've had over 100 articles published in newspapers and commented in many more. I'm doing radio moreso these days as I'm invited as a comentator fairly often now (I'm a Social Worker).

I've never used Press Release services as I write my own and go straight to the journo/s myself.

The best links are from releases that actually turn into news articles.

Here are some tips:

Write your own release (plenty of how to guides online).

Link to a new page on your site with '(Your Topic) Media Spokesperson.' Providing a 'backgrounder' or bio of you and your contact info.

Find the right journalist to send it to (they usually specalise - just read their site).

Call them and confirm they recieved the release, but expect them not to have read it and ask questions.

Stick to three key messages.

#1 Rule: You will get what you want from a journo if you make their job easier.

Ask the journo to refer to the website. If it gets published, email the journo and ask them to get the webmaster to add the link to your site if it was not included (you would be suprised this does work)[I've been coppied in on a couple of these emails and can now email the webmaster directly]. Typically you will only get the full url, not link text.

Develop relationships - I let them know every time they only get one chance with me. My news isn't the most sought after, but if they burn me I'll go to their compeditor in the same office or in the next publication. A good relationship will spurn lots of articles later on and plenty of link text.

Become an industry navigator - tell them to call you on anything to do with 'x' and let thm know you will recomend the most suitable commentator in the industry and they will usually ask your opinion in the process and to explain the issue. I'm shocked at some of the names I've commented next to!

Watch for archives - the good news is the big newspapers which are harder to get into archive off the story from their site sooner, usually smaller papers leave content online for ages (target them).

Lastly, be very careful what you write or how you comment. You would be suprised how easy it is to have print, radio, and TV ringing your phone off the hook in a frenzy (for days) if you make a criticizm they believe their readers are interested in hearing.

You think some webmasters are starved for content - journos are content junkies... give them what they want (good quality) and you'll get your links and they will come back for more.

If you are going to get into this cycle, learn about the media cycle.. when their deadlines are and the relationship between tv / radio and print. e.g. see a story on TV or hear it on the radio - see an opportunity then write a release for the print and send it off asap. This works really well (refer to the original story).


8:11 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I was a newspaper reporter/feature editor for over 4 years/1,000+ articles. You might want to check out what I wrote on the matter in a related thread.


Unless you are a really good writer and/or have an extremely hot news item (and that is not as often as the press release writer would like to think) - you may not get what you want out of this. But for $40 at PRweb - it might be worth it.

These days, I recommend writing a "blurb" press release. 100 words or less. Stick to the who, what, when, where, why, how - and then stop writing. Shut up. Don't be foolishly tempted to write more, you'll just make it worse. = Very basic stuff without the hyperbole. If a journalist reads "..the global leader.." They'll chuck your release into the trash can along with the other 2 dozen they got that day.

I wrote more about the blurb release in the link to the thread above.

Check it out. Hope it helps.


8:59 pm on Sep 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Freedom, thanks for your kind comments.

For anyone who is thinking of giving it a go, try a small local papers first and include statistics if relevant. You will be suprised what you can get published if it is informative not just promo junk as Freedom said.

Something else I find works well is to list a few 'suggested comentators' (other people to contact for further comment) at the bottom of the release (makes the journo's job easier) - most of the time you get the lead comments and most of the article with a few industry leaders commenting on the bottom of your article.


5:50 am on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How about a temporary boost in traffic?

I definately saw an increase in traffic from a news release about a new free informational eBook I offer, along with some little-known figures about business owners. It was released in early September.

To date, I've only found two mentions of the release across the web. One was in a forum in competition with WW and one in a personal blog. It was kinda neat to see people talking about what you put out there, and using it as an authoritative source for information.

As far as long term benefit, I'd say it's little to none. I've not received any calls from reporters. As MB said, it's better to take a proactive approach to your news release by seeking out those niche editors who write about your industry for optimal exposure.


8:58 am on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My suggestion of adding a 'topic media spokesperson' page works well if you can't rank #1 for your terms.

Someone from the BBC just phoned me in Australia chasing someone here - because I was easy to google and the person they need to contact wasn't.

I'll get nothing out of this but it just goes to show, if you make yourself easy to find for the media on your topic they will call you!


10:09 am on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Dominic_X has some good advice. I share his thoughts but it's a bit rare to get a media frenzy going on a website though.

I was able to get a number of top papers that gave me great sound bite quotes I could use about my search engine. But I accomplished this with tons of work hunting down relevant reporters at the major publications and emailing them with press releases and story suggestions. Weeks of work at 8-12 hours a day.

It paid off though with the Washington Post review as well as some other major newspapers and trade publications. I am now using those "sound bite" quotes on my website and it's great Public Relations.


10:22 am on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Looks like I should stick to hawking my articles, this pr stuff looks like too much hard work ;)

Thanks everyone, great stuff.

removed a word that was deemed offensive for some reason


12:31 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I pay a PR firm $1000 per month and they get me some good coverage.


1:02 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What business are you in where it leads you to pay $1,000 a month for Public Relations?


1:17 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

(can you imagine an article about your site without mentioning your site?)

Yes, most sites that have quoted my articles have used "one source said", "My Company has this to say", "My Name wrote this" or even "world famous UK Marketing Guru internetheaven stated" ...

... okay, so I made the last one up - but you get the picture. Of course, the majority of my articles that get quoted or included in newsletters are the ones on legal issues so I'm not sure if this is the norm for most industries.


1:20 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi All,

I take issue with those who say it's not worth releasing Press Releases for the link development factor.

I belong to a few 'flat fee' newswires that give you unlimited releases per year, and I also use the normal ones that charge $80 a pop, and so on.

I've found that a single release across many newswires can give you 5-25 permanent PR1+ backlinks: not huge, but then, not bad either... especially considering the links are from topic-relevant pages (i.e., your press release text should contain your site's keywords, it's "theme").

I always include the URL in the copy in the following format which counts as a backlink in many of the places the release gets syndicated (although some just display the URL as plain text):

blah blah at http://www.mysite.com . blah blah

Usually the site syndicating my release automatically converts the url in this format to a plain html hyperlink. Note that I put a space between the URL and the period- otherwise the URL will be 'http://www.mysites.com.' which in my case still goes to the homepage but is not the exact URL I'm promoting.

I often submit slightly differently-worded body text, summaries and titles to the different wires, thereby hopefully decreasing the chance that the pages carrying my press release will be considered duplicate content.

On a final note that may be helpful, I've noticed that getting a press release with your URL syndicated on Yahoo! News (through FeatureXpress or PRWeb) is a very fast way to get your site indexed by Yahoo for free, and permanently. Apologies for writing a book.

Cheers from a Domer in Shanghai!


1:25 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Watch for archives - the good news is the big newspapers which are harder to get into archive off the story from their site sooner, usually smaller papers leave content online for ages (target them).

Yep, dang them archives. Had very nice mentions in three major newspapers over the past year and a half -- two big nationals, one big local -- with links that are now hidden behind locked doors.


3:33 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am a niche software retailer - and due to the consumer nature of the software, it makes for some PR interest.

I think there has to be a 'fit' for PR to work


3:59 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Message to WebmastersWorld and Others Here - RE PR

It would be really great for a category for just this discussion... a place where the writers can get ideas from the members here on possible topics to write on. Or a forum that allows us to contact them about our potential stories.. maybe I am missing something and this is already here if so someone let me know by sending me a stikie.


[edited by: martinibuster at 8:08 pm (utc) on Sep. 29, 2004]
[edit reason] spelling [/edit]


4:05 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We've been fortunate to get some coverage on other sites without asking, but they have mostly used our actual URL as the anchor text. I guess they pass a dash of PR, but the opportunity for relevance is probably watered down.


2:31 am on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've been asked (via sticky mail) to clarify what I meant by 'Topic Media Spokesperson'

So here it is:

If you sell midgets and other widgets as a part of the widget selling sector... you want ot be a media spokesperson about widgets.

So a journalist will google 'widgets' and if they can't find what they are looking for may google 'widgets media spokesperson' looking for you / the industry leader...

So set up a page to rank #1 for 'widgets media spokesperson'

Pretty easy most of the time.

If a journalist finds this page easily, and it has a bio of you and your contact details... you are most likely to get a call.

Jarboe The Hutt

9:19 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We've been optimizing press releases for news search engines since March of 2003. Last week, one of my clients, Southwest Airlines, and I co-presented at The Summit for the Future of Measurement, a conference organized by Katie Paine, publisher of The Measurement Standard. Our case study was about using unique tracking links in more than a dozen press releases over the past eight months to generate over $1.5 million in airline ticket sales. In other words, the unique links only existed in the press releases. If someone read a story in The New York Times or Washington Post about one of our announcements, they couldn't click on the unique link, because the press rarely picks them up. We just tracked people who had read one of the news releases, clicked on the unique link in it, and went on to purchase a ticket at Southwest.com. The audience included academics, marketers for Fortune 100 companies, and vendors of various measurement services -- who are all working to find more effective ways to measure PR. So, including links in press releases can be a revenue generating tactic -- with the following qualifications. We found that when the "news" wasn't as compelling, we didn't generate the same kind of ticket sales. So, you need to optimize for more than the news search engines. You also have to write for the users of news search engines. Over 27 million people use news search engines a month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. It is these human beings, after all, who conduct news searches, decide if they will click through a headline and snippet of copy to read the full press release, and then decide while reading the release if they will click on a link to visit your site to get more information, sign up for a newsletter, fill in a form, or order online. So, don't use press releases as a cheap link building tactic -- use it to harvest real interest in real news. Another thing we learned was to link to related or relevant content. When the link went to the home page, a lower percentage of people went on to make a purchase. When the link went to a page about the special fares or new services being announced, then we got a much higher conversion ratio. This sounds pretty obvious, but many PR people still haven't learned the basics of building targeted landing pages. Last but not least, we did some experimentation with different price levels. Yes, PR Web can get your press release crawled by Google News for as little as a $30 contribution. You will also get your press releases crawled by Yahoo News for an $80 contribution to PR Web. But, if you want your news release to be crawled by more than half a dozen news search engines -- as well as ranked high in PR Web's daily RSS feeds -- as well as ranked high in the opt-in emails sent to about 100,000 journalists, analysts, and free-lancers -- as well as ranked high on the PR Web network of sites (which get more traffic than the other press release distribution services according to Alexa) -- then you might want to consider higher contribution levels. You might even look at the combination rates for both PR Web and PR Newswire -- to get the broadest coverage. We've discovered that you get what you pay for. In other words, the higher contribution levels offer greater results. Of course, your milage may vary, so the prudent marketer will test several levels to see what works best for their product or company. One last thing we've learned: This is NOT a cheap link building program. You can get less expensive links from a variety of other sources. However, it is an incrementally inexpensive way to build links while also distributing your press release. The win-win here is killing two birds with one stone. If you are just looking for cheap alternatives to link farms, this isn't it. But, generating over $1.5 million in ticket sales for about $10,000 in news release optimization and distribution costs gives this tactic an ROI that most companies would kill for.


11:00 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Huge post, very well written, I can tell ya wanted to advise us all and thank you for that great post, bigtime!

Southwest must be happy, it is too bad Delta Airlines has not taken advantage of the facts/ideas you mention, we can do this same thing for them. (We rank top 10 on Google/Yahoo for the SEO biggie terms)

My pops is a just retired 30 year Captain and many of these captains will loose all their benefits soon. I would be upset after a 30 year position to get pinked myself... for my pension.

Companies on thin ice such as the airlines should really look into this, smart move for Southwest, I must say. I wish the others understood.

Great post!


Jarboe The Hutt

3:46 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks, Hollywood. Actually, Southwest deserves most of the credit. We've been pitching this approach for more than a year and a half -- and we've found many smaller companies are willing to take the risk of testing a new idea, but only a handful of larger companies. But Southwest has a unique corporate culture. For example, they okayed the A&E cable TV channel doing a reality series called "Airline" which shows real Southwest employees dealing with real customers who "all have their baggage." Talk about a gutsy move. And they were equally gutsy to test our approach to news search engine promotion. Then, they were even more gutsy to share the initial results at the Internet Planet conference in New York in June and the latest results at the Measurement Summit conference in New Hampshire in September. I'll be giving an update of what we've learned this year from Southwest and other clients at the WebmasterWorld conference in Las Vegas in November (http://www.webmasterworld.com/conference/) -- on Day 2 (News Search) and some different findings on Day 3 (Public Relations and Your Site). We think search engine marketers should be adding search engine promotion to their services -- along with search engine optimization and search engine advertising. Southwest Airlines has demonstrated the benefits of this -- but lots of other companies and organizations can benefit from following their lead.


3:50 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I tried PR Web and PR Leap.

Our release was pretty on topic and well written.. also was news release/story worthy.

What I have learned...


- On PR Web I was getting about 30-40 clicks per minute
- Click above not going to my website only reported by their reporting tool
- I was position 4 on release date (Of entire new releases page, AKA: homepage of PR WEB)
- After 3 Days 31,590 Views so the site says (Views reported by their tool, not my website)
- Not one phone call from this
- About 30 hits to web site - if that from one website that picked up story - no biggie
- "Estimated Pickup -- > 207 < -- This number estimates the number of times your press release was picked up by a media outlet. This does not tell you how many times your story appears in the media. It simply attempts to estimate media interest of your release."


- On PR Leap 132 Views so far
- 1 Search Engine robot only
- hardly a hit if any to website


Opinion: Not worth the time, not worth the upgrades; at least so far I think this has been a no gainer.

I do know that there are other PR sources, (The big names) this test comes next. Big names such as Business Wire and Reuters Etc.

Happy hunting!



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