Press release services have varying levels of credibility that can be difficult to differentiate to an untrained observer. Some services consist only of freelance writers offering press release writing, while others are dedicated companies that offer press release distribution in addition to writing, editing and customized media contact lists. But regardless of the type, the ultimate goal of a press release is to generate publicity. Therefore, learning how to determine the exact skills and credibility of a press release services company can make the difference between a news story that flies and one that flops. The following are 4 ways to check out a PR company:
1.) Check the News
A company or individual that is dedicated to news release services is likely to have used their own methods to generate publicity for their company. Additionally, their services may be branded. Therefore it stands to reason that if you type a search term related to the company into a news search engine like Google News, you should be able to find some results to confirm this. Google News allows you to search archives from 1990 on, which will be useful when researching companies that are more established and might not need to advertise their services or develop publicity any longer.
Not finding any results in a news search engine doesn't necessarily mean that the company or individual is an amateur, but it does mean that follow-up research should be conducted.
2.) Investigate the Website
Online press release services may use a variety of marketing tactics, but the primary objective is generally to drive traffic to a website in order to generate a sale or a lead. This means that you can get a lot of information about the company by checking out its website.
*Use WHOIS to find out who the website is registered to, who manages it and their related contact information, how old the registration is and when it expires and other useful information.
*Use a simple plugin like SEO for Chrome or a software program like Market Samurai to check the PR or authority level of the site, backlinks, indexed pages, directory inclusions, etc. The more well-established a site is, the better - but this doesn't mean you should discount new services that have demonstrable experience or education.
*Read the content on the website. A press release writing company has only one chance to showcase their writing ability - their web content. If the content of the site doesn't "wow" you, then why would readers be "wowed" by a news story created by the same writers?
3.) Check Press Release Distribution Strategies
Automated software programs make it easy for anyone to submit articles or press releases. These programs work by allowing a user to copy and paste a press release into an engine that then submits it to a list of press release websites or media outlets. Despite the fact that this is not an appropriate way to submit a news release, many services do this for their clients.
But remember: your press release distribution strategy should only target editors and publications that have a specific interest in your company or the news you're submitting. If you pay for a story to indiscriminately go out to a huge list of publishers, the vast majority of editors on that list are going to receive PR inclusion requests from unrelated sources. This is called Spam. Don't do it if you wish to maintain your credibility, and don't work with companies that aren't concerned about theirs.
4.) Investigate the Company
Traditional methods of checking out a press release services company include searching the internet for reviews, complaints and testimonials, checking the Better Business Bureau, reviewing case studies or research and investigating the differences between competitors.
Finally, don't forget that "you get what you pay for." If the quote you're getting for press release writing and/or distribution services seems too good to be true, it probably is.