Episode 47

Published on:

15th Feb 2023

"Newswire Press Releases: Are They Worth It?" with Scott Covelli

Have you ever wanted to send out a press release and thought, "Hey, there are distribution services that can push this out to all the news outlets. I could be on CNN! I could be in the New York Times! I could be EVERYWHERERERERE!!!"

Before you go wasting your money on a wire service distribution, let's talk about what newswire releases are and whether or not they're worth it.

On today's episode, I'm joined by EPIC Creative's Content Director and Head of PR, Scott Covelli.

What is a Newswire?

A newswire is a tool you can use to distribute press releases to media outlets and journalists. These distributions come with a fee that is usually determined by the size of the audience, number of images or logos accompanying your release, and often by word count. Wires are typically used to send news to large audiences of journalists—though they often are themed by industry (e.g., automotive, oil & gas, food & beverage, etc.) and geography.

What Does a Newswire Release look like?

If you're sending a newswire release, it should be written in a standard press release format. This will ensure it's easy for journalists and news outlets to quickly assess whether the information you're sending them is relevant to their audience. The release typically includes a headline, a dateline, a lead paragraph, the body of the release, and media contact information. On Episode 6 of GMP, I walk you through the standard format of a press release.

As with any press release, the information included in the release should be newsworthy and not just an ad written in a press release format.

What Are the Benefits of a Newswire Distribution?

The biggest benefit of a newswire service is the wide reach it can provide. Newswire services have established relationships with a variety of media outlets, making it likely that your release will be picked up and published by multiple sources. This can help to increase the visibility of your news, and can also give you the appearance of credibility by landing placements on multiple sites.

What Are the Limitations of Newswire Distributions

Newswire releases certainly have their limitations. Since they are sent out to such wide audiences, it can be difficult to ensure that your release is targeting the right news organizations.

Distributions are "pay-to-play." Your news will most likely get picked up, possibly on hundreds of sites, but it will generally be a straight copy/paste of your press release. The placement of these releases, however, is usually in the utter depths of hell of a news site. Even if you are getting picked up on MSNBC or the NYT, it's almost always in a place that is not ever going to be seen by a human. Also, the links in your release will likely be given the rel="nofollow" HTML tag, stripping you of the possible SEO benefits from the host site.

News releases sent via a wire service are also quite costly. Even the most basic services charging a few hundred dollars at a minimum. If your release includes additional elements such as images and your podcast's logo, the cost can easily exceed $1,000. It's important to keep in mind that the cost of the service does not guarantee that your release will be picked up by specific media outlets.

It may be worth exploring other cost-effective options for distributing your release, such as sending it directly to targeted media contacts or posting it on your podcast's website and social media channels.

However, if that $1,000 is burning a hole in your pocket, you could spend it on Facebook or Instagram ads and potentially reach even more people than you would with a newswire distribution.

Down to The Wire

Newswire-distributed press releases are popular for a reason—but that reason is mainly self-gratification. If you're going to use a service like this, make sure your news is legitimately newsworthy, and only use this tool sparingly. A newswire release cannot replace genuine relationships with journalists, which are key to meaningful and ongoing media coverage.


Fuzz Martin 0:00

Good Morning Podcasters! When you have important news to share with the world, you might be tempted to send a press release through a newswire service. But before you pull the trigger, take your finger off the Buy Now button and listen to this episode. Hello, my podcasting friend and welcome to Good Morning Podcasters.

Fuzz Martin 0:20

My name is Fuzz Martin and this show is all about marketing, advertising, PR and social media topics, and how they intertwine with the world of podcasting and content creation. I have a guest returning to the show today to talk about public relations. Welcome to the show EPIC Creative's Content Director and Head of the Public Relations department, Scott Covelli What's up, Scott?

Scott Covelli 0:42

Hey, Fuzz. Thanks for having me back. I must not have been a train wreck.

Fuzz Martin 0:46

No, it was not a train wreck. It was just okay. No, it was great.

Scott Covelli 0:51

It was good enough.

Fuzz Martin 0:52

I'm kidding. You are more than a warm body to me, Scott, you are an expert in your field. And I appreciate you and your knowledge that you bring to the show.

Scott Covelli 1:05

Well, I'm feeling the love, Fuzz, and we're recording this on Valentine's Day. So I can I appreciate the love.

Fuzz Martin 1:11

Yeah, thanks for the candies. By the way. I appreciate that. So, Scott a few months ago, a person that I respect in the podcasting industry had some big news to announce. And he came to me asking for help with a press release. So as a favor, I helped him craft the press release, I helped him develop a list of the people to whom he should be sending the release, and told them how to do it. So he sent the email to them. It worked, he got picked up in a number of those places. Not all the places because that's how sometimes PR works. But he got picked up. But then apparently that wasn't good enough, because I found out that he then went and spent about $450 sending this news out via a news wire service or a wire relay service. And my response to him was dude in capital letters with the interrobang, which is the exclamation point with the (love a good interrobang). Yeah. So I like the I like the standard like exclamation point. And then question mark, not the intertwined one.

Scott Covelli 2:14

But I wish they would do it like in the cartoons where you could like, and I guess you can just italicize it. Yeah, like in the cartoons where it goes above the other words, it's bigger. Oh, yeah. So it's like, it's got some character to it. Exactly. Yeah. So with it full Interrobang you were like, dude, like,

Fuzz Martin 2:29

Dude, why did you go and spend $450. And his response was look at all these places. I got picked up. And they were all garbage places, like a place way in the depths of CNNs. website somewhere that nobody will ever find it ever.

Scott Covelli 2:46

So did he? Did he ever look at the link that you know, it's like on Yahoo Finance or something? And the link is, is this Frankenstein's monster of the link that no one's ever going to find? Yes. And

Fuzz Martin 2:58

then if you go to View Source, and you see that all the links to his website have a nofollow on them. Because they weren't going to just give up that SEO juice for free. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, we're getting ahead of ourselves. We are we are getting way ahead of ourselves. So I bet we've seen this before with our clients here at Epic. Before we go too far. Could you please explain to the good listeners of Good Morning Podcasters? What the difference is between a press release and a wire release?

Scott Covelli 3:27

Yes. So the wire or a news wire is a service kind of like it's kind of like a news feed a Twitter timeline, if you will, of news stories of press releases that have been put out on the wire, I'm using air quotes, but you'll hear that your listeners will probably have heard that before. And all that is, is it's a place where news publications, websites, subscribe to wires, and then they have people. So if people that go and just comb through the wire to find things to pull off and to put on their website or in their magazine, newspaper, sure. But some of them now are just kind of algorithms that grab stuff. And that's part of the problem is it's kind of bots that are just grabbing stuff off the wire willy nilly and throwing it on the back end of their site's SEO or for you know, just for content. Yeah, exactly. Just to get content out there. But to simplify it, it's a news feed that you pay to put your press release out on. You know, it's on a we'll call it like a Twitter timeline, right? Yep. And then publications who subscribe to that wire, see it, pull it off, and then publish it usually almost always verbatim. Correct. They just grab it, copy and paste onto their website, and then hit publish.

Fuzz Martin 4:45

Unless it's a really big news article. You know that if you're, I guess some examples would be if you are a publicly traded company, and you announced some earnings, it'll typically go out onto like a financial news wire. Right? And then if you're CNN Money, you might see that and go, that's so money. Now you might see that and say, Oh, this is big news, we're going to write an actual story about that. But

Scott Covelli 5:10

in most cases, that doesn't happen. Correct. If it's big news, and we're about to get to this, yeah, but if it's big news, a wire release, can can get it out to the people that will then see it and go like, Oh, this isn't just a press release that I'm going to copy and paste. This is a lead story. This is someone I need to call someone about this

Fuzz Martin 5:28

correct. Just to set the table for some of the listeners in terms of who you know which services these are, so you can kind of look out for them. It's like PR Newswire PR web, market, wire, wire, Business Wire. And then there are a number of, I'd say budget versions, which aren't really all that budget. In fact, they might even be worse for the distribution, but because you're

Scott Covelli 5:54

probably going to get less options as far as targeting. And people who subscribe to those wires to you might not get the placements that you're looking for.

Fuzz Martin 6:02

Exactly. So like 24/7, press release, I looked these up 24/7 press releases, one of them II releases is one I've seen before ein newswire, send it to press send, and then the number to press, PR underground and PR log. So those are just some of the other kind of news wire things. And all of them their business model is not great public relations work. Their business model is essentially you paying to play it is you paying the play, right? And hopefully, hopefully, somebody's going to see it.

Scott Covelli 6:39

Well, and therein lies the strategy. I might be jumping ahead. Yeah, but but I think the thing you have to ask yourself, when you're trying to determine where am I going to put this news out there is where do you want this to land? Who do you want to read this? What do you want, as far as placements go? If you're, for example, you're just trying to get ton of placements for, you know, let's send a report to an investor exactly right for investors or for you know, if you want to see 200 placements of this, then you know, and we've had clients who have said, hey, that's cool that you got two or three relevant, but like two or three relevant industry placements, but two or three doesn't make me excited two, or 300 makes me excited,

Fuzz Martin 7:23

I want to be able to go to my boss and say, We got picked up by the New York Times. And that's, that's really what it comes down to. Right. And it's really just self gratification. And that point, before we go too deep into why not to do you have times besides that, and whenever you want to, you just need to pad your numbers. Do you have any other sort of instances where you can think sending a newswire release is actually beneficial, or would be beneficial to a podcaster.

Scott Covelli 7:52

So I think if it's a wide audience, if it's a national audience, if it's big news, anchor wire release is great. It gets more traction, it gets, you know, we've sent wire releases for our clients where they get phone calls from editors and say, Hey, I saw your stuff come through the wire. So it isn't just empty calories, right? It isn't just junk food. It does work. But I think it has to be something that fits either big enough news or wide enough news where you don't mind it just kind of going everywhere. And you think that the general public would appreciate it, then I think it's it's fine. And of course, if you have budget for it, if you know if you think that that's worth your money to just kind of get the word out. It's just you have to take a little bit of those kind of gaudy numbers with a grain of salt. Yeah, when you see 250 placements and, and 200 million impressions and right, you know, again, as we talked about at the beginning, some of that stuff is buried on like a radio station website in New Zealand, yes. And no one's going to go to that. But it does show up in Google Search, you know, again, there's some value there. But you have to take it with a grain of salt on where you want to go who you want to see it.

Fuzz Martin 9:10

An example of a time where that might work is let's say you have a true crime podcast. And you happen to have an exclusive interview with a, you know, a witness from the Utah murders or something like something topical and newsworthy. Yes, that could actually, like go out on a broad base to news stations throughout the US or the world wherever that you know, wherever your location may be, or the pertinent location for that. And that's really important when you're sending a news wire releases. You have to select where it's going to and your price varies by location and number of people are gonna get it but if you're sending that out if you have a truly big thing, Scott cavelli interviews, John Doe about the Utah murders on Wednesday's episode of I don't know Scott's murder Podcast Scott's murder podcast. We need to workshop the name of that podcast for you. We'll do that some other times.

Scott Covelli:

Right? They're not my murders. Let's be very clear the Scots murders.

Fuzz Martin:

Scott murders podcasts.

Scott Covelli:

Yeah, Scott. There's no more podcasts.

Fuzz Martin:

Again, it has to be newsworthy. It has to be big. It can't be Scott murders podcast has, you know, releases its 50th episode. That's not going to get picked up places. It'll get picked up. Right. But it won't be picked up.

Scott Covelli:

Yeah, that's, that also comes back to the million dollar question of is what I'm trying to put out there newsworthy because so many times our clients come to us. And we kind of have to coach them into saying like, Okay, where's the hook? What's the thing because we all have rose colored glasses on about our own stuff, right? And when in sometimes what we think is big news, may not be as big news, I'm trying to be diplomatic,

Fuzz Martin:

what you're trying to say is what might what you might think is news might just be content for an ad,

Scott Covelli:

sure, or something, you know, for you to post on social media or on your, you know, on your podcast site or to your followers. And that's, that's where it comes down to the other thing is, okay, why not do a wide release, because it's way more effective most times, to do outreach to publications on a one to one basis and a personal reach out to a publication that you really want to get in. If you're, if you're a niche podcast, and you're up, let's say your podcast about the food and beverage industry. Sure. There are publications and blogs and stuff in food and beverage like it's going to benefit you way more long term, short term and long term to reach out to those journalists specifically and say, Hey, I have this, this podcast about mixology. Yeah, and, and so there's a let's say, there's mixology, magazines and blogs, and things. Hey, can you check out my podcast, I'd love for you to cover it, we're doing this, we have this special interview that we're doing, or this event we're doing, that's gonna benefit you to create those relationships long term, way more than it becomes a relationship, rather than you just throwing stuff out into the ether.

Fuzz Martin:

Right and hoping that when they see it come through and the things that they can publish on the back end of their website that they're checking a box, right? Yeah. So I would say it's not earned media. If you're sending via newswire, it's like, it's kind of like the gray area of earned media. Sure, you're paying to put it in front of them. And they're choosing whether to take it. So it's kind of earned because they they might pass it over. But really, it's kind of a a broadcast way of advertising, you'd likely be better off spending the money. And we'll talk about pricing here in a moment. But you'd probably be better off spending some of that money promoting your news on social media or something like that. You might get more beneficial impressions from that than sending it out on an on a news release.

Scott Covelli:

I'd say in general. That's true. Yeah, yeah. And then I

Fuzz Martin:

touched on this earlier. But one of the other downfalls of this is a lot of times on a lot of sites. They put robots nofollow on the links or rel no nofollow, however, that's done in the code, so that you're not stealing their, you know, stealing SEO juice from them by by buying a wire release.

Scott Covelli:

And also speaking of SEO, a lot of times, when you put out a newswire release, you're thinking, Oh, I get to and replacements does that mean when I google my headline of my of my press release that I sent out on the wire that there's going to come up with 200 search results? No, a lot of times and so on PR Newswire we use that all just gets kind of compressed into just the PR Newswire story on PR newswire.com Yes, exactly. It doesn't show 200 placements in Google, it kind of gets squashed. Yeah, it might

Fuzz Martin:

say many results like this. And you have to click a link and nobody's doing that. So in some cases, that news depending on how new you are, and things like that, that newswire release might show up above your own website. If you have a podcast, in which case, now you're competing with other things against yourself. Exactly. So what are your newswire releases typically cost?

Scott Covelli:

So for us, I know you gave the example of about $450. So there's some things that depends on oftentimes depends on the word count how long the release is, if you include an image or a logo in it or not. There's some other kind of targeting things you can do on PR Newswire that we use. You can target sometimes based on different industries, which I would recommend doing if you're going to do it. Yeah. Automotive food and beverage health and kind of the bigger. Yeah. And so all those factoring, it's a very, it's an ala carte thing. When you buy a release, you know, you add truffle fries, and it's an extra $2. Right. So, but I would say when we normally send out a wire release, it's between 1200 to $2,000. When we do it for our clients, I know they're like you said there are some budget options that might be more in the in the three digits. Yes, exactly.

Fuzz Martin:

Exactly. It's kind of like Spirit Airlines, where it's like, oh, I'm going to get this wire release for $60. Well, you only get 100 words

Scott Covelli:

or, and no image, yes and no targeting. Right,

Fuzz Martin:

exactly. And so when you go and on the budget places, when you put that in, it's still probably only going to be three digit number, but it is going to be a high three digits, and you're not going to be getting any real results from that. Another example, and I don't know if it's on PR, web or PR Newswire, I think it might be all of them. When you buy an image, so you have to pay for your logo, you have to pay to have your photo in there as well. And then you have to look out because sometimes written in their contract, they will charge you every year to keep that image hosted. And so you forget about it on Sunday, you get a $400 charge on your credit card because of a image somewhere on the back end of a website that nobody has seen in 11 and a half months.

Scott Covelli:

So then if you're listening to this, and you're hearing this ala carte menu, and I have to pay an extra $300 To get an image in my press release that sounds like a racket, it sometimes is Yeah, so that's something you just need to be really careful about. And I would say, as an overarching recommendation, just do your homework, really think about your strategy. Who do you want this to go to. And I would argue in most cases, reaching out to five to 10, journalists in your industry, blogs or whoever that are just going to actually have a connection with you and tell your story. Five or 10 of those is way more worth your time, then 50 to 100 placements, that people are never going to make that connection from seeing it online to going to your podcast, downloading it to listening, it's just very rarely going to have the conversion that you think it will. Yep, definitely.

Fuzz Martin:

And also, if you do decide to do a wire release, before you go putting, you know, as seen on New York Times or anything like that, make sure you read the terms and service. Because that to you may be in a violation there. You don't want to get yourself pinched by New York Times lawyers, because they have more money than you do likely last pitch here, podcasts or comes to you and says, Scott, I want to I want to put this news on a wire release, what would you say to them? Yeah,

Scott Covelli:

I would say where? Where do you want to see this? If they say, Well, I want to see this on the New York Times, I want to see this on, you know, my favorite TV show or you know, they kind of, you know, thinking pie in the sky. There are ways where you can go online, and you can find the email address to the assignment editor at the New York Times, right. And if your story is big enough, where you think that the New York Times is going to cover it, I say just pick up the phone and call them. Yeah, you know, I would say it's, the human connection doesn't just benefit you in picking up the phone or sending an email or whatever. And, you know, sometimes you're not going to get the big fish. You know, you're just not sometimes you have to be realistic. But that connection, I can't stress enough, will not just help you with this announcement that you're doing today. But you're gonna get to know that editor, or you're gonna get to know that blogger, and the next time tech, they might reach out to you and say, Hey, what's, you know, what do you have going on on your podcast? And then it becomes a two way street. Right? You know, someone asks me, I'm not going to say, Hey, don't do it under any circumstances. And that's not what this correct. You know, that's not what Bob and I are saying. But what, what I would say is proceed with caution, because I don't think you're gonna get the results that you're expecting, even though the numbers will look really nice.

Fuzz Martin:

Yeah. 100%. Well, Scott Covelli, Content Director at EPIC Creative. Thank you for coming in and joining me on Good Morning, Podcasters. Today, and I'll probably have you back again soon. Because your office is right down the right down the hallway hallway from me.

Scott Covelli:

Yes. It's really easy. And if you're searching for Scott's Murder Podcast, I'm sorry. It's not a real podcast. So but maybe not yet. Now.

Fuzz Martin:

It's a premeditated podcast.

Scott Covelli:

It's a Minority Report...premeditated,

Fuzz Martin:

Exactly. All right. Thanks again, Scott for joining me. I'm Good Morning. Podcasters. That'll do it for today's show. While you're here and listening already. Please do me a favor. And click the Follow button in your podcast player. You can find all the episodes at goodmorning pod.com New episodes every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. And with that, I'll talk to you tomorrow. Right here on Good Morning Podcasters

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About the Podcast

Good Morning Podcasters!
Marketing, Advertising, PR and Social Media Tips for Podcasters
Good Morning Podcasters explores marketing, advertising, public relations, and social media topics as they relate to podcasting and content creation. The show is hosted by Fuzz Martin—an agency owner and former broadcaster. The show is published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with regular bonus episodes of "Podcasting Sucks!" with co-host Jeff Townsend on Saturday mornings.

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Fuzz Martin

Fuzz Martin is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at EPIC Creative in West Bend, Wis.