How do you use a PR Newswire alternative for better media coverage? Read our simple guide below.
Table of contents:
- What is a PR Newswire
- The Benefits of using a PR Newswire Alternative
- How to use MediaHQ as a PR Newswire Alternative
- PR Newswire Alternative Checklist
What is a PR Newswire?
A PR Newswire is a system used to distribute press releases to editorial offices, journalists and people in the media who work in print, industrial and digital media, as well as newsrooms of publications. Formerly, newswires operated through a satellite or fax service. Today they operate as technical distribution networks, where the sender uploads their press release to a newswire system which can be accessed by editorial newsrooms and journalists.
There are two common types of newswire in the modern-day. There are news agencies like the Associated Press which hires journalists to write articles and distributes them via their newswire to subscribers who can directly publish this content. The other kind of newswire is a press release feed, which posts press releases from companies who have paid to use the service to which subscribing editorial rooms or journalists get access. A PR newswire is typically standardised and doesn’t leave much room for a personal connection with journalists on the receiving end. This takes away the unique working relationship between journalists and public relations specialists which can be a crucial part of the PR process and heavily influence rates of publication. They can also take away the personal element of pitching stories and leave you with less control over the coverage of your story. Without that personal connection, it can be difficult to work with journalists on adding quotes and answering questions about your story.
The good news is that there is an alternative to PR newswire services that combines the ease of sending releases and access to journalists with the personal element that is missing when using a PR newswire. A PR database gives users access to tens of thousands of contacts ranging from print journalists to online specialists, radio presenters, television producers and more. A PR database combines the features needed to create and send a press release under one roof. Like a PR newswire, they mitigate the need for messy spreadsheets of contacts that have to be manually updated every few weeks.
The Benefits of using a PR Newswire Alternative
Press release distribution software can be a time-saving and cost-effective alternative to a PR newswire. Although a PR newswire might cost less in the short term, having the ability to form media relations, create specific lists and pitch directly can all increase your ROI when using a PR database as an alternative. With a PR newswire, the process involves sending your press release out to the wire and hoping that it might pique the interest of a journalist or newsroom. As a PR, you have no control over who your press release goes out to. With a PR database, communications are targeted and measured. Lists can be built to target specific journalists and you have control of when they are sent and who they are sent to. This makes it easier to target journalists who already cover the topic of your campaign.
PR databases streamline your communications strategy, simplify creating and maintaining lists and sending press releases while guaranteeing a high deliverability rate. Press release distribution software will not act as a miracle solution to a bad PR strategy, but rather work to complement an already good communications team.
Press release distribution software provides contact details for all of the journalists, editors and correspondents in the country or region you are aiming to target. This improves the list-building process in many ways, including having searchable contacts separated by topic, allowing you to add contacts to a list in one click. A PR database also makes it easier to keep lists up to date as customers receive a notification when a contact from their list has been updated. This works in a similar way to a PR newswire, but despite sending press releases through a system, it will land in a journalists’ inbox addressed directly to them and allow them to reply directly. This increases the chance of building working relationships with journalists and allows you to provide more context or answer any questions about the story that they might have.
Building media relations is a key element of success in the PR world, and is one of the major benefits of using a PR database over a PR newswire. Without a strong network of journalists, your story is less likely to make the news. Here are some ways in which using a PR database can help you to build media relations:
Creating media lists – Building a media list takes away the pain of manual data entry and trying to circumnavigate the restrictions on sending multiple emails through certain mailing software. Building lists of journalists who may have an interest in your story or who generally cover the topic that your story encapsulates is a great way to tactically send press releases. Using press distribution software can be an excellent way of curating lists as it gives you access to journalists’ contact information and allows you to filter them by topic.
Understanding the industry and adapting – The media industry is ever-growing and movement within the industry is constant. Every day, journalists, editors and reporters change jobs, move within the industry or leave it all together and it is essential to monitor these movements as a PR professional. If you have built up a contact list, it is imperative that it is regularly updated as journalists can move to different sectors or companies and may no longer be a good fit for the specific list they were previously on.
Connecting with journalists – Use a contacts database to find journalists who cover the areas that you specialise in. Follow them on social media (Twitter or Linkedin) and reach out to them. Send them a pitch and offer to discuss the story further over the phone. Connect locally if possible – offer to set up a meeting, get to know each other and discuss the ways in which a working relationship would be mutually beneficial.
See how we automatically keep your media lists up-to-date with our list notifier feature here:
How to use MediaHQ as a PR Newswire alternative
Using a PR newswire can put a limit on the personal element of press release distribution and makes it difficult to personalise and offer answers to any questions a journalist may have. Media HQ makes it easier to be GDPR compliant, provides pre-curated lists and has a topics filter to easily search by contact type, has a press release distribution tool to facilitate personalised emails, notifies users when a contact on their list has been updated and provides one on one support and training.
Here are some ways to use MediaHQ effectively as a PR Newswire alternative:
Press release sending tools – MediaHQ has in-built tools which make it easier than ever to send press releases to your contact lists. You can directly type your press release or copy and paste it into the box, add a personalised introduction and include photographs and attachments. You can then select the list or lists of contacts that you want to send your press release to and it will be sent to their inbox with your email address as the sender. This makes it easy for them to contact you to further discuss your story.
Topic search – The topic search allows you to filter the search of journalists by the topic they cover, as well as searching by job title, audience location and media type. This makes it easy to quickly research and build a list of contacts that cover topics similar to that of your story.
List building – Using the search function to quickly build accurate lists makes it easy to widely distribute press releases to journalists who have a special interest in your topic. Rather than broadly sending out a press release, ensuring that your list of contacts have a general interest in your topic will increase your chances of making the news and avoiding opt-outs. MediaHQ also notifies users when a contact on one of their lists has been updated, making it easier to keep track of movements in the industry and keep lists up to date.
Tracking PR analytics – Tracking your PR analytics is a simple yet effective way to know which press releases have been successful and which have not. PR analytics allow you to monitor your press releases and campaigns and track their impact and success. This can help to inform your future campaigns and having access to top press release opens can pave the way for building stronger media relations.
See how MediaHQ works with our quick video below:
PR Newswire Alternative Checklist
Here are some important things to consider when looking for a PR Newswire alternative:
- Does it have a list-building function?
- Does it have a press release distribution tool?
- Does it allow you to personalise your press release and send it from your own email?
- Can you pitch directly to journalists?
- Does it have a search feature that allows you to filter by topic?
- Does it allow you to track your PR analytics?
If you are happy with your answer to these questions, you are ready to reap the benefits of a PR Newswire while ensuring that your press releases are personal and allow an opening to grow strong media relations.
Looking to send your own Press Releases? More than just a Press Release Distribution tool. MediaHQ helps you find journalists, build media lists, distribute press releases and analyse results. The Ultimate PR Tool for Press Teams. Book a Demo below.
More about Ciara Byrne
Ciara is a Research Executive at MediaHQ. Ciara has a degree in Media and English from DCU and has been working with MediaHQ since graduating in 2019.