We get asked regularly about the success of using PR upload platforms that distribute press releases and display product images to journalists, such as press loft and homes 4 media. If you have read our previous Small and Mighty Co. posts, you’ll know that PR is all about building relationships. PR distribution platforms are viewed as a way to update the press on new products from your brand but are mainly beneficial for large companies with a product range of thousands to potentially secure some easy press for their brand. Small businesses may see PR distribution sites as an affordable and accessible way to attempt to gain press coverage for their brand. However, from our experience, building relationships with the press even as a small brand is the most effective way to secure coverage and lead to further coverage in the future.
We have compared building press relationships with PR distribution sites to show why building relationships with the press will be so beneficial for your brand’s PR.
From our experience working with brands, editors tend to discover products through their inbox as opposed to distribution sites. Editors jobs are made easier by brands and PR agencies emailing them pitches with keywords included so when editors search for ‘bright yellow scarf’ in their inbox they will have a variety of product suggestions already sent to them. Going through emails is a more time effective method for journalists to find products as opposed to sorting through a press distribution website. Typically, journalists will only use PR distribution platforms as a last resort to find the best products for their feature.
Pitching certain products to journalists over email as opposed to sending out a general press release makes the editor’s job simple as they have specific products to choose from and can see your reasoning for suggesting them. This can help build your relationship with the press and they may come back to your brand in the future. Product placement features such as shopping pages are a keyspace for small brands to receive coverage. Benefits of featuring in shopping pages can include an increase in brand awareness and an increase in sales. One of your products is much more likely to be featured if you have pitched a specific product for a specific feature as editors will appreciate the research you have put in. A general press release on a distribution site is not as memorable and often not precise enough for editors to instantly place your product in a certain feature.
Using a PR distribution platform is impersonal and doesn’t give much personality to your brand. Often what makes a brand memorable is knowing more about its founder and brand history, which can be done through emailing the press and including some information about your brand. Pitching your brand to more specific profile features is something which will be most successful over email, where editors can really get a sense of what you and your brand is really like.
Understanding press etiquette can be equally important in creating a long-lasting, positive impression of your brand for editors and this can only be done through emailing the press and building relationships with them. At PR Dispatch we really see the importance of good press etiquette and how it can lead to successful editor relationships and potential press coverage.
Knowing when you have gained coverage is often difficult and it’s often hard for us to track it, too. However, you might have a better understanding of what coverage you have and when, if you have spoken to editors over email. On some distribution platforms, you may be able to see who has downloaded your press release or product images, but this doesn’t mean guaranteed press. Equally, journalists may work across multiple publications so this will mean you will have to check all the publications they write for to see if you have gained coverage. If you have emailed editors, you will have a better idea what coverage you are expecting based upon editors replies to you.
Many brands want to be featured in certain publications as they feel their audience is the most relevant for their brand. Whilst press distribution sites give you access to a wide range of journalists, you have little control over who decides to feature your product. This means whilst you may get coverage, it may not generate sales if the readership is not your target audience. Brands may not wish to be featured in tabloid newspapers due to worries that it may affect their reputation, but by using PR distribution sites you are risking your brand being featured in those publications. On top of not being able to control who features your brand, you may not have a say in how the product is featured. If you have built a relationship with an editor, you will have more confidence in whether the product will be featured in a positive way.
Building relationships with journalists through email can lead to future coverage for your brand. We know that if your pitches show that you have done your research on the editor, they are more likely to respect you and your brand and will remember you in the future. Whilst they may not be able to feature your product immediately, they may well keep your brand in mind when sourcing products for features in the future. Using PR distribution platforms eliminates the opportunity to build a relationship with editors and can only be used in the hopes of securing instant coverage as opposed to future press.
For big brands such as Apple and Disney, PR distribution platforms are an effective way to make important announcements to the press in one go and relevant journalists can pick the story up, as often there are specific journalists who will focus just on brands with a large amount of influence. For small businesses, it is much more authentic and beneficial to build genuine valued relationships with press contacts in order to gain more press coverage.
PR distribution platforms may have their benefits as a simple and easier way to send out your press releases and images to journalists, but it will not be the most effective method to secure relevance, as well as repeat press coverage for your brand. Small businesses often get lost within these platforms and it can make your brand less interesting for journalists. Building relationships with journalists through targeted emails and pitches will make your brand memorable and will provide long term benefits for your brand’s PR instead of just a quick fix. Emailing the press can seem overwhelming, but we think it can be incredibly easy for small brands to get started on building press relationships. With email being the most up to date method journalists use to find products to feature, it is worth pitching your products in this way.
Ready to take your brand to the next level? The awareness and credibility from PR is one very important part of building a brand. Join hundreds of independent brands who are not only pitching their products to press but have access to our support, knowledge and recommended suppliers every step of the way through our memberships. Find out more here.
Rosie is the founder of PR Dispatch, the first PR member’s platform dedicated to supporting independent brands to pitch their products to print and online publications. Rosie created PR Dispatch wanting to give brands with great products that couldn’t justify thousands with a PR agency a chance to be featured by the press. PR Dispatch gives members press contacts, workshops, a community of like-minded brands and support from PR experts for just £59 p/m.