60 free press release sites tested – a detailed review

Public Relations professionals know that one of the most important parts of the job is media relations, talking to journalists, editors and bloggers to understand what kinds of story would interest them – what’s the point in writing and issuing news if no-one covers it? However, instead of doing pre sell-ins to see if a release you are considering might be of interest, there is now a far easier way of getting your news out there…without ever having to lift the phone! Free PR distribution websites have been getting more and more popular in light of the current economic climate. But, which sites are a scam, which actually offer you the free PR distribution service you want to get your release online and which offer you even more, such as links and syndication to other sites?

For the SEO community, press releases have been used as a vehicle to help link building efforts, but do the free distribution services actually help build links?

We’ve done the leg work, spending a month researching and trialling 60 of the free PR distribution sites we found that were still active online, so you don’t have to.

Only three free press release sites got our stories onto Google News

Note, some of the sites didn’t make it past the first step of our test. We managed to submit press releases to 55 of the sites, because:

  • Five of the sites focused on content we couldn’t provide with our test releases (e.g. IT Backbones, IT Director, IT Analysis, BetaNews). Note this isn’t to say that they aren’t good press release distribution sites – in fact on the contrary, a clear editorial direction seems to be an indicator of a higher quality site
  • Others requested some kind of payment in order to ‘publish’ the press release
  • Others failed to load or gave some other error that prevented us from uploading the press release

Questions about free press release distribution services that we wanted answered

To determine whether these sites deserved our time and attention, we formulated these questions:

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