Free Press Release Websites Are Expensive

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This article was inspired by a potential customer wondering whether a service that charged $38 to blast his press release to 50 free press release websites was a good use of his money. When you charge someone $449 for a single press release, like we do, it’s hard to say $38 is a waste of money — even when you know it is. However, when you are sending his press release to subscribing journalists and posting over a true Tier-1 newswire (like we also do), $449 looks darn reasonable. Forget the fact that we offer 100 extra words, a free eNewsroom(TM), SEO enhancements, and WireWatch proof distribution.

Yahoo! News … Check. Google News … Check.

Every press release on is not only posted on Yahoo! News, it is streamed on Yahoo! Finance. A search using “eReleases” will pull up our press releases, which are distributed by PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance. Every single press release we distribute can be found there, as well as on Google News.

What About Web Searches?

Search engine visibility is not limited to news searches. Because eReleases permanently hosts press releases (we have over 15,000 on our site), our press releases also come up under web searches as well as news searches. Clients get visitors to their website months and years after distribution. One of our clients gets over 1,800 visitors to their press release each month, and it’s two-and-a-half years since the press release was issued.

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Put the “Press” Back in Press Releases

In addition, the core business of eReleases has always been to get the client’s press release directly in front of the media. As a result, every press release is distributed to subscribing journalists and sent through a true newswire (PR Newswire) to virtually every newsroom in the country.

When a Visitor Isn’t a Visitor

If a web surfer views a headline to your press release and visits the press release (which counts as a visit to your website via the iframe to your site on the press release website), did that web surfer ever actually view your website? I have visited lots of press releases and never scrolled down, yet the iframe buried at the bottom of the page loaded the company’s web page and I was counted as a website visitor.

PR Metrics

The only true number and metric is whether you get media pickup and sales as a result of a press release. A press release that doesn’t get picked up by any websites nor any search engines, yet gets a shout out on TechCrunch or the Wall Street Journalist, would be considered extremely effective by any PR practitioner. The resulting traffic and sales would bear this out. I have hundreds of satisfied customers who have achieved millions of dollars worth of publicity for my clients. A press release can have such success only when it is issued on a site whose goal is to reach the media, not to earn money by defacing your news with ads for your competitors.

Backlinks to Your Press Release

The backlinks to your website from the press release provider’s website rarely yields anything more than anecdotal impact on your search engine rankings. The improved search engine rankings usually occurs to the press release provider’s website from backlinks to your press release on its site, which you don’t own or control. It’s a great business model — for the press release provider. You provide the content but the press release website benefits most from any traffic and from the ad revenue.

SEO Eye Candy

Despite my criticism of search engine visibility, iframes, and backlinks, eReleases does have SEO enhancements, iframes, and WireWatch reports showing backlinks to your press release on key media websites. It’s what customers want and cite when comparing press release services. We provide the features because our customers want them but more than 95 percent of a press release’s effectiveness has nothing to do with these features. Relationships and access to journalists will always be where a press release succeeds or fails. It’s this relationship and expertise that makes a great publicist invaluable. It’s where free press release websites will always fail.

My Goal Line Is at the Zero Yard Line, Your Goal Line Involves a Different Sport on a Different Field

Why has search engine visibility become the goal for press releases? Press releases have always been about generating media interest. Most free and low-cost press release services never address distribution of your press release to the media. Reaching 2,000 “cold” visitors that result in no sales is not the same as obtaining a true media pickup where readership can easily total tens of thousands or more. A visitor who stumbles across a headline or web page is a cold lead. They found the headline or press release interesting. Someone who reads an actual article about you or your company and seeks out your website out is a warm lead. I would take one warm lead over one hundred cold leads any day of the week. In the end, it’s about ROI (Return on Investment).

Free Press Releases Serve a Purpose

Don’t get me wrong, free press releases serve a purpose:

  • You can see your pay-per-click advertisement on your competitor’s free press release … but they can also put their ad on yours … brilliant! (for the pay-per-click company, and for the free press release site, at least).
  • They cost nothing (except your time – that’s free, right?)

The sad reality is that many smart entrepreneurs (the ones who value their time) will never try press releases again after playing the free press release game, having decided that press releases just don’t work.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

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