Let’s get one thing straight about press releases: They are not the primary driver for good public relations. Words on paper does not a relationship make. They are, however, an important component to delivering information to those who wish to cover your organization, event or company. For most, local press releases — those sent to media outlets in a specific geographic boundary or target — are the lifeblood of publicity. The PR 2.0 world kinda forgot about that. Thankfully, readMedia has a solution that serves the local press release target, serves up web and social media-friendly release tools and helps clients appear in online news aggregators like Google News, all for a reasonable price.

read Media - Local Press Release distribution serviceIn a nutshell, a readMedia customer signs up for a low subscription price (more in a moment), selects the geographic region they are targeting, calls out the media offered from a readMedia-curated database, adds any they see fit to add, enters the press release in the system and the distribution is done. Releases are emailed (or faxed based on the media outlet’s preference … yes, some people apparently still fax) posted to the online news aggregation services and placed in an online newsroom. From there, media can embed the releases using an iFrame mechanism (see below for an example) and grab multimedia or other assets the customer makes available.

The client can then grab a widget of their own release headlines to use on their Facebook page, blog or website, embed the releases wherever they like or share across several social networks. The service is not yet set up to, nor meant to, replace your own website or even media page/news room, but gives you the tools to dress your website up with a newsroom feed and share mechanisms.

Now, I’m sure a few of you who are all social media’d up are saying, “Well, isn’t that what PitchEngine is?” No. PitchEngine doesn’t have a media database attached to it. (Although I caught wind they were announcing one today.) As of Friday on PitchEngine, you build a social media press release. Driving people to it is up to you (though they certainly have a community of readers and social tools baked in as well.) And even if PitchEngine adds a media database back-end to their offering, it won’t likely be built to be hyper-local in focus.

readMedia’s front page sells the service as good for State Agencies, Local Governments or Schools. But it’s as appropriate for local or regional businesses as it is for these type organizations. Still, as a former college public relations director, I can see how this can be mighty useful. (And that’s without the hometown press release program they have … more in a moment.)

I logged in to test the service and picked the Lexington, Ky. metro area, my former primary market when PR director at Georgetown College many moons ago. Turns out to use the readMedia service for that market, I only have to pay $29.00 per month for up to 50 contacts. The maximum fee would be $49.00 per month for 250 contacts and five user accounts. The per DMA, volume pricing automatically makes a cool, Web 2.0 PR service affordable for smaller market businesses.

When I reviewed the media list, I was impressed. They had all the main players, many hometown weeklies in outlying towns like Nicholasville and Winchester and even several local radio stations with news departments. For a company that doesn’t use a large media database company but rather builds and curates the lists themselves (with the help of client feedback, of course) readMedia impressed me.

I got hold of a client’s newsroom as well. The Nathan Littauer Hostpital “news room” is really just a list of release headlines. They have more graphically-driven information positioned on their website and use readMedia as a media utility. All readMedia “news rooms” are like this now, but they tell me a more designed, customizable presentation is on the way soon. Littauer’s most recent news, a story of a citation as being a progressive facility for energy conservation from Thursday, came up (as of Friday) as the top Google News result for “hospital energy conservation,” so the news postings are working well.

Local Press Release Distribution works with Google News as well

The embed-offering of the release is even strong because it’s branded, but in subtle fashion, making it easy to use on any website or blog with little awkwardness in design.

And since everything is digitally-driven, they deliver a nice analytics report that tells you how many folks view, embed and share  your news, plus where your stats rank against other releases in their system, etc.

So for local-based media relations efforts, readMedia is the real deal. Smart, easy to use, reliable database service that can be customized to your liking as well, all with smart Web 2.0 tools.

And then I looked at their offering for schools. Sure, this type of approach isn’t going to resonate with everyone, but not only are there tens of thousands of education public relations professionals in the U.S. alone, but in certain instances, this could apply beyond education.

readMedia’s pricing for schools is based on your student enrollment and geared toward hometown releases, a program that allows colleges to send press releases to the local newspapers of all their students (for Dean’s List announcements, etc.) regardless of geographic centricity to the institution. A college with a class size of 2,500 can run a hometown release program using readMedia for just $39.00 per month. I would have paid 10 times that amount when I was having to send 800 hometown press releases out each semester at Georgetown.

As you can tell, I really dig readMedia and what they offer. For the price and the service, I don’t know of anyone offering something comparable. The service’s focus on local press release distribution sets them apart. As one readMedia client told Amy Mengel, readMedia’s new inbound marketing director, using the big media database companies for local press release services is like using a 747 to cross the street. readMedia is a targeted service for people who need it. And well worth checking out.

Now, it would be remiss of me to not disclaim the hell out of this review. Press releases are a piece of your public relations arsenal. They should never be sent to media members who do not ask for them, in my opinion. Releases are tools for more information after the reporter has said, “Yes, I’m interested.” Blasting releases to your list should only happen when you have culled that list to ensure the media members on it write about the topic your release covers, their audience is potentially interested in the subject and they know and approve of you putting them on a distribution list.

(I’ll pause while some PR people curse me a few times.)

A press release is not a pitching mechanism. Your personal outreach to the media outlet is. Pitch first. Release if requested. Follow that framework and you’ll see better results.

And if you’re focused on local press release distribution, readMedia can help you get them, too.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.readmedia.com/ Colin Mathews

    Jason, thanks for taking the time to look at readMedia and letting your readers know about what we're up to. You explained it all a lot better than we generally do!

    I thought this post on Lost Remote (http://bit.ly/9sdAzs) summarizing the Pew Internet & American Life’s latest survey would add some useful context: people get their news from a lot of sources, and as you pointed out last week, traditional media is still a big part of the mix. What readMedia is trying to do is make it easy to support a successful multiplatform strategy that's focused on people publicizing “geographically relevant” (local and regional) news.

    Again, many thanks for your interest.

    Colin
    CEO, readMedai

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for such a useful tool, Colin. Glad to let people know about it.

  • Sheryl

    Wow! What a fantastic service. I do a lot of PR for various non-profit organizations in the Los Angeles and Orang County areas, and I can't tell you how many hours I spend trying to keep my media lists up to date. I checked out readMedia's web site. Services and prices appear to be great. Thanks for the tip!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      You're very welcome. Hope it helps you!

  • http://simonmainwaring.com/blog Simon Mainwaring

    Thanks, Jason. Really useful post.

    There's lessons to be learned from realMedia. Make it simple, cost effective and tonally appropriate. Just as any PR should be. I'll check out the service now. Thanks.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for swinging by, Simon. Glad to see you here. And glad I could turn
      you on to something that might prove useful.

  • http://twitter.com/AJGerritson AJGerritson

    Hey Jason,

    Seems like a great tool that I need to check out. I will also pass along to the team members here at 451. Do you know if it lets you embed links within the release?

    AJ

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Pretty sure it does. It's pretty Web 2.0 friendly.

    • http://amymengel.com amymengel

      Hi AJ. Yes, you can definitely embed links directly into the release. Here's an example of a release that does that from our newswire today: http://is.gd/9wWsh

      Amy Mengel
      readMedia

  • http://www.vmrcommunications.com Hugh Macken

    Jason – This looks impressive. Looks like ReadMedia is attacking the proverbial long tail. Very smart strategy. I'm going to try using it for my local Toastmasters group, for an open house we have coming up.
    A couple of observations:
    1. I agree with you about pitching first. But does ReadMedia provide media contact information like phone #s beyond just an email address, I wonder, to help me do exactly that?
    2. Also, I may be mistaken but the $29 for 50 contacts would be up to 50 of your personal contacts in addition to the contacts ReadMedia provides you with from their database. So theoretically for $29 you could be sending the release to more than 50 contacts.
    3. I'm a bit surprised they don't offer a free trial and different pricing for non-profits vs for-profits.
    4. the Iframe mechanism is very clean and simple. I've used PitchEngine and I may be mistaken but I don't recall seeing that feature.
    Great post. Thanks so much for the heads up on this.

    • http://amymengel.com amymengel

      Hi Hugh. To answer your questions:
      1. Yes, on your media list in the readMedia application you can see reporters' phone numbers so you can make calls to follow up with them.
      2. You are correct, the “contacts” are in addition to all the media you get with your account, based on the geographic reach you specify when you sign up. The contacts feature allows you to add additional media outlets to your readMedia account that may be outside the geography for your account. A lot of our clients add a few key contacts at trade publications for their industry, as an example.
      3. We currently don't have different pricing for non-profit and for-profit businesses, but our pricing is very low (starting at $29/month for unlimited distribution) and many non-profits find it a very affordable solution that gives them a lot of features and benefits they couldn't get doing in-house distribution of news releases.

      Thanks for your comment and your interest in readMedia. We're looking forward to seeing your Toastmasters announcement come across our wire!

      Amy Mengel
      readMedia

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I'd elaborate, but Amy should have you covered. Thanks for the
      thoughtful questioning, Hugh. Good to know my readers hold us all to
      the task and are thorough. Good for everyone. Much appreciated.

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  • http://www.curvecommunications.com/blog/ Curve Communications

    Shame it's limited to USA, I was hoping to give it a shot for Canada! I wonder if Amy could let me know if there are plans to expand?

    Victoria

    • http://amymengel.com amymengel

      Thanks for your interest, Victoria. Right now readMedia is focused on the US market, but I will keep you posted if we expand for Canadian customers.

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  • http://thesocialmediachronicle.blogspot.com/ Natalie DeNike

    What a useful tool! I appreciate that readMedia is pushing boundaries on traditional media. You are right that the PR 2.0 world has lost interest in the traditional news release. readMedia has clearly caught on to this and used it to their advantage in designing this new tool. Not to mention readMedia clearly aims to make a tedious task much less time consuming and more efficient. Very innovative!

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  • Justin Brown

    Sounds great, but does it actually work well?

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