I was struck by the accuracy and importance of this very well-written article on The New Rules of PR by David Meerman Scott. I agree wholeheartedly with his assertions. You need to use press releases as a consumer/customer outreach medium and think of their impact on your overall internet search marketing approach. I worked for a number of years in corporate marketing, churning out press releases for companies and products. Every time I tried to create a release that varied in the slightest from the traditional phrasing and structure of the classic 1985 classroom marketing curriculum it would come back red-lined from a corporate marketing group with notes about how I didn't include a generic and meaningless company executive quote in the second paragraph, customer quote in the fourth paragraph, and first sentence including the official company press release descriptor (GenericTech, the leader in innovative technological approaches to profit advancement, today announced...).
When publicizing your webinars (whether free lead generation events or paid registration revenue generators), you should use press releases to get the word out. No journalist is going to pick up your release and run it as a news story, so word the release for effective search utility and customer involvement. Speak directly to your audience in words that they can understand and are interested in.
Regular readers have seen my plaudits for WebEx's marketing and outreach effectiveness. Note that Mr. Scott picked them out as an example of how to align press release strategy with overall marketing efforts. Looking over the last month of press releases consolidated on my Webinar Success Industry News page, you will see releases from many of the technology vendors. (You do check that page daily for the latest breaking news, don't you?) Want some extra publicity? Work a partner release with your vendor to mention that you are using their technology to deliver your event. They want to be seen as a critical business technology being used for real web conferences. You can probably get them to pay the distribution costs for the press release. And you'll double your search vectors, since you can key on your company name, your topic, and the vendor's name.