{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

The press release distribution service sits in an odd place within the world of communications. 

For a journalist, wires can highlight stories from abroad, or from niche industries that wouldn’t normally be on your radar but turn out to be interesting. However, getting the balance right is difficult. Signing up to receive email alerts opens the door to a flood of unrelated, badly-pitched releases. It’s a tough call.

For a PR, these wires are a reliable way to send out the releases that might appear dry, but your client insists on putting out - or need to be for financial reasons. You still need to write the story well, and tag properly, but it’s a quick and painless way to get the word out.

However – as Google alerts, social networks and online communities grow in strength and accuracy when sourcing stories and building relationships – what becomes of the wires? Do they become less important? Do they cease to exist?

We reached out to several newswires to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, with the addition of one voice of reason to provide an unbiased viewpoint. Here’s what they had to say.

What's the current state of press release distribution services? Are they as popular as they once were?

Tim Whitlock, co-founder BrandfeedWe're in the middle of a shift from the old fashioned notion of 'distribution' as one-way broadcasting, toward a more modern 'pub/sub' model; where content is pushed to us, but on our terms. Journalists expect not to be 'broadcast at' and want better control over the content that reaches them. For brands and PRs, we expect the web to make distribution easy; so good tools that aid our workflow without annoying journalists should remain popular.

Daryl Willcox, chairman DWPub: Yes, they're definitely as popular, more so if anything. What has happened is the market has got a little crowded, with a number of new services launching in the last couple of years. This means people have a lot more choice when it comes to release distribution services, though still only a handful offer true direct distribution to UK media in combination with significant online visibility.

Adam Parker, chief executive Realwire: It’s a crowded marketplace with a plethora of service providers. They include the high cost traditional wire services, specialist services that are focussed on particular sectors or media, database and platform providers - and free services that a recent analysis exercise by Vitis PR demonstrated have generally very little or no value. With the current challenging economic climate meaning that there is often less good news to announce in the first place, the fact that we have seen volume levels still increase suggests services have retained their popularity. This may also reflect experienced users of distribution services being more selective with which service they choose from the array of options on offer.

Stephen Waddington, MD Speed Communications: The public relations industry is embracing social media and slowly moving to direct relationships where relationships are built via direct engagement. It’s a long haul that will take a decade to work out. In the meantime wire services provide a short cut and though diminished will continue to have a role whilst these changes work through. The press release has become a general purpose document that an organisation publishes on its web site and issues via a wire service, not to inform the media of a news event, but typically to reach broader audiences and more often than not to satisfy an internal audience.

Wire services will always have a role in the financial market where a legislative framework demands that information is communicated simultaneously via prescribed channels.

Adam Cranfield, part of the digital communications team at Mynewsdesk: Good PR is about relationships, and carpet-bombing people with generic releases has never been a good way to start a relationship. Influencers in your sector are not just an email on a list – you need to engage with them on their terms, listen to what they are saying and measure how they respond to your content. Brands are starting to realise that they can offer so much more to journalists and other influencers than a dull, text-only press release every two months that goes out to every Tom, Dick and Harriett.

Journalists want news and content that is relevant, interesting and timely. Many 'news wire' services have a weak reputation for meeting those needs. Scattergun PR doesn’t work, so communicators are choosing smarter ways to engage influencers online, such as social media newsrooms, multimedia content and real-time interaction enabled by social listening.

Is this a dying industry - or an evolving one because of the benefits to search? 

TW: Like any industry, this will survive as long as it keeps up with change. Services that embrace the way the web is changing our attitudes at work will thrive; those that don't will probably be left behind. Search isn't dead yet, but people need to trust the sources. Discovery and recommendation are more modern forms of search that the industry would do well to crack. 

DW: The search benefits of online release distribution have certainly revitalised the industry over the last five years. Now that the driving force is social media, as online press release distribution can be an affective way of reaching bloggers and other influencers. With the current enthusiasm for content marketing, release distribution is very complimentary to such effort. This is an evolving industry, no doubt about it.

AP: It’s not a dying industry, but the services that haven’t evolved must certainly be feeling the pinch. Search has been just one of the areas pushing services to evolve. Social media and the all too frequent (unfortunately) practice of poor targeting have also been drivers for change. 

SW: During the downturn there has almost certainly been an increase in demand for wire services as a catch all means of ensuring that a press release reaches as broad an audience as possible. It’s often an issue of scale for large international organisations.

The online search industry has recognised the opportunity that press releases and wire services offer to build inbound links as a tactic to improve keyword search rankings. Faux news content is often distributed via a wire service with the goal of securing widespread coverage around target keywords and web links on editorially driven web sites that are ranked highly by search engines. It’s a mechanical process to game results that is a flawed strategy that creates confusion and can result in reputational damage. Wire services need to innovative and work out their relative to information flows as media continues to fragment and social media develops. Those that recognise these changes and figure out how to continue to be relevant by embracing social media will thrive.

AC: Public relations is more vital than ever, but the days when you could convince a handful of journalists to spin a story and think 'job done' are gone. Search engines and social media make everyone an investigative journalist, so all brands need a plan for getting favourable content seen on Google, Facebook and Twitter. The fundamental strategy is to grow your network of influencers and to keep nourishing them with valuable, rich, shareable and original content.

What's the best practice in terms of using wire services? 

TW: If it's not targeted, personal and relevant to your audience - then you're doing something wrong. It's debatable whether you can blame the tools for that. Just yesterday somebody told me they were annoyed by the daily recipient limit in Gmail. Apparently unaware of MailChimp and such, they wanted to send the same message to 100 journalists. Sure, we could build you a tool that will do that, but we won't. We want to help the sender and the recipient, or rather - the publisher and the subscriber. That's the long way of saying: find a tool that makes your life easier without compromising the quality of what you're distributing.

DW: In all honesty I think many brands under-utilise press release distribution. There are so many benefits - not just the obvious wider reach to media and search benefits but also social media pick-up, direct to consumer communications and more - but some of this is quite subtle and only really works well as part of a concerted, long-term PR or content marketing campaign. Best practise I would say would be to identify what your real objectives are - whether that's gaining online visibility, reaching the media or both. This will help you to select an appropriate wire service. You also need to consider where your customers are. Many people are mistakenly drawn to international wire services as it gives them the perception of broad coverage, but you have to question the real value of the results you get.

AP: They should be used where they can add some value and increase the likelihood of achieving your objectives and that’s all about relevance. Relevance in functional terms - if you have multimedia content to include then ensure the service can cope with this and doesn’t charge exorbitant add-on costs. Relevance to you or your client’s business - make sure the wire you use has an understanding of the sectors and areas of interest you are trying to target. Finally, relevance in terms of the approach to outbound distribution; do they only target potentially interested recipients? Beware claims of reaching tens of thousands of people.

SW: Align the service with your audience as closely as you can.

AC: News wires aren’t the answer and press releases shouldn’t be used in isolation. If a release does its initial job of piquing interest, the likely next step for a journalist or blogger is to search for further information. This is when you want to be the best source of information about your brand, by providing a fully integrated social media newsroom, multimedia content and multiple ways for them to connect with your brand.

Vikki Chowney

Published 30 January, 2012 by Vikki Chowney

Vikki is head of community at TMW. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+

249 more posts from this author

Comments (18)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Paul Keers, Axon Publishing

Surely the real "experts" one wants to hear from are the journalists who use the services - not those with a vested interest in promoting them!

almost 5 years ago

Vikki Chowney

Vikki Chowney, Head of Social at TMW

Hi Paul, a good point, but when discussing this space that's actually the standard view that's put forward - either that of the PR or the journalist. We all know how they view these services, and there are hundreds of posts already covering that angle.

In this case we were interested in hearing from the services themselves, in terms of how the technology is being used and developed.

VC

almost 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jo da Silva

I think it's interesting to see that SEO tactics have de-valued the PR newswire services. I feel it's not entirely a bad thing though as it encourages building meaningful relationships between brands and journalists. And social media is only going to help this where people are busy / in different locations, and hopefully will discourage the generation of naff content written purely for SEO purposes. Hopefully PR and SEO can unite to create great content for readers that work for PR and SEO purposes.

almost 5 years ago

Adam Cranfield

Adam Cranfield, Chief Marketing Officer at Mynewsdesk

Jo, it's sad that when you say 'SEO tactics' we all immediately know what you mean - and you don't mean nourishing influencers in your sector with valuable and relevant content so that they are more likely to reward you with quality coverage, leading to quality links and quality traffic. Truly effective PR is a killer SEO tactic.
Adam

almost 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jim C

In my opinion, the entire meaning of 'PRESS' releases has gotten lost in the works, due to modern-day internet marketing tactics.

Many people just want to publish them online for SEO purposes - and have no actual interest in the press ever physically seeing them.

The line between press releases and article marketing has sadly become blurred. It's about time the two mediums were used for their original purpose.

almost 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Brian Ahearne

The thing is, whilst lots of PR companies and departments are extending their skills and service base into social media activity, many clients and bosses want something pretty fundamental from public relations: coverage from authoritative media titles/journalists/bloggers giving inferred third-party endorsement / earned media to their company/brand/personality.

Clients should question PR agencies who are being paid to get media coverage who claim a Google News alert when their "news" release "appears" on Reuters / Yahoo News / the wire service itself or some obscure site that's picked up content from a news wire. Few if any of the customers to be targeted in the PR activity are ever really going to see those articles unless they have set their Google alert settings to the name of the company featured in the release.

Our report "A Circulation Without A Readership" which assessed the opinions of 550 public relations professionals shows that more than two fifths of respondents (41.8 per cent) who use release distribution services said that these services only gained media coverage “from time to time” and almost one in five (18.3 per cent) said that these services “very rarely” or “never” get coverage.

Only one third (30.5 per cent) confidently claimed that they gain coverage “all the time”.

Interestingly, those respondents who said that press release wires “always” gained coverage were more likely to give a high value to their press release simply appearing on an electronic press release distribution service.

We're sensitive about asking lots of journalists to spend time helping us on a research exercise, but of the handful we have asked, none praised them. One tech editor said he'd completely removed himselves from such services. Another said that they're simply press release spam.

As for the value of direct communications to consumers - consumers aren't stupid. Yes, getting messages to them has some benefit in whatever form it appears, but if the information is in a press release format, and on a site that simply displays unedited press releases, it's the online equivalent of putting "advertorial" at the top - but even more obvious. Clients should question why their PR people have to buy coverage.

Further, the PR industry needs to support media titles - both in print and online - by giving them content that's going to attract eyeballs so that their display advertising service functions effectively. That support is vastly diminished if PR people are going to blast their story all over the Internet. The value of the media title's content provision role is diminished, as the story is published on numerous pages of the web, meaning their's little point in the media title covering the release as their reader/viewership can find the info elsewhere.

For balance, we have achieved a few of pieces of truly valuable media coverage from news release distribution wires, but it's rare. As such we rarely use release distribution services, unless our client insists, our client has to comply with financial regulations, or we see a release wire serving a particular function in the project we are working on beyond our usual email pitching / sell-in functions. Our use is strategic, not prescribed for every release we work on. Moreover, the first question must be, "Is using a wire an effective use of a client's budget for this project?" For SEO purposes and non-core media relations purposes, there can be a role for such "quick and painless" services. For the most valuable coverage, question whether it's a good use of client budget first.

I've linked to our report. It includes raw data, so if you only want the analysis, you might just want to set your printer to print from page 1 to 18.

almost 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Marc Duke

Call me old fashioned but yesterday was on a call with distribution provider and despite the salesman’s best efforts I could not see the value in the service for the company. Ultimately social media has made journos more accessible than ever and made appropriate content more important than ever as well. Ultimately relevance and relationship will always be the key

almost 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Alexandra Gaiger, Digital Marketing Architect at ThoughtShift Ltd

I think the last section is the most pertinent as it all those interviewed have agreed that however you use PR it should be part of a larger customer centric marketing and communications strategy. It is not about shouting 'buy me, buy me' at your customer anymore, it is about giving them some information that will be of use and interest. These are core ethical digital marketing principles which should be integrated with PR and I am glad to see the trend growing

almost 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Mojow

Great interview Vikki, it seems that a lot of the old press release distribution sites are not keeping up with the times and integrating things such as Twitter and Facebook.

Pitchengine seems to be taking advantage of the social aspect of things but its more American focused, another good site to keep your eye on is http://www.pressat.co.uk which is similar to PE.

As a journalist for 40+ years PR news wires are not always your number 1 source for a story but are great for research, ideas etc...

almost 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

sidpeter

Great work, I liked your way to put your thoughts on this. Always, there are many an interesting information. I'll come to you once again.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Matthew Pollock

We are a small residential property research house (10 staff) which publishes truly original research on global house prices every quarter. We need to get the research visible.

So we have built our own press email list across all these countries. Our list suffers from all the problems people have talked about here (we are 'blasting' random journalists) but we see little alternative. It would be impossible to build relationships in all these countries. Also, we have to get visible first! We can hardly establish contacts with journalists in Germany, Brazil or New Zealand, unless they have first heard about us.

But it is a huge job to keep the list current and make sure it is truly comprehensive. We also feel it is a bit crazy to be doing this ourselves. After all, our needs are similar to many other people's.

What to do? Who could help? People are talking about 'traditional news wires'. But we've never seen anything that is very attractive, we feel our content would be lost amidst all this rather tedious corporate stuff.

So meanwhile we continue blasting the rather chaotic and amateur list we have built.

Are we doing the right thing?

over 4 years ago

Adam Cranfield

Adam Cranfield, Chief Marketing Officer at Mynewsdesk

Hi Matthew (and Econsultancy moderator) - I just spent a while typing a response to your post, but it has been removed. Not sure whether that was due to posting a link in there or the fact that I was explaining how Mynewsdesk can help your business. Since I was one of the 4 people interviewed in the post, I assumed it would be ok to respond to comments giving the viewpoint of the company. Anyway, if I am allowed to post a response then I will tell you a little bit more about what we would advise in your situation, and share an example from the property sector of CBRE.
Best
Adam

over 4 years ago

Adam Cranfield

Adam Cranfield, Chief Marketing Officer at Mynewsdesk

Also, ironic that my post was removed, given that 'sidpeter' above looks like an SEO spammer and hasn't been removed! : )

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Matthew Pollock

Hi Adam, not 100% sure that deletion was the cause, there was some 'shudder' when I posted which suggests possible system issues.

Anyway, I sent you an email and hope to talk to you.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Sajit Sudhakaran

I am glad that someone openly highlighted the evolving PR service.

about 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Kevin O'Doherty

This is perhaps the best explanation of the evolution of the press release distribution service. There is no questions that it has become increasingly important to develop and maintain relationships with traditional and new media.

There are many ways to build targeted media lists. Despite the musings of many old-school PR people I speak to, 'spray and pray' has never been an effective means of distributing news.

about 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jeff Warsden, PR Officer at Butty Comms

Problem with newswires is people submit cr**

If your press release can hold weight and has a newsworthy angle you will be picked up by publications.

We do most of our PR for clients in-house but we also outsource to a company called Pressat whom we've had some really good media pickups from.

about 3 years ago

Bill White

Bill White, CEO at WireNews Limited

WOW - I'm amazed at the number of business "experts" who publish advertising suggesting that they know anything at all about press releases. Press releases are sent to journalists, not articles posted to the Internet and then reposted and reposted and reposted. Imagine authoring a book and going the self-publishing route. After you publish your book you send a copy of it off the a number of mainstream book publishers asking them if they'd like to publish your book... Not very likely that any of them would be the slightest bit interested in re-publishing your book. So what makes you think that anyone would be interested in publishing your company's content as "News" once you posted it to 100+ websites? What these so-called experts are 'expert' in is publishing advertisements. Press releases are something altogether different.

6 months ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.