Choosing a Wire Service

Last Updated Aug 7, 2007 2:16 PM EDT

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Today a relatively new wire distribution service (24-7pressrelease.com) announced that it was named #1 in a list of the "top five press release companies" (ironically, 24-7pressrelease.com used PRNewswire for the distribution of their press release announcing this accomplishment).

10 years ago, press release distribution was basically a two horse race between Businesswire and PRNewswire. PR Newswire has always been more expensive than Businesswire. I've generally found the distribution results of the two services to be virtually indistinguishable. I eventually favored Businesswire after PR Newswire royally screwed the pooch on a time-sensitive release that I needed to get out on the Japanese newswire (I'd already had the release translated into Japanese ... all they needed to do was get it out over the wire, and it took them more than two days to do so, with horrible customer service along the way). I've since been nothing but satisfied with Businesswire's customer service and will forever hold my petty grudge against PR Newswire.

In ~'99, Marketwire joined the wire distro mix, and quickly won many converts. While the distribution outlets (web sites, media lists, db's, etc.) are similar to those of the established services, Marketwire made a name for being very strong in trade distribution to IT, healthcare and others. The service has a reputation for lower pricing ... and also for being more in tune with SEO optimization, "live links" and some other social media enhancements.

I think the prevailing PR pro experience with press releases has generally been that they in of themselves do not create new media opportunities. For most company press releases that lead to media coverage, the publicity is due to a human directly initiating the dialogue with the respective journalist (versus a release going over the wire and then numerous inbound media inquiries suddenly flying in over the transom). That type of response may happen in the fringe examples (truly earth-shattering product announcements, etc.), but if you're distributing more mundane, run-of-the-mill news, that type of outcome isn't going to be triggered merely by choosing the right wire service. Publicity opportunities are generally going to have a direct relationship to the effort you put into building and maintaining your target lists and your savvy in how you communicate the news to those targets. There's no wire service shortcut that's going to transcend that.

However, many PR folks that are used to thinking about wire services as a choice between PR Newswire and Businesswire are long overdue in taking a new survey of the landscape.

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Image courtesy of shyb's photostream on flickr creative commons.