The Pros and Cons of Press Release Distribution Services

Press release distribution services have been with us since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.  Well, OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a teensy bit – but sometimes it feels that way.

The maturity of the news distribution market has led to an array of choices for the discerning PR professional.  There are free press release distribution services (24-7PressRelease.com, the creatively titled PR.com), giant behemoths (PR NewswireBusinessWire) and those somewhere in between (PRWebMarketWired).

Each of these has its pro’s and con’s.  I feel it’s my duty as a PR professional to tell you about some of them.

Because there are so many of these services available, I thought it best to focus on the four biggies.  So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what each of these services has to offer (and what you may want to be wary of):

PR Newswire

Pro’s:

Huge distribution network: If you put your release on PR Newswire, it’s likely to get picked up just about anywhere.

Dynamic media capabilities: They offer the option of including images, videos, audio and more to complement your written release.

Ability to track ROI: You can see who’s reading your news, where it got picked up, how your coverage ranks in comparison to specified competitors, etc.

Good customer service

Con’s:

Price: It tends to be more expensive than some of the other services.

Subscription and contract: Most likely you’ll need to enter into a contract of a specified length, such as 12 months.  But doing so can often give you a better deal on prices.

Limited word count: Press releases can be a maximum 400 words.  Anything over that costs extra.

BusinessWire

Pro’s:

Huge distribution network: Like PR Newswire, BusinessWire has a very broad reach.

Smart Marketing Pages: BusinessWire gives users the ability to build a “Smart Marketing Page” – an interactive page, hosted on BusinessWire.com, that provides a wealth of information about a company, its products and services.

Social media monitoring: Users can closely monitor how their news is playing on popular social media feeds, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google +.

Very good customer service (at least in my experience)

Con’s:

Price: Like PR Newswire, BusinessWire is NOT inexpensive.  BUT, if you’re savvy, you can sometimes play them off one another to get a better rate (i.e., let your BusinessWire sales rep know you’re speaking with PR Newswire, and vice-versa).  Don’t tell them I told you that.

Limited word count: Again, you’re limited on the number of words you can use, unless you want to pay more for extra.

Subscription and contract: Again, if you’re the type that doesn’t like being locked in a contract, you may want to pursue one of the other services, such as…

PRWeb

Pro’s:

Inexpensive: You can put a news release out over PRWeb for as little as $99.

Easy to use: PRWeb’s online template is very easy to use and straightforward.  But there’s a caveat (see the “Con’s” below).

Good reporting capabilities: They provide detailed reports of how many times your release has been seen, where it’s been seen (by region), etc.

No limit on word count

No subscription required: Anyone may post a release at any time.

Good customer service

Con’s:

Limited distribution: You’ll still get your release seen on Google News and elsewhere, but do not expect the type of pick-up you might see with BusinessWire or PR Newswire.

48 hour turnaround for some releases: If you go for one of the less expensive packages, you will need to wait 48 hours before your release crosses the wire (you can, however, pay $100 more to have your release go out quicker).

Limited to 1 link per 100 words

Commendable – yet insane — authorization process: Remember when I wrote that PRWeb is “easy to use?”  Well, it is – until it’s time for your release to be distributed.  In order to combat unauthorized posting of press releases, Last year PRWeb instituted an authorization process that requires whoever is distributing the release to jump through more hoops than a circus performer, including authorization of websites, email addresses, phone numbers, social media feeds, and more.  This is all very commendable, but you should be prepared to spend a little time trying to get through all this before your release hits the Web.  Also, be aware that none of this can be done in advance, only after the press release has been uploaded.

MarketWired

Pro’s:

More of a social media focus: MarketWired doesn’t really position itself as a press release distribution service.  Instead, they offer a number of solutions that, in their words, “help our clients identify and tune into the conversations that count” (i.e., what people are saying on the Interwebs).

Ideal for social media interaction: MarketWired has a strong network of blogs and social media channels.

Less expensive than PR Newswire and BusinessWire

Anyone can post: Like PRWeb, there’s no subscription required

Very good reporting capabilities

Con’s:

Traditional media distribution network is not as strong as PR Newswire or BusinessWire.

Authorization process is similar to the one employed by PRWeb, which can be a challenge.

Even though press releases do not have the cache they once did, they’re still an important component of PR programs.  As such, you’ll want to choose the best possible vehicle to get them out into the wild.  But not every distribution service is the same.  Knowing the pro’s and con’s of each may help save you some headaches and dollars, and ensure your release gets to where it needs to go.