In the PR world, press releases are our bread and butter. They’ve been a staple of the business for decades because they serve a distinct purpose: to inform the media of news. However, in the age of the 24/7 digital news cycle, the role of the press release is up for debate — and some consider them obsolete.
But are they really? Have reporters stopped asking to see the full release when you contact them about news – a partnership, company milestone, new product or a big hire? No. Businesses use different media to tell their story in this evolving PR environment, but press releases REMAIN an effective and trustworthy source of information for companies big and small. They’re here to stay.
But a press release is only as good as its distribution. Is it enough to post it on your own website or blog? Probably not. So, should PR teams use newswire services to push news out? Many are expensive and those costs can add up.
What is newswire distribution?
For a fee, any organization can upload their press release to a newswire service that distributes it directly to news organizations, much like the original news agencies like Associated Press fed reports to newspapers in the early days of electronic journalism. Companies opt for newswire distribution because it’s quick, efficient, and guaranteed. It has also traditionally offered a temporary boost for search rankings for the organizations generating the news, although that has changed. A few of the top picks for press release distribution services include:
Business Wire – Known for robust targeting, outlet-type choices, multimedia options and its ability to distribute across 100,000 premium outlets (broadcast, digital and print). Keep a check on their pricing as they’re expensive.
GlobeNewswire – Offers real-time monitoring of online news, print, and social media and a 360-degree view of your performance.
PR Newswire – More on the affordable side and best suited for mid-sized business news. This Cision-owned media distribution platform boasts a network of over 3,000 newsrooms (like The New York Times, ABC News, BuzzFeed and more).
PRWeb – Like PR Newswire, PR Web is also owned by Cision and usually a low-cost distribution option.
Other lower-priced options for tighter budgets can include eMailWire, PR.com and NewwireNext among others. Their cost range is well within $300 for the packages offered.
Distribution to news agencies, editorial offices and terminals as well as associated news sites is guaranteed in most cases, but coverage is not. At the higher end, costs can run nearly $2000 for an announcement of average length, depending on the distribution. Naturally companies may question the value of newswire distribution services, which offer pros and cons.
Benefits of using a newswire
Reach: Newswire services reach an extensive network, so a newswire release will reach online news sites, portals, databases, and websites devoted to specific industries. You can also choose to have your press release sent to regional, national, or international media. Additionally, they offer analytics that show, for example, how many people viewed your release, where the news appeared online, the number of unique visitors, and monthly page views. The comprehensive reports can be helpful.
Referral traffic: Since you have full control over the content of a press release, you also have the opportunity to include backlinks to your website.
Translation: If your release needs to be sent to a non-English country and requires translation, newswire offers that as well (but at an additional cost).
Where newswire lacks
No coverage guarantees: Sure, the release reaches multiple news outlets, but wire distribution does not guarantee coverage. It doesn’t ensure that a reporter will open or read the release. An impressive-looking report doesn’t necessarily mean that major media actually used the announcement in their coverage.
Cost: Newswires range in cost, but many are expensive. The cost depends on the length of the press release and the scope of the distribution. For GlobeNewswire release distribution in North America, the cost stands at $600 for first 400 words and goes up to $140 for each additional 100 words. Similarly, price point is a caveat for Business Wire and is better suited for large PR and marketing budgets.
SEO value: Since Google made press releases nofollow links, SEO impact is less likely. So a release should be written to gain the type of coverage that will itself boost SEO – that is, from high-value media domains, not for a quick bump.
For companies that are publicly traded, financial announcements always warrant a newswire distribution due to timely disclosure regulations. However, for small or mid-sized companies, spending thousands of dollars on non-financial announcements is probably not worthwhile.
Those organizations should instead focus on developing the right media strategy (exclusive or embargo outreach) to get media attention and coverage, then plan to amplify the news by sharing on their website, social media channels and direct marketing.
Newswires aren’t earned media
My take: To generate the right amount of noise and quality coverage, newswire services are NOT the only answer. They should be used sparingly, usually for major announcements, and approached as a means to an end, not the end in itself.
Besides quarterly earnings, news around key company hire, an acquisition, big product launches and brand partnerships, among others, should probably be distributed via newswire. Other announcements should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to manage budgets properly. And to spark reporters’ interest in covering the news for maximum mileage, nothing beats that time-honored public relations tactic — one-on-one outreach.