Online PR Distribution Debate Opened Up Again?

The launch of a new press release distribution service called PR Zone is likely to open up the debate about public relations companies using online distribution services once again.

PR Zone Front Page

PR Zone Front Page

The PR industry has been slow enough to embrace these type services and Searh Engine Optimisation of press releases is ignored by a lot of traditional PR companies.  The service is not new (although it does contain some innovations) and is broadly a welcome development.  However the service uses a pay of play model where you register full company details and then buy credits to utilise the different levels of service they deliver.

This is a route that Prangle tied some time ago but with limited uptake from PR companies.  Prangle came from the journalist side of the house and tried to establish the service as a one stop shop for the media industry where the different publication houses would allocate a resource to monitor the feeds supplied by the PR industry.  The theory being that PR and other companies would go through the service rather than send their content to their contacts in the media.  The stumbling blocks were the cost involved (a fee was charged to use the service) and a perception that the relationships that PR companies spend years fostering with the media, would in essence be cut out of the equation.  It also relied heavily on the media commiting to using the service consistently and most media are still happier to receive stories from established contacts.  On a technical side the service was robust and future proofed in that it allowed uploading of different type media from high res photos to video.  As a supplemntary service it was useful but the cost of using it meant the PR industry did not buy into it wholesale.

Not all entrants went the paid for model and Irish Press Releases uses a model similar to the other international sites where you can up load a story, with the site displaying all the recent stories.  Some vetting of stories is done to ensure a certain level of quality control.  Overall its a good service and I imagine it will charge at a future date for add on facilities such as loading of extra multimedia and possibly other syndication services similar to PR Zone.

Irish Press Releases Homepage

Irish Press Releases Homepage

We have used some of the free international SEO press release submission sites and have also used paid for syndication services such as Business Wire – especially for international releases where we would not have strong relationships overseas media.

The PR industry would appear to feel threatened by these services espcially the paid for ones where they feel they could be cut out of the process and budgets are tight.  The reality is that having a service does not replace the genuine value that a communications company brings in terms of constructing a good robust story.  Up to half the effort can be invested in getting the messaging and scripting right.  These services are a good supplement to what a PR company does and does not replace them.  They are especially good at increasing the digital footprint, even more so if a company does not have a media section on their site.

Innovation in the PR industry is always welcome and for some companies these services are the best way for them to go, especially if they are good at telling their story and have limited budgets.  I dont believe they are a threat but rather offer a lot of synergy.

The big question is if the PR industry is willing to pay for them and see their value.  Time will tell.

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7 Comments. Leave new

Thomas Brunkard
April 16, 2009 8:43 am

Agree totally that they aid the digital footprint but anybody that thinks that this going to garner quality coverage is sadly mistaken. You can’t replace relationships, direct engagement and targeting with spam.

Thanks Thomas. Big debate on some UK sites on value of PR where some PR companies only produced SEO PR coverage as the result of a 3K spend. Interestingly we have has a few media queries that have arisen from SEO PR especially when journalists have google alerts set up for topics. Sometimes catches media you may have over looked or uncover new contacts.

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Steve Rawson
June 9, 2009 1:02 pm

Press release distribution companies may aid your organisation’s digital footprint and understandbly using to save valuable time rather than compiling international mailing lists for specific sectors makes sense, but nothing will ever beat the consistency of one on one relationships with key journallists when promoting stories on behalf of clients.

Thanks Steve. These services are a useful addition to what PR companies do. For international PR or in geographies where you have little or no contacts they are particularly handy but again as a supplement rather than acting as the only outreach you do.

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