Oct 19, 2012

Picking the Best Press Release Wire Service for Your Needs – An Insider’s Guide

One of the most common questions PR people ask is “Which press release wire service should I use to issue my organization’s news?”

I’ve spent  20 years working for various newswires, including managing the press release distribution product at PR Newswire and keeping tabs on our competitors.  Simply put, I know the newswire business! So to help you find the best answer to that question “Which newswire service should I pick?” for your organization, here are some questions and criteria you can use to determine which wire service will work best for you.

Four questions to ask when selecting a press release distribution vendor:

First and foremost, you should question vendors about their coverage – in terms of both media and online channels  – related to the specific business you’re promoting. Things to ask potential newswire vendors include:

1)      What web sites syndicate your content and will display my news?  Pay attention to your industry niche, and ask the vendor to distinguish between people who receive content via RSS and the web sites that have actually agreed to syndicate (and display) content from the newswire.

2)      How do you measure online distribution, and what type of reporting will I receive?  Ask questions about what the numbers mean.  Some numbers, like “impressions,” describe potential audience, not actual views of the press release.

3)      Which media do you reach, and how?  Drill into how the vendor reaches the media that are of most importance to you. Don’t forget niche industry media and bloggers! They are important sources of influence.

4)      How do you measure media activity, and what type of reporting will I receive? It’s always helpful to ask vendors what reporting they provide. Ideally, the reporting should match or describe the distribution you’re purchasing.

Other factors to consider:

  • Web site traffic: Compare the web site traffic and search engine referrals each vendor’s web site receives.  These numbers will reveal which newswire have stronger web sites – which delivers more visibility for your message.  Don’t assume the larger, more well established wires are lacking in online exposure. In most cases, they actually provide more visibility and have stronger web sites than newer, web-only companies.
  • Social media: Look at social media presence, and the social shares of press releases generated by the vendor .
  • Editing & SEO: The degree to which press releases are edited before they are distributed also varies by provider. Some provide no editing; some just check spelling; others do a full edit, finding and fixing mistakes in press releases, and may even provide SEO tips, too.

Dig deeper into pricing and options

All of the wires offer different price structures. Don’t assume that the biggies like PR Newswire and Business Wire can’t compete with smaller wires – we all offer packages ideal for small business PR efforts, as well as programs for agencies, public companies and a host of other kinds of organizations and enterprises.  Once you have zeroed in on the vendor offering the distribution that is best aligned with your objectives, talk to one of their people about which service levels make the most sense for your organization.

Guide to sharing your press release

This simple guide will help you prepare all that you need for distributing your press release: Quick & Easy Guide to Sharing Your Press Release with the World

In addition to working for PR Newswire for almost 18 years, author Sarah Skerik also spent time with Reuters and the City News Bureau of Chicago.  She got her start in news distribution at age 14, as a paper girl for the Burlington HawkEye, Iowa’s oldest newspaper.

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