Trip-Wires 1 – the (shitty) business of PR newswires

Author // Ben Harrow
Posted in // Blogging, News, Opinion, PR, Web

Tread carefully young one, this is shakey ground.

As Digital Editor at 72Point, the majority of my time is spent selling in editorial and infographics, gathering as many relevant, quality hits on relevant, quality online platforms as is humanly possible.

As part and parcel, I’ve regularly come across the paid-for alternatives to having me buzzing around the office – PR newswires.

The Big Sell

They scream “we push your news to thousands of major news sites, journalists and blogs!”

They bellow “and search engines, don’t forget search engines! We’ll rattle your search ranking up Google and generate hundreds of sales leads”.

Hold on there a minute. You’re saying for a nominal fee, we can distribute any and all our editorial via your newswires, get it in front of journalists and bloggers internationally and drum up leads for our clients?


But I’ll get my coat – you won’t need a digi-guy pinging off e-mails all around the internet, because Magical Newswire Co. will do it all for us!

Suit Guy - get in touch ladies*Ben Harrow is out of office, returning never. Redirect all important e-mails to suit-guy@magicalnewswire.co.*

Get in touch ladies ;)

Now, before I go any further, a disclaimer…

OK, so I’m not saying outright that there is no value in a service like PA (Press Association Newswire) or PR Newswire – they have their strengths, and they have certain kinds of content that they work wonders for in certain situations, but I’ll talk about that later.

I should also note that there is a big difference between a newswire like SWNS or Reuters and the likes of Businesswire or Realwire – the latter is the focus here.

What I’m saying is that I’ve seen a lot of bad practice, and a lot of smoke and mirrors, especially with our style of content, in digital and online PR. And that isn’t right.

Cold, hard, cash.

So, what’s the damage for this kind of service?

Trying to unveil the prices without some contact with the respective sales teams is near impossible, but the brilliant B2B PR Blog has done it for us.

Take Realwire, for example, which is one of the cheaper options available – £125 for a basic release, and £240 to also be sent out on PA. No word limits though, unlike some other newswires.

However, at the higher end of the scale, PR Newswire charge £410 for a basic release (including PA), but their impressive global offering will set you back £3300.

But, to put it bluntly, do you get bang for your buck?

85% of journos can’t be reached by (PR) newswires”

We’re in the business of surveys, so I won’t lie to you – 20 people isn’t many people. But when you call up 20 journos from the likes of The Guardian, The Metro and Techworld, it’s worth lending an ear to.

Basically, B2B PR Blog rang up a heap of journos and asked them if they pick up news from newswires. Only 25% said yes, and of those, two picked out journalistic wires like Reuters and Bloomberg.

So, only 15% would even consider news from a newswire, which is a daunting start.

There may be good reason for this, as is evidenced by more B2B PR Blog research (all the work they did, and are doing, on ‘The Value of Newswires‘ is fantastic, and utterly recommended).

Although a little hostile towards the PA newswire, this section is enlightening when it comes to the process by which PR newswires, like Businesswire and Realwire, “reach 100% of national and major regional newspapers, and every TV and radio station across the UK and Ireland”.

In short, it’s really complicated.

In a-little-less-short, journalists can filter out stories not authored by PA journalists. So, PR newswires that lump content onto PA (for an extra charge) will be put in a stream of content that can easily be removed from view.

As it’s put, again beautifully, by the B2B PR Blog:

“Putting myself in a journalist’s shoes (someone looking for interesting news content for my readers), I probably wouldn’t want to receive these media releases (all sent out via the PA Newswire recently) and would therefore probably filter out commercial content”.

We’ve CRUISED to a new domain destinationContent which commonly includes the likes of:

“Complete Collection of Iconic iPhone 5 Cases Available from OtterBox”

“Another Record Breaking Domain Purchase for www.Cruise.co.uk”

And so on and so forth.

The story so far…

So, to summarise so far, it’s pretty expensive. That’s a fact. Tick.

And although results vary, the promises made of high visibility are, at best, extremely difficult to keep. Tick.

But, there are a number of different reasons for using PR newswires, and occasionally, the results do look reasonably good – some often guarantee hits on the likes of Yahoo! (310m daily readership), and there is plenty of discussion about the ‘SEO benefit’ garnered from these kind of lucratives hits and linkbacks (regardless of whether or not anyone actually *reads* the content).

But that, my learned friends, will be saved for the next post. Hey, I’ve got to save something for next time.

Ben Harrow
Digital Editor

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Comments (2)

  • February 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm |

    Hi Ben, interesting read. We asked over 80 journalists whether and how they used wires. It may be an interesting read for you: http://www.vitispr.com/blog/how-journalists-use-newswires/

    • February 15, 2013 at 8:47 am |

      I did notice this Ranbir during my research- it’s interesting to see, and sadly, the value for newswires that you derived from your research is often in the specific industry wires. Very useful for the right people, but pretty lame in terms of our style of PR!

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We were delighted with the results, and the reports look great. Particularly good to see the infographic work out, as it gives the visual coverage which is very important to the client.


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