There seems to be a clouded understanding and assessment of the uses of PR wires and how they can benefit a business.
Professionals outside of media and digital related jobs can having a passing awareness of a PR wire and will often ask if it is worth considering using one. Indeed there is an inference: can this cover the task of public relations for my business without too much time and effort and of course, cost?
Before I answer that let’s give a brief definition of PR wires
PR wires are websites that will place a press release on their website, sometimes it will be a free service although many of the best charge a fee that can be graded according to the level of service required. This often means that the more you pay, say on a popular PR wire such as PRWeb, the better the release will be distributed and the more links that will be enabled, which pushes traffic and more importantly helps with SEO for your website.
The cost of PRWeb for a good mid-tier service with links is around $200 or £150; there are more advanced services for an additional fee.
It sounds very reasonable. When the subject is covered by PR agencies online it often seems to get a positive assessment without much critcism like this uncritical example.
Let’s be a little more analytical
PR wires are a useful support, an auxiliary, a flying buttress to support the main methods employed by public relations firms.
They will not, by and large, produce much in the way of targeted media coverage. They might be syndicated and appear on many online pages of sites of varying quality and relevance but the chances of a journalist picking up a story are not good.
PR wires are not substitutes for press releases sent to well defined personalised lists of journalists.
PR wires will not replace articles, comment pieces, profiles, case studies, personal contacts or a phone call. They will not generate speaking opportunities. And they will not add to social media relations.
A mute point is the PR wire service might use Twitter to push clients’ press releases, but this is going to be hopelessly untargeted in most cases.
A good PR company might use a PR wire if the release is a little bit of a long-shot, there is more pressure to produce results than usual, and so it is worth a punt.
What PR wires do well is generate and build links – and as links help build a website’s power it is worth using wires.
PRWeb can be good for producing links on everything from a site of dubious quality to Yahoo!
If a client realises the benefit of a link – it should be the PR telling them why it is important – then PR wires are part of the PR output of any ambitious company.
Yes there will be views on the PR wire’s own website where it displays new releases, possibly a few hundred, possibly many more, there might be the odd magazine that will use the release but it is the links that the real value lies.
So use PR wires but with an understanding of their benfits and limitations.