Making Sense of News Distribution

    November 14, 2006

Much has been written about the impact of social media on the mainstream media and the advertising industry. We’ve all seen survey-after-survey and study-after-study show declines in readership (and therefore advertising) amongst the print media, local and national broadcast television news, etc.

At the same time, many folks in PR/marketing are trying to figure out what the social media revolution means to them. Some are busy working on so-called blogger relations’ programs, others are creating viral videos for YouTube or working on ways to game Digg and other social news sites. While there are clearly a range of new outlets for certain bit of news,’ there’s also the issue of news distribution and dissemination.

Way back when I started my PR career there weren’t too many options when it came to news distribution-you simply went with one of the large wire services. Today, there are so many options it can be dizzying. With that in mind, we’ve taken an initial stab at breaking down the various news distribution options that have emerged in recent years. This is admittedly not the end-all, be-all list, but hopefully it’s a start-and hopefully your comments and suggestions will help create a useful guide for not only PR and marketing folk, but anyone looking to spread the world about their company or cause.

Old School
This category, by my experience, is the most expensive, offers arguably the widest guaranteed distribution, and for the most part offers the least amount of flexibility in-terms of social media features.

  • Business Wire just this week sent me an email to let me know that “Business Wire’s patented NX system can now transmit your press releases in XHTML style.” Basically, this means I can now include blog-style hyperlinks, or SmartLinks, in my press release (see their example here). I had only one thought: wow, what took so long?!
  • MarketWire is the third-largest “full-service distributor of company press releases and financial news announcements”
  • PR Newswire is the self-proclaimed “global leader in news and information distribution services for professional communicators”

New SchoolThere are a bevy of new-entrants in the news distribution world. These guys offer a wide range of pricing, from free to several hundreds of dollars, provide a relatively wide, mostly online guaranteed distribution, and are social media rich and search engine optimized.

  • Billboard Publicity Wire is part of the PRWeb (see below) family and is optimized for “breaking entertainment and music news”
  • Collegiate Presswire is, as the name implies, a news distribution service focused specifically on college media. Based on personal experience, it works, and works quite well
  • eWorldWire offers targeted, industry-specific distribution and online newsroom creation
  • Press Method says its mission is to “help out the internet community to access to interesting stories happening in the business world”
  • PRWeb is one of the early pioneers of free online and social media-ready press releases. PRWeb offers guaranteed Google/Yahoo! News distribution (at a certain price-point) and offers Technorati tagging, TrackBacks, multimedia options and more
  • PR Zoom is “a free press release & news distribution service to companies, PR agencies, business journalists, freelance writers, news content providers”

Go-it alone
Of course, anyone is free to setup a blog (costs range from free to a few hundred dollars in monthly hosting fees), which, with a little love, can blossom into an efficient, inexpensive and effective way of disseminating news. This is truly one area to watch, particularly if Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz (full disclosure, a Bite client) gets his way.

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Trevor Jonas is an account director at Bite Communications (, a worldwide public relations firm with offices in London, New York, San Francisco and Stockholm. An avid observer of the social media revolution, he can often be found posting about his favorite topics–PR, marketing and news consumption habits–on the Bite blog (