A reader writes . . .
"Love your blog, your approach and resources! Do you have a post that addresses a comparison of the PR services? We're looking at PRWeb vs. PR Newswire and which might be the best for developing an ongoing relationship. We're launching a new e-commerce site in a couple months."
When I got this request, it was a stiff reminder to keep a more vigilant watch on the online PR front. Although my experience is fairly recent and relevant, it was not market-fresh.
Because I like to be working with knowledge that has no expiration date, I delved into this request to find out what I would recommend right now.
The last sentence here - we're launching a new e-commerce site in a couple of months - tells me that this company will want to develop a prominent online presence. Online PR is a great way to roll up SEO, messaging, public relations, social media and analytics all into one affordable initiative. So, dear reader you're on the right track!
But, how different is online PR now than say - even six months ago?
The biggest change is the move to catch up to Shift Communication's social media news release format first released in May 2006.
Much of what I do when I talk about online PR in speaking engagements is to highlight the dramatic changes from the typical and traditional double-spaced release most of my audience is familiar with.
If you're thinking about getting into the online PR game, you'll want to explore the new rules first. Want to know what makes a Social Media Release Social? Brian Solis will tell you. And, Shift Communications will show you how Social Media Services Wire Compare.
To catch up on the latest with wire services, I went back to my inbox and searched for updates. Not the most formal research method, but the one closest to each wire service's customer community relations.
We have accounts with all services mentioned. [Note to readers: please feel free to correct, update and add on - I'm sure there's much more to this story.]
Communication with Agencies
In checking my email archives, it's safe to say that PR Newswire and MarketWire have big plans for 2008. PRWeb? No emails in the last few months - other than to confirm receipt of payment or editorial approval. To be fair, PRWeb posts updates to my inbox on their site. The other services have sales reps that keep me posted both via email and occasional phone calls.
Although I've wanted to test this service, our clients prefer more cost competitive distribution routes. Maybe 2008 will be the year that we launch this relationship.
One of PR Newswire's email updates took me to a page with three videos. Michael Pranikoff, director of emerging media for PR Newswire, narrates tutorials on search engine optimization, social bookmarking and RSS. Worth watching, the videos explain each technique in plain English.
Although I watched all three of Michael's videos, I'll only share a few notes from his SEO video . . .
o In the old days, maybe 5 years ago, news came from journalists; today the mix is: 50% media-50% search - that's why it's important to optimize for both
o sync up with ad/marketing re: keywords
o think about both front-end and back-end optimization - html coding and metadata
o go to Google Trends to see what's being searched for more often
o go to technorati.com and enter the press release URL to check out blog reactions
These tips work no matter what service you're using.
ProfNet, a PR Newswire service that connects experts to journalists, is one plus no other service has, which is reason enough to go with PR Newswire for many of my PR peers.
Suggestion: Upload the videos to YouTube and Google Video - they're really good and need to be found!
Disclosure: Marketwire is a client of one of our clients.
We have to agree that Marketwire is a good fit for them: long-lasting, high-ranking Google results vaulted our client from virtual obscurity to positions number 4, 5, and 6 on page one for their most valuable keyword search term.
Stats from Marketwire's 02.07.08 email . . .
FACT: 77% of people consider blogs a good way to get information about a company.
FACT: 3 out of 4 journalists look to blogs for story ideas and insight.
FACT: 9 of the top 20 US sites are social media sites such as MySpace®, YouTube™, Digg™ and Blogger®.
Marketwire's introducing a Social Media 2.0 release format that goes out to sites like iTunes, Second Life, Twitter, Pheedo and Photo Bucket, YouTube. Could be fun, but make sure your media matches your message.
Watch for monthly special offers like Marketwire's February Make a Difference promotion. You get to expand your reach for free to ethnic markets in Canada AND Marketwire makes a donation on your behalf to a charity of your choice.
PRWeb's video, posted on YouTube, is a quick and entertaining introduction to the online PR concept.
Prior to 2008, PRWeb was our first choice for most clients: low-cost distribution, rich stats, attractive, predictable A+ results in search rankings, but not with journalists.
While we write lively releases, we stop short of writing ad copy. If it bounces out locally, why would a journalist be more likely to grab the story on the web? Telling customer stories is one way to add a more promotional/persuasional tone without going overboard into the ad zone.
As far as passing the news through goes, every time I needed editorial assistance and contacted PRWeb's team, they were most helpful. We even tell our clients when our releases get a 5 - may be silly, but we want them to know they have a quality product checked by an editor.
What I do have a problem with is the change in PRWeb's stats reporting. It may be me, but it looks like the counter now turns off at 30 days. Which is weird . . . because the clock is still running on older ones that date back to 2004.
RE: new news, the site's latest updates leave off at August 2007. Vocus uploaded the YouTube video in September 2007.
Suggestion: Communicate with your account holders more frequently - come up with updates that go beyond service like number of releases, testimonials, case studies, etc. While it's great to see Joe at conferences, it would be nice to hear from the company, or Joe, a bit more often.
Best for Search Engine Optimization Results in 2007: PRWeb
In a Google search for "PR Newswire PRWeb," most of the results turned up articles from SEO blogs like Big Oak and Slicksurface that recommended choosing PRWeb for its favorable SEO results. In one comparison, PRWeb came up packed with Google Alerts.
Although PR Newswire's reach and ProfNet capabilities sound attractive, most of our small business/entrepreneur clients want to minimize the distribution budget.
Because PRWeb offers an all-inclusive approach, this service was our first choice prior to 2008. Now that the stats seem to stop at 30 days out, I'm not as enamored with the service as I once was. I liked being able to continually track keyword searches and reads over time. Still, being able to send a client a .pdf of PRWeb's Executive Summary with stats is impressive - and quick!
In comparing Marketwire to PRWeb, we found comparable Google News and Yahoo! News results, but Marketwire's reporting stopped after one report. So, we went with PRWeb for longer-term tracking. Maybe we'll have to revert to our secondary back up, in-house stats tracking, or become less fanatical about checking.
Where to Start, How to Keep Going
Successful web PR campaigns are often prolific. Beginning at $80 per release, PRWeb is a cost-effective option. Start here. When you need a more defined media list, work with an agency or call each service and ask for their pricing and distribution options.
You might also want to check with journalists you know who can tell you which wires they read. Whatever you do, keep the news flowing. Our clients' best results come from making news - over and over and over again. That's why I wish one of these services would offer a volume pricing distribution package.