PR NewspaperPublic relations wire services like Businesswire, Marketwired or PR Newswire pre-date the Internet, but they hardly resemble their early versions.  Back in the day, they were born to feed releases directly to wire terminals in news media news rooms and investment news services like Dow Jones and Bloomberg.  A major source of their business was—and still is—publicly held companies required by securities laws to release news that materially affects their stocks.  They also have a long history with political campaigns in need of a way to reach news outlets quickly.

The online world has created a greatly expanded role for PR wire services.  No longer are they just vehicles to deliver news releases to editors’ desks, though they still fill that need with national, regional and industry-specific wires that target beat reporters.  Now some services also deliver news releases directly to the desktops of consumers and other targeted audiences.

Today the services themselves have become a news medium in their own right.  Their offerings are carried in their entirety and verbatim by thousands of mainstream news media ranging from the Wall Street Journal to local TV stations and business weeklies.  Though most traditional news outlets segregate news releases from PR services on their back pages, PR news services are providing them free content that can build their SEO in the eyes of Google and Alexa.  In turn, those who use PR news services also benefit from the high readership of traditional sites because their releases will receive elevated status from search engines.

PR wire services also deliver news releases directly to social media like Twitter and Facebook as well as leading bloggers and reporters who work for local and a national real estate online news outlets like RE Technology, Inman News, and RIS Media.  Blogs and sites that carry news content, which in real estate may include local brokerages, MLSs, Realtor associations and lenders, publish news releases for the same reasons as traditional sites: to augment their offerings and build their SEO.

The expanded role for these services has also created opportunities for new services, especially those that specialize in working with social media.  Communicators have a range of new choices; selecting the right service depends on their needs, including the audiences they want to reach, the content they want to deliver and, of course, their budgets.

Here are some tips on how to maximize the dollars you spend on PR wire services.

Quality is more important than ever. The expanded role of PR newswires makes the quality of your new release and message and how it is received even more import since thousands of potential customers, as well as journalists, might read your release.  The more it sounds like an advertisement, the less effective it will be.  Unless you have PR professionals on staff, consider using a professional public relations writer.  A well-crafted release that attracts attention among the many releases carried by a service will be a few dollars well-spent. The fees are normally $600 per release for a leading news wire.

Save money by editing for length.  PR wire services charge by the word.  Most offer a set price for a relatively low maximum number of words; then they turn on the meter for longer releases.  Make every word count and weigh the extra cost against the strategic importance of words that push your release over the limit. For search engine optimization purposes, it is important that your news release be at least 300 words.

Do your research.  Take some time to check out potential vendors.  Do your own searches to find out where releases are used.  Talk to reporters and bloggers you know to find out what services they use.  Weigh reach with positioning.  Services that specialize in residential real estate will have more real estate news on a daily basis—and thus are more frequently accessed by reporters and bloggers who cover real estate.  Here at WAV Group Communications, we use a service called Meltwater that not only publishes the release on the wire, but also allows us to email the release to journalists directly – its like a CRM service for PR people like us. It also allows us to track the publishing of the release – something we call clipping.

Assess and compare results.  There are advantages to working with a particular service, in addition to volume discounts.  They will quickly get to know you and your priorities.  Services may also create a “library” for your releases where reporters can find past releases and background on your company.  However, before you settle in with one vendor, you might try out several with different releases to see who deliver the best results.  Many services are expert at creating attractive and convincing reports that you can pop into a PowerPoint or email to your boss, fellow employees, customers or investors.  Augment their reports with your own research.  Check on traffic and pick-up generated by different services—but keep in mind that some releases are often more newsworthy than others.  Results may differ based as much on what you had to say as the service that you used.

Good luck with using PR wires.  By beginning with an understanding of your strategic PR goals and focusing on results and accountability, you can use their services to give your PR program a competitive advantage at a cost you can afford. Your best bet is to contact WAV Group Communications for a proposal on how we can effectively manage your press releases.