PRs clash with wires over ticker symbols

NEW YORK: An angry battle has developed between PR executives and the newswires over the practice of using public companies' ticker symbols - some with Internet hot links - in news releases.

NEW YORK: An angry battle has developed between PR executives and the newswires over the practice of using public companies' ticker symbols - some with Internet hot links - in news releases.

The practice of including the symbols on news releases - which, when done to excess, is known as 'ticker spam' - is sometimes used to ensure a less well-known company gains promotion by its association with a bigger publicly listed company. But it has sparked a row between PRs and their suppliers, because some suppliers have taken to deleting the symbols where they feel they are excessive.

An account executive at Rubenstein Associates said PR Newswire has arbitrarily deleted stock tickers from submitted press releases on at least three separate occasions. The result, the executive claimed, is clients' press release exposure being limited at the whim of PR Newswire editors. As a result, Rubenstein has started distributing press releases through Business Wire, PR Newswire's main competitor, even though Business Wire has also been known to delete such symbols.

'I've pulled a lot of my business from them,' the executive said, adding that PR Newswire is losing around $5,000 to $6,000 per month in business as a result.

Maureen Blanc, general partner and founder of San Francisco PR firm Blanc & Otus, agreed with the Rubenstein executive: 'It does seem bizarre: you are paying the wire service to run your press release as news.'

PR Newswire said it removes tickers from press releases when the symbols aren't related to the content of the news release. 'We have a policy of eliminating gratuitous inclusion of symbols,' said Ira Krawitz, PR Newswire VP.

She said the policy started earlier this year in response to excessive use of tickers.

Cathy Baron Tamraz, executive vice president at Business Wire said: 'If the symbols are appropriate and relate to the story we will leave them in there.'.

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