Web site anyone? PRWeb.com looks for free PR in trade

RENTON, WA: If you’ve never heard of PRWeb.com, you’re not alone. But the site, which offers a free online news release distribution system, is on the block, and its owners are searching for a large hi-tech PR firm to take substantial ownership in exchange for PR services.

RENTON, WA: If you’ve never heard of PRWeb.com, you’re not alone. But the site, which offers a free online news release distribution system, is on the block, and its owners are searching for a large hi-tech PR firm to take substantial ownership in exchange for PR services.

RENTON, WA: If you’ve never heard of PRWeb.com, you’re not alone.

But the site, which offers a free online news release distribution

system, is on the block, and its owners are searching for a large

hi-tech PR firm to take substantial ownership in exchange for PR

services.



According to David McInnis, managing editor of PRWeb.com and co-founder

of site owner The Digerati Group, the company seeks an agency to help

make the site more relevant to the PR community. The company hopes to

receive free PR services for a new dot-com venture it will launch later

this year.



’We’re not a PR company, we’re a technology company,’ he said. ’We

launched the site because we wanted to put out a press release and

didn’t want to pay dollars 500 to PR Newswire. The concept was to give

companies like ours, which had a non-existent PR budget, a chance to get

their message out.’



In addition to the distribution service, the site contains an online PR

agency directory. McInnis claims the site is visited as many as 500,000

times per month and has helped more than 5,000 companies - including

Disney Interactive, AAA and IBM - deliver their news releases.



As for why an agency might want to own the site, McInnis said it could

prove useful as a branding vehicle. He added that while many of the

companies that use the service do not currently work with agencies, they

might be more likely to retain the firm that owns the site once they set

aside funds for PR.



PR pros, however, are not sold on the potential arrangement.



’It seems that there’s a bit of a conflict of interest,’ said Tony

Sapienza, president of Miller/Shandwick Technologies. ’Business Wire and

PR Newswire are places any agency can go to release information. But if

the source of information was owned by an agency, I wonder if other

agencies would use it. I’m not sure how long we’d use Business Wire if

it was owned by Fleishman-Hillard.’



Still, Mara Bartucca, a principal at The Horn Group, said she wouldn’t

be surprised if the site found a buyer. As for potential conflicts of

interest, she said, ’If you take a look at Copithorne & Bellows and

Brodeur, which fall under the Omnicom umbrella, they compete with

clients all the time. If it’s a business transaction, they might be able

to keep church and state separate.’



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