When Herbert Muschel launched PR Newswire in 1954 and Lorry Lokey started Business Wire in 1961, having such ready access to newsrooms was a big deal for companies wanting to get their messages out.
When Herbert Muschel launched PR Newswire in 1954 and Lorry Lokey
started Business Wire in 1961, having such ready access to newsrooms was
a big deal for companies wanting to get their messages out.
Today there are so many channels - faxes, e-mail and (need we say it?)
the Web - for distributing press releases and other information that the
major newswires have had to constantly add new services to stay
And they are staying relevant. Waving everything from vertical marketing
schemes to 51 flavors of multimedia, wire services are tripping over
each other chasing PR dollars. The trick for the pursued PR
professional, however, is to work with the wires to select the right
tools for each campaign.
The many services newswires are packaging for clients include customized
distribution, streaming and archived multimedia, e-monitoring and
measuring, database access, Web posting, vertical targeting, media
mapping and research, to name a few.
Gregg Castano, Business Wire’s vice president of national sales, says
that in working with the wires, the number one priority ’is identifying
who it is you want to reach in the media and investment community.’
Business Wire, like most distribution services, has developed an
extensive network of distribution points. Once a core audience has been
identified, the PR pro selects - and can even customize - a circuit (or,
media list) for dissemination. These vary from sprawling, mainstream
national and international circuits with cross-demographic appeal to
specific, narrow niche targets, such as trade publications.
Moving beyond the wire
The wires are also getting involved in other types of media.
In October, Business Wire competitor PR Newswire worked with Bozell
Camstra Advertising to orchestrate a media event on behalf of the State
of Pennsylvania to introduce an economic development initiative. ’It
included a live Web-cast from Philadelphia and a simulcast from a remote
location 200 miles away in St. Mary’s,’ says Marlin Collingwood, partner
and director at Bozell Camstra.
Collingwood explains that he first began organizing similar Web-casts
internally but now advises using wire services to help.
’Forget that doing it ourselves costs four times as much,’ says
’Listen, I’m a PR guy, not a tech guy. I don’t want my people worrying
about the technical aspects. Just focus on the content.’
The Reader’s Digest association recently resorted to multimedia channels
to get out an important message. Last month, less than two years after
pulling out of a painful financial tailspin, the company was ready to
report the seventh consecutive quarter of earnings growth.
Minutes after the 4 pm bell sounded on Wall Street on January 26, the
release announcing the earnings was shot out over the wires. Soon after,
PR Newswire began Web-casting a video of Reader’s Digest chairman and
CEO Thomas Ryder discussing the earnings. Simultaneously, a different
version of the speech was broadcast over the company’s intranet to
employees around the world. At 8:30 the next morning Reader’s Digest
held a live teleconference hosted by PR Newswire partner Visual Data
Corp. The price tag for the entire operation: a little under dollars
’Even before the conference call went off, we got eight inches in The
Wall Street Journal, six inches in Bloomberg, The New York Times picked
up the Bloomberg piece and we also got placement in Dow Jones, The New
York Post and Gannet,’ says William Adler, corporate communications
director at Reader’s Digest. ’We never could have gotten that with just
e-mails or faxes. And imagine how much advertising would have cost for
that level of exposure.’
Other newswires are specializing in specific vertical marketing.
’For our 2,300 clients, we distribute targeted company news
announcements over the Internet,’ says Amy Orebaugh, PR manager at
InternetWire. ’Current vertical channels include technology,
business/finance, entertainment, travel/leisure, health/lifestyle,
education, medical/biotech, food, legal, government, nonprofit
organizations and sports.’
In addition, wires have realized they can make money offering PR pros
ways to extend the scope and shelf life of their presentations. These
services include everything from online archiving of multimedia, as with
Business Wire’s Newstream.com service, to PR immortality in
’In this, the day and age of the recurring Lexis-Nexis syndrome, it’s
absolutely critical that you get your information entered into
databases,’ says Jeff Eller, managing director at New Jersey-based
public affairs agency Public Strategies. ’Really, the best way to do
that is with US Newswire and the other wires.’
The next generation of reporters
As PR professionals demand more for their clients’ money, newswires
continue to expand their product lines. The industry will likely see
more deals like PRN’s recent acquisition of Internet monitoring service
eWatch from WAVO Corp., initiating an aggressive push beyond its core
electronic distribution service.
’We use both (PRN and eWatch), so for us it’s a natural pairing in terms
of coordinating the front-end distribution and the back-end monitoring,’
says Jon Austin, managing director of corporate communications at
All of this technology is just a sampling of what’s to come - with many
PR professionals already bracing for the future.
’I think we’re going to have to start paying attention to the next
generation of reporters and the tools they’ll use,’ says Public
’Just look at the hand-held wireless devices like the BlackBerry and the
Palm 7 (which allow journalists to receive media alerts from
The next wave of reporters is going to be virtual and we’ve got to be
ready for them.’
DOS AND DON’TS
1 Define the target audiences you need to reach.
2 Use multimedia offerings - including photos, graphics, audio and
video - with text announcements.
3 Make sure your press releases are reaching the databases.
4 Write clear and compelling headlines and lead paragraphs to
distinguish your release from the 50 others on the editor’s desk.
1 Buy national distribution from a wire if your campaign is local; don’t
overexpose a local news release by sending it out across the
2 Be afraid to ask questions; the reps at the wire services are there to
3 Forget to include after-hours or weekend contact information on
4 Spam journalists with too many press releases.