Free News Release Wire Services Are Worth What You Pay for Them

free-stuffI have been using newswire services for as long as I have been doing public relations. I have used BusinessWire, PR Newswire, MarketWire (formerly Internet Wire), and PR Web and have had good results with each in turn, depending on the media and marketing strategy. There are any number of discussion threads among my LinkedIn PR groups asking which is the best service? The answer is, of course, it depends.

One of the real advantages of using wire services is Web distribution and online exposure. The wire services give you reach you can’t get with conventional outreach, including social media. Of course, wire drops can be expensive. The national circuit for the mainstream wire services can be $1,000 or more for a single press release, which is beyond the budget of many smaller companies and start-ups that want the reach but can’t afford it. I advise clients looking to penetrate vertical markets to use a narrower geographic target in order to gain access to the vertical media circuits offered by PRNewswire, BusinessWire, and MarketWire. This can save a lot of money and gives them both media outreach and Web exposure for search engine optimization.

And then there are the clients who can’t afford to make paid wire services a consistent part of their program. I have been working on an alternative strategy with one client who new press announcements on a weekly basis. Paid wire services would break their budget, so we rely on direct media outreach and posts to a number of free wire services like, i-Newswire,, and a host of others. These services have helped with both media and Web exposure, but they come with risks.

A number of these free sites are powered by advertising. Recently, I have had one or two clients come to me asking about the ads that are associated with their news releases. Apparently, some sites are less discriminating than others about the types of ads they will accept, so my clients’ new products may run with an ad for male enhancement solutions or something else unexpected and undesirable. You have to continuously monitor your free news site strategy because terms and conditions are changing all the time. For example, one of my favorite free release sites recently eliminated its free option and now only accepts paid press release distribution.

As with most things, you get what you pay for, so you can’t expect much from a free press release site. However, there are some criteria you can apply to give you greater confidence that you are controlling how your news is seen on the Web. Check to see what the site’s advertising policy is and see what kinds of ads are associated with similar news announcements. See how much control you get over your free news release account, e.g. does it archive your news announcements and give you hit counts and statistics? And monitor your coverage! Be sure you are tracking how your releases are propagating on the Web. When you find that some of your free sites are posting inappropriate ads or your news is appearing on the wrong kinds of Web sites, scratch those free sites from your list.

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