News and PR wire services are among the oldest marketing technology services in the industry. Beginning in the 1950s and ’60s, companies like PR Newswire and Business Wire began improving on the ways press releases were distributed to news media and other outlets.
Today, the wire service sector increasingly overlaps with other press release service solutions like media contact databases, alert software, campaign analytics, content publishing services, and even social media platforms that publish content.
While other marketing technologies have thrived in the digital revolution, news wire services have seen boom and bust, as their businesses have been interrupted by wild swings in media organization, editorial trends, changes in internet use by consumers and businesses, and the function of press releases in business.
As any earned media professional would tell you, the value of press release distribution is no sure thing. Why should any company pay $350 or more per release to have the content distributed to networks that will never care to read it?
Depending on your business, the release topic, your PR goals, and your expectations for impact on lead generation, tools like press release distribution services may or may not be an effective use of your marketing budget.
Let’s take a look at why, and explore some of the most effective ways industrial manufacturing companies can incorporate PR into their overall marketing strategy, especially as an integrated complement to an inbound growth approach.
The Current State of PR Wire Platforms
As you consider your options, it’s important to have a clear picture of the current players in the field, and the tactical use of the press release within an overall marketing strategy.
Media pickups can provide valuable news and trade publication coverage, as well as backlink opportunities that can boost off-page SEO, linking news story pickups back to your website and improving your search engine performance. (Press releases should always incorporate solid SEO writing techniques.) Careful coordination and repurposing of your PR content can also boost its value to your program.
Selecting the right service can help set up your release with exposure to the right distribution channels and networks of people. The 2010s saw major consolidation in news wire services and PR-focused SaaS companies, including consolidations of distribution services and analytics providers. Today, Cision PR Newswire, now the industry’s largest player, sits at the top of the heap after the consolidation of Cision and Vocus and multiple subsequent acquisitions.
But, is biggest always best?
Turns out, in fact, the biggest player isn’t necessarily the highest-rated in terms of customer satisfaction. And since understanding and effectively communicating with your target audience play an outsize role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy, it’s worth investigating the differences between service providers to choose the best fit for your business.
Which PR Distribution Platforms Are at the Top?
According to G2crowd, there are 10 current PR distribution service platforms that form the upper echelon of the category:
- Cision PR Newswire
- PR Underground
This group represents platforms with a diverse array of origins. Unlike the marketing automation sector, which involves companies that mostly started around the same time, these news wire services represent the old and new, with some of the oldest players having absorbed newer ones in recent years.
Your choice of PR platform can make a difference in your ability to target audiences with greater precision and effectiveness, so it’s certainly worth looking beyond the biggest players and considering how all offerings differ.
Reconsidering the Best PR News Wire Rankings
To rank these distribution services, let’s first turn to the data recently published by G2. According to the G2 Grid analysis, three of the platforms we feature are established leaders in the field: Newswire, BusinessWire, and Cision — while iCrowdNewswire is certainly an up-and-comer in the field, with great potential for niche markets.
Newswire: Best in Customer Satisfaction
Now more than a decade into offering PR distribution services in a SaaS platform, Newswire has focused on delivering customer satisfaction to maintain their top rating on G2, as well as high ratings with Capterra and Trustpilot. G2 users cite customer support that, even when users experience frustrations with the interface, made for an overall positive customer experience.
Cision: Best All-in-one Platform
With all of Cision’s acquisitions and merger activity, it’s obvious the platform intends to be the all-in-one provider that PR professionals look for. The platform can be used not only to send out press releases (via PR Newswire), but also to monitor print and online pickups and locate information about media outlets, journalists, and editorial calendars.
One of the reasons Cision should continue to be on your radar is the extension of social and analytics tools into a single platform. As PR, paid media, and social media work more closely together, Cision’s solutions build strong support for more comprehensive communications strategies. G2 reviewers cite the platform’s convenient interface and analytics that report pickups that make it easier to justify the investment.
Business Wire: Best for Bigger Companies
Business Wire, which is under Berkshire Hathaway, has a 50+ year history as a distribution service and is well regarded as having a strong SEO component. Generally speaking, Business Wire is more expensive than other platforms and, to some, it might be considered the enterprise service of the group.
Business Wire’s been heavily praised for its editorial team, which is an important factor when considering any PR platform. Some services have strong in-house teams that edit and provide feedback on PR, which can help to optimize performance. Others don’t, which can speed time to publication, so it’s important to consider which is most important to you. Cision/PR Newswire and Business Wire both have in-house editorial teams to support PR efforts.
iCrowdNewswire: Great for Niche and Geographic Targeting, Plus Actionable Analytics
iCrowdNewswire was founded in 2015 and includes a team of former senior executives of leading newswires. The platform’s aim is to continuously improve the PR distribution process by implementing new, AI-driven technologies as they emerge.
Every release distributed by the network of iCrowdNewswire includes guaranteed placement on more than 320 websites. Day-of distribution reports include links to placements, and seven business days later, customers receive a master distribution report with deep Google analytics, including views and clicks.
News Distribution as Inbound Lead Generation
Given the state of PR today, you want to make sure that a distribution service is worth your money and matches your needs. The best performing platforms are most likely to get your press release into journalists’ hands and onto Google SERPs.
Like paid media, earned media can provide critical support to an inbound marketing plan because it can widen your reach to include potential leads who otherwise might not have seen your website or social media presence. Consider a distribution service, but also consider whether you really need one, given your goals. As PR platforms increase nonsubscription and on-demand options, the cost of distribution can become more affordable and more targeted — which can add up to a perfect combination for industrial manufacturers.
Effective content distribution is absolutely critical if you do integrate PR into your plan, but remember: it’s a supporting effort for your holistic inbound program, and consider subscriptions accordingly.
Learn more about the ways you can use paid media alongside your PR efforts to target and supercharge aspects of your inbound marketing strategy with our Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Paid Media. Click the link below to get started reading now — you can even download your own copy to read offline and share.