Review of Online News Release Distribution Services

NOTICE: This review is now out of date!  Please check out my updated review for 2010:

News Release Distribution Review 2010

I read recently that the online news release distribution business is booming, and that certainly explains the explosion in the number of companies jumping into the fray. Generally speaking, online release distribution services take your release, post it on their site, and then distribute it via RSS feed to other sites that use the releases for content. Other services also distribute your release directly to reporters via different means. Communications professionals use online news distribution for many different reasons, but they generally fall into two categories…

1) Media relations professionals want to put the release in front of reporters, via distribution service reporter feeds.
2) SEO PR professionals want to put the release in front of consumers and build backlinks, via distribution service news RSS feeds

So, which is the best place to distribute your news releases to reach the above goals? Below is a review of what I consider the best of the best, both free and paid. Feed free to add your own via comments!

PR Newswire
News feed distribution: $180 and up
Free option: None

PR Newswire is the granddad of the group, starting out more or less as a way to distribute your release directly to reporters via old fashioned newswires. They’re still the best at getting your releases in front of mass numbers of journalists. Releases placed on PRN not only appear online, but also are distributed via a portion of the Associated Press Newswire. PRN also has lists of reporters who receive news on selected industries via email.

Where PR Newswire falls short is search engine optimization. They just don’t seem to understand optimizing online news releases. They will still get you a number of links due to being an industry giant, however, they could be better. An option is available to have PRN optimize your release, but I wouldn’t recommend it. To take advantage you must first purchase their top distribution, which costs a minimum of $680.

PRWeb
News feed distribution: $80 and up
Free option: None

PRWeb was the first release distribution service to fully embrace news release optimization, or at the very least they were the one who promoted it best. Until last fall they had a free option that was outstanding, but it was eliminated shortly after they were purchased by Vocus. These days they have essentially three pricing levels – $80, $120, and $200. Different services are available at the different levels, but all three include some type of news feed distribution. A new product was announced last month that offers distribution via the same Associated Press wire that PR Newswire uses. This “Media Visibility” package includes online distribution as well as the media distribution, and costs $360.

Releases on PRWeb are more fully optimized for search engines and social media than any I’ve found. They include features such as links to social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Technorati, category listings, and a proprietary trackback system. If approved, your release appears on PRWeb’s sister site, eMediawire, which automatically gives you a second backlink. Their stats at the $120 and $200 level are impressive as well. One irritation I do have with them is that at the $80 and $120 pricing levels there is a two day delay before your release is distributed.

PRLeap
News feed distribution: $50 and up
Free option: Available
DISCONTINUED
PRLeap essentially wants to be PRWeb. It’s not a bad thing to desire, as PRWeb has been very successful. However, they just don’t seem to get there. Their pricing is good, but my experience is that link building via PRLeap isn’t as affective as PRWeb. One huge advantage they do have is that they have a free option. I do recommend taking advantage of that, as posting is quick and easy. Free releases have reasonably unobtrusive ads placed on them. Anchor text links are available starting at $20, however at that level the release is placed on the PRLeap site, but not distributed via news feeds.

[Edited September 2, 2008: PRLeap discontinued their free option effective the first of this year.  Their paid options are $49, $99, and $149 … with different options available for each.  I can’t believe I missed the elimination of their free option, but it’s probably because I haven’t used PRLeap for quite a while.  I was actually planning to try it out tomorrow, given my distaste with the changes at PRLog, but if I’m going to pay for a release I’m going to pay for PRWeb.  At this moment, I’m considering a switch over to using 24-7 Press Release (see below) when I’m only planning to post in one place.]

PRLog
News feed distribution: Free
Free option: Available (ads included on releases)

A new entrant into the field, PRLog is quickly making a reputation for a free way to create a quality backlink. My experience with the service is that releases posted on their site are always indexed very high by Google. Recently I had a free PRLog release actually rank above a paid PRLeap release on Google News! My theory on this is that it’s because PRLog has a .org URL instead of the .com you would expect. As you may know, .org addresses are automatically given special consideration by the search engines. Regardless, the site provides outstanding performance for a free service. I haven’t noticed a large number of additional backlinks created by using PRLog, but a top ranking on Google News will do that for itself for many searches.

With every release, PRLog includes links to bookmark on social media sites like Digg and Technorati. They also give you the option of linking to long URLs that include your release title, or non-optimized URLS that are slightly easier to remember. PRLog also allows you to upload a logo or image for your release.

[Updated August 13, 2008: I’ve posted a couple of releases on PRLog lately, and frankly I’m not liking the direction this service is going.  The site is looking rather “spammy” these days, and they’re now accepting job listings in addition to news releases.  Not good.  I’m still thinking about it, but it looks as though PRLog may be losing grip on its “favorite” status.]

Express Press Release Distribution
News feed distribution: Free
Free option: Available

Express Press Release offers free release distribution with no frills and no links included.  They also have $29 distribution that includes link activation and improved placement on the site. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never used the pay service. However, despite the lack of links I’ve actually found good search results for their free service. Two releases I placed their for my PR firm have popped up for my primary search target for months.

24-7 Press Release
News feed distribution: $45 and up
Free option: Available (ads included on releases)

Like Express Press Release, I have only used the free option on 24-7 Press Release. However, the results have been good. Generally my releases have been indexed on Google News, and some have ended up on the news site Topix. 24-7 is trying to nudge into the PR Newswire world by offering what they call “Mass Media Distribution” for $299 (releases with more than 375 words cost more). This service claims direct distribution to trade publications, as well as 80,000 individual journalists. If anyone has tried this out, let me know how it worked for you!

PR News Now
News feed distribution: Free
Free option: Available (ads included on releases)

I hesitated to include this one because it has the appearance of a spam site, to be honest. However, I’ve used the site and found that my releases there do rank for target searches. Releases posted on their site are littered with ads, and they don’t look terribly professional. But, for SEO purposes, they’re beneficial.

[Update from 2/14/08: I’ve been meaning to post for a while that you may actually find your PRWeb releases popping up on PR News Now, much to the chagrin of the PRWeb folks.  PR News Now is apparently taking PRWeb feeds and reposting them without attribution and sometimes without even including the links.  I’ve decided I’m staying away from this service.]

Others:
Wikio: A site built specifically for people to post articles and releases. It’s painfully easy to use.
SearchWarp: More for articles than news releases but, at least with the way I write, it’s not tough to turn a release into something that looks like an article.
I-Newswire: Another site much like PRLog, 24-7 Press Release, and PRLeap. I’ve had fairly good results posting free releases here.

There are many, many, many others. But, which are the best? Here are the Media Relations & SEO PR Blog Best Bets:

For reporter distribution: PR Newswire
Despite being chocked full of news releases, PR Newswire actually has a reputation among journalists as being a good place to find story leads.

For link building: PRWeb
No one beats PRWeb for the number of links generated from one release. Period.

For free release distribution: PRLog
I’ve been extremely impressed with the tools offered by PRLog, and the results I’ve gained by using them. I have a sneaking suspicion they’re going to launch a paid service soon, and I’ll be trying it out.

As I said earlier, I’d love to hear about your success stories using services I didn’t mention. Lay them on me in comments!

Comments

Comments for this post

  1. Steve Mullen says:

    Sure thing — I’d love to hear about it.

    FYI for everyone — I’m going to completely redoing this review NEXT WEEK. It will go out as a podcast first on Startup BizCast, and will be converted to a post here afterward.

  2. Thanks so much for this valuable post! I have read every word.

    I’m a big believer in PRWeb, having turned to Mario a number of times for assistance.

    I recently met with CNW (www.newswire.ca) regarding press release distribution for my clients. I would be very interested in your thoughts on this service.

  3. Steve Mullen says:

    Glad it helped, Louise.

    I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know a thing about CNW. I looked over their site and their offerings appear to be very deep — almost comparable with PRWeb or PR Newswire. But, I can’t speak to their effectiveness.

    TO EVERYONE: An updated version of this review is coming out VERY soon!

  4. I just came upon your reviews and want to thank you. Also, I’d
    like your overview of another distribution site called PR.com.

  5. Steve Mullen says:

    Hi Andrew,

    You’re welcome, and stay tuned. The updated review I’m working on does include PR.com.

  6. Steve Mullen says:

    IMPORTANT UPDATE:

    On October 23, 2008 I posted a FULLY UPDATED review on this blog. Click to read the updated review of online news release distribution services!

  7. James Lee says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your fantastic review. I have been trying to find a reliable PR resource for sometime now and I appreciate your advice.

    I am actually looking for a good PR release website where i can pay for a subscription for unlimited press releases. I googled some sites and some of these came up:

    1. emailwire.com
    2. pressmediawire.com

    They claim to distribute to major new agencies as well as to journalist. Has anyone of you tried these and works?

    Thanks a lot!
    James

  8. Steve Mullen says:

    @James: Sorry, but I’m not familiar with those two outlets. If I hear anything I’ll post it at the updated version of this review: http://tinyurl.com/5q9kvz

  9. Akbar Pirani says:

    Just wondering if any of you know a service that can help me issue a press release in other languages. I want to issue a press release in Spanish and French. Thanks in advance for your help:)

  10. Tammy says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you very much, I am just looking for a press release distribution site, I have just contacted PRnewswire,and found it is a nice site,but it is a bit expensive, I came here and found more people like PRweb. can you take some time to review PRnewswire? I had some statistics about PRweb and PRnewswire, there are big difference, expecially the google backlink of the two sites.

    Site PR Alexa Compete Rank Link
    Prweb.com 7 10,070, 1,913 587,000
    PRNewswire.com 7 7,646, 1,832 4,980,000

  11. Steve Mullen says:

    Hi Tammy,

    First off, you should follow the link in red at the top of this post. There is an updated version of this review. Second, in that review and in this older one, I did review PR Newswire.

  12. glenn selig says:

    This is not a recent post… but since it turns up well on search engines i’d like to mention that there’s another that was not mentioned: PRNewsChannel http://www.prnewschannel.com. It has developed an impressive list of sites that syndicates its content and offers email distribution in addition to online distribution for backlink purposes.

  13. Robyn says:

    Steve–what do you think about Meltwater Press?

  14. Steve Mullen says:

    Hi Robyn,

    I’m not familiar with them. I looked at their site. Do they offer online release distribution? It appears they have a number of interesting software packages, but I don’t see one that does that.

  15. Marketing says:

    PRLOG is a romanian owned business. 90%+ is really crap as well as i-newswire. If you run a serious business and do not want your content been melted amongst viagra or breast augmentation and other stupid things, I recommend not using these even it is free.

  16. Steve says:

    For press release distribution that’s only online or both online and email to reporters, that’s affordable and offers incredible customer service, check out PR NewsChannel http://www.prnewschannel.com. It was created by journalists… Just my two cents…

  17. I’m having trouble getting my asbestos websites news approved by some of the press release sites.
    Its just that i don’t think we have anything newsworthy to talk about.

    What do you guys think should another medium of SEO would be more appropriate?

  18. Sam Green says:

    Thanks for the list. Another good one I’ve used recently was http://www.pressat.co.uk

    It makes extensive use of social media news releases (SMNR) and was very reasonably priced.

  19. Ross says:

    Thanks for the information. It was extremely helpful and I felt so much better about marketing my book. I decided to try 24-7 -I’ll let you know the status soon.

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