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Last week somebody asked me about whether they should invest money in putting a press release out via a newswire service.

Newswires are REALLY expensive and the lovely folks who run them make you pay for distribution by the word. This is a pretty archaic way of doing things (and was the metric by which Chuck Dickens got paid) but it is really good for providers. In general, wire release are not worth the money. Here is why:

– On average, hundreds of items go out over the wire each day.  This means, either you better be news (you probably aren’t) or you better have a shit hot PR person writing a hyper-catchy release (you probably don’t and if you did the tendency for organizations to involve everyone and their grandma in press release editing means that even if Hemingway writes your releases they’ll get watered down).

– What you throw out over the wire into the morass of white noise at a cost of too much money can easily be distributed via other means. You can buy a damn media list or a database that can pump releases about how awesome you are out the door.

– The best PR does not come from mass blasts. It comes from one to one, slow and steady, relationships and individualized pitches. Purveyors of wire services may try to tell you otherwise – they lie.

– Social media’s one to one power is reducing the need for wire services. Instead of blasting one to a million you can slowly create a legion of loyalists who spread the gospel for you. Much better that than someone reading something by some reporter they’ve never met. Building community via this channel takes an ice age though so the temptation to blast over the wire may take precedence.

There is one thing to remember for sure. Wire services are now offering to build and distribute social media releases – but DON’T buy. Why?

First PR professionals, myself included, are still not sure about the power of the social media release. The shit looks cool but does it really get more/better coverage? The jury is still out.

– You can build a multimedia press release (OK, so it does not have features like “comments” but embed the thing in your blog and you can hear what the people think) for far cheaper and make it sendable via Outlook. We do this at my firm so you can too.

– Theoretically, “online reporters” are a key target for the social media release. However, I’d be surprised if anyone but big time bloggers check the wire for SMR’s. Online reporters at major news organizations do but you can get them multimedia content at a fraction of the cost. The guys at Inside PR have asked about access bloggers have to wire services -they’re stuff is worth a listen.

So, when you think you need the wire, pause. Then breathe. Then ask yourself, ‘Is what I am telling the world newsworthy enough, worth the cash, and gonna be packaged well enough to catch journalists’ attention’.

You will likely end up going other routes I think.

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