PR review: who are the market leaders with online press releases?

The digital advertising landscape is changing rapidly, with companies investing more in online PR and content marketing as opposed to outdated SEO ...
PR review: who are the market leaders with online press releases?

The digital advertising landscape is changing rapidly, with companies investing more in online PR and content marketing as opposed to outdated SEO and expensive pay per click. Here is a full review of the market leading platforms for online press releases, where we discuss what they’re doing right:

Given the impact of on the media industry, it makes sense to use an online marketing agency or PR platform with sufficient skills and media contacts to carefully navigate the legal landscape to yield best results and ROI. This happens easily when your agency is well connected and capable of arranging three types of press results, including “editorial” news articles, officially formatted “press releases” and off course other types of influencer marketing such as guest posting. There is a distinct difference between each of the aforementioned news types – something you should know well before mapping out an annual media plan.

A press release is a brief, accurate and informative piece of news information aimed at specific media targets. This includes media owners, journalists and even government agencies that can redistribute the news or investigate if further to add an amplified result to the original content based on their own findings and views. Raising interest from relevant parties requires careful copywriting skills and information as to who, what and where the news title pertains to. It is typically written by citing executive quotes, in the third-person and relevant sources in the form of links.

Press releases are incredibly affordable these days and provide a high ROI. It can shrink the gap between paying $25 000 for one Forbes article, at their advertising department who will mark the content as sponsored, and between $1000 and $4000 to reach a ton of journalists who MAY write for sites like Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, CNN.com, CBS, NBC, Wired.com, The Harvard Business Review, Mashable, The Economist, The Washington Post, Fox News, and so forth. The only issue is that paid advertising is the ONLY form of press engagement that can be guaranteed, whereas a “press release”, is an unofficial yet powerful backdoor channel where ethical providers will technically not guarantee results. Disruptors like Adriaan Brits the CEO of Sitetrail have used their connections and media wire technology to drive that cost down to as little as $199.

The media connections of the platform owner, coupled with the efficiency of a typical ex-journalist team, is something that drives the best results for the industry. Companies, for example, who make use of offshore writers with no media connections, typically fail to yield good results. Some platforms take care of distribution only, some platforms only do press release writing and formatting – and then off course, a hybrid platform can take care of both writing and distribution, typically in a shorter timeframe as it is all orchestrated from one closely knit team with a streamlined process.

Sitetrail is used by other PR agencies, web design companies, all of Silicon Valley and even government agencies. It also has a special connection with HNWI’s to take care of reputation management and is the go to company for complex political campaigns and online reputation issues. The CEO is known to have “unrivalled media connections” and lives by the “24 hour rule” for service delivery.

In-house ex-journalist writers? Yes. US/UK journalists:  a multi-sector in-house team.

Official platform? Yes it is also a PR platform for press release submission.

Media owner? Yes the company owns unique media working alongside mainstream media.

Pricing: $199  Currently the industry leader on price.

PRNewswire is a press release platform that distributes content to media owners and provide writing services where needed. It is well-known among agencies and has a good reach.

In-house ex-journalist writers? Yes. US writers.

Official platform? Yes it is also a PR platform for press release submission.

Media owner? No, but they connect clients with a wide range of media providers.

PRWeb is essentially a media platform where other writers submit their press releases. It is owned by CISION and is a B2B organization, dealing mainly with agencies, but also with certain corporates. It is a true multi-sector press submission service.

In-house ex-journalist writers? NO. They do not produce content or pitches.

Official platform? Yes it is used to submit press releases.

Media owner? No, but it connects you to several media sites.

Pricing: $400+ When factoring in content writing of at least $200, it is a more pricey option.

Although not a writing platform with any connected journalists, it is widely seen as a popular choice for agencies who produce their own content. CEO David Rothstein is highly respected with agency clients.

In-house ex-journalist writers? No writing offered.

Official platform? Yes. Used for content submission and distribution.

Pricing: $249 – After paying the platform $49 for distribution, content writing costs around $200.

Their slogan is “by journalists for journalists”. They are more expensive than the price leader Sitetrail, but delivers a good match in terms of service and quality. It is a good rival to other platforms in terms of distribution parity.

In-house ex-journalist writers? Yes. “By journalists for journalists”.

Official platform? Yes. Suitable for news release submission.

Pricing: $300+ ($250 For writing only – then distribution has to be added.)

Scripted is a content marketing agency, not a press release submission platform. It has varying prices on content marketing and formatted press releases, often used by in-house teams and other marketing agencies.

In-house ex-journalist writers? Yes. Excellent writers, some of the best in the industry.

Official platform? NO. Cannot assist with submission.

Pricing: $ Unclear pricing guidelines. Distribution needs to be paid with another provider.

Whereas most conventional PR outreach professionals tend to use Linkedin and their email lists, Prezzly is used by some PR firms to better manage their contacts. It is often mistaken for a “press release platform” but is actually an agency tool. A very popular tool indeed.

This company has a small segment of the market and is a reliable provider to repeat clients. It is not the biggest nor does it have the widest coverage, but it can get the job done quickly if you have a press release ready to submit.

In-house ex-journalist writers? No writing services.

Official platform? Yes. Limited but reliable coverage.

Media owner? No, except for content on PR.com

Pricing: $260 – A $60 submission fee plus an average of $200 to write a good news release.

This is a small niche operator with loyal clients. A bit on the expensive side but still more affordable than providers like WPP and Havas – for the same level of service. The company seems to have good online reviews with no complaints or scam alerts.

In-house ex-journalist writers? Yes. A reliable and diverse in-house team.

Official platform? Yes it is used for PR submission to media sites.

Pricing: $349+ For both writing and distribution, pricing starts at $349.

SBWire aims to sell a monthly subscription deal starting at $59/month but it has no writers. It is capable of reaching a few limited press targets and augments company services via “ReleaseWire”.

In-house ex-journalist writers? No. Does not offer any press release writing.

Official platform? Yes. Used by agencies for submission.

Pricing: $ – Reasonable submission prices but adds up to $275+ after writing is factored in.

Fiverr is a freelancing platform, not a media owner. It is used by other providers to resell services and adds a 20% commission to all services. It is an impartial observer between buyers and sellers that facilitates any disputes. It is popular with the design and creative community.

In-house ex-journalist writers? The company does not directly employ journalists, but some freelancers are listed on the platform providing both writing and distribution.

Official platform? No. This is an intermediary service.

Media owner? No. But may acquire media in the future as it is an expanding entity.

Pricing: $ varies – All price ranges depending on sellers.

Upwork is a freelancing platform where some ex-journalists write. It has a huge problem in terms of quality as the majority of the workforce is located in Asia (India etc.). Although it is huge, it can easily lead to an undesirable PR disaster. The platform may be better for other things such as web design.

WPP is an expensive high-end provider who subs out a lot of work through a complex internal structure. It is a media brand, so companies should expect to pay a premium for it’s services and expensive London & NYC officers. Mark Read is the CEO who took over from Mr. Martin Sorrell

In-house ex-journalist writers? Yes. Competent teams and good media connections.

Official platform? No, but possibly through it’s complex subsidiaries.

Media owner? No, but possibly through it’s complex subsidiaries. It owns several agencies.

Pricing: $1000+ Expect to pay a premium.

Havas is a mult-national innovative PR, advertising and marketing firm. It is essentially the competitor to WPP, as another expensive high-end provider. The CEO Yannick Bolloré is rather well connected with the media.

In-house ex-journalist writers? Yes. Competent teams and good media connections.

Media owner? It is certainly a media owner through complex structures.

Pricing: $1000+ Expect to pay a premium.

As demonstrated above, freelancing platforms are muscling in on this space – with only a handful of true hybrid providers that can deliver both innovative writing, alongside press release distribution and syndication. Sitetrail is the price leader coming in at $199 for releases crafted by American writers and a handful of British collaborators at their secondary office in London. Considering that numerous companies compete for this space, it is a healthy market where nobody has a monopoly and ability to abuse their power in the media: albeit that some agency owners are much better connected than others. Given that this space is occupied by Sitetrail, PRWeb / Cision, EIN Newsire, SBWire, WPP, Havas, Upwork, Fiverr, SBNewsire, Send2Press, PR.com and Scripted and PRNewsire, it is easy to see why so many CMO’s choose this as a rout to bypass expensive advertising departments: the likes of Forbes, Entrepreneur and CNN. Ultimately, the best press release platform is the one where writers can pitch an idea that is innovative – and platform owners can get the article accepted by some of the highest traffic news websites to enable viral results.

Online PR is an interesting game where massive gains can be made. Press releases are known to have a far greater ROI than pay per click, social media and even email marketing. It can tie in well with all of these channels and is a potent tool for reputation management, product launches and consistent branding. Make sure you understand the difference between “Native content”, “Press releases”, “Editorial News” and “Guest Posts”. Remember that not all agencies and jurisdictions are regulated by the FTC as the world of media stretches beyond America.

that press releases and online are high-yielding channels of customer acquisition, besides all the obvious reputation benefits that are pursued. Next time someone asks “how do I write a press release?” or “where do I submit a press release?”, it is well worth noting that both these activities can be covered in one step and will save them a lot of time. Most PR service providers are sitting on HUGE media lists so save yourself the time and effort of re-inventing the wheel. Finally: NO. Linkedin is not the most effective way to find media contacts, as they are all inundated with requests from virtual assistants. It pays to hire a professional team with outreach PR.

Jeff is the founder & CEO of BestTechie. He has over 10 years of experience working with technology and building businesses. He's a graduate of the Harvard Business Analytics Program and loves to travel and listen to music.

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