PR-Squared's Social Media Tactics Series: Untangling Claims About Wire Services & Social Media

Social Media Release CapabilitiesI sincerely like most of the folks I meet from the major wire services.  But untangling their claims with regard to their Social Media capabilities has proven tough. 

Each service has made huge strides since we first released the Social Media Release template back in 2006, but each service has also taken slightly different routes in terms of functions and pricing.

More than one client has asked for our opinion about, “Which service is best for SMRs?” – and we’ve never had a consistent answer.  The market changes quickly, for one, and some wire services will work better than others, depending on the clients’ needs and budgets.

Still, it’s nice to have a checklist, eh?  A quick way to compare the claims?

You can now download SHIFT Communications’ handy PDF: a one-slide Guide to Social Media Release Capabilities Across the Major Wire Services.

We contacted representatives of each service to make sure we properly represented their offerings, though admittedly we did add a tinge of subjectivity (e.g., in terms of pricing).  You’ll note that we did not provide specifics on pricing, as “your mileage may vary” in terms of negotiating with the wires’ sales reps.

It’s also important to note that we’re not making any judgments here about the relative value of each service in terms of their distribution power.  PRNewswire and BusinessWire, for example, are the grandaddies of wire services and have many strategic partnerships in place that might make their overall offering more powerful, even if they don’t always match MarketWire and PRWeb in all-things-social.  These are issues that absolutely need to be considered and discussed amongst client, agency and wire service representatives.

Special thanks to our own Christopher Lynn, a stalwart SHIFT employee and star blogger at “SocialTNT.”  Chris did most of the research for this grid.  If you haven’t already, you should subscribe to his blog.  You won’t be disappointed.

And if you find these “Social Media Tactics” helpful, be sure to check out the “Jedi Training” section of this blog.  (Why not subscribe to PR-Squared while you’re at it?)

Posted on: February 11, 2008 at 9:43 am By Todd Defren
12 Responses to “PR-Squared's Social Media Tactics Series: Untangling Claims About Wire Services & Social Media”


  • Chris Lynn says:

    Hi Michael:

    Thanks for your comments. We love healthy discussion. :)

    First off: sorry if you feel slighted. It wasn’t our intention. When researching for this grid, we decided to provide the PR Squared readers with information from exactly the same sources they would contact when setting up their own releases: the local sales reps. To double-check the accuracy of our information, local reps were contacted twice before publishing. In the case of PRNewswire, we were advised to contact representatives from your multimedia group, Multi-Vu.

    The ability to create RSS feeds to corporate newswires managed by PRNewswire was not an option given by the reps Multi-Vu Reps, and we couldn’t find it in any literature on the Multi-Vu MNR website. RSS feeds to a corporate newsroom are a big must, IMHO, so I really did a lot of probing to verify. Had we know, we would have gladly denoted that in the spreadsheet.

    In regards to the ability to include comments, I mostly agree with you. I think comments should be housed on the corporate website, but with the ability to input them directly from the release. Marketwire does a great job of this. When asked about comments, one Multi-Vu rep stated that PRNewswire felt that comments should be kept on the company’s blog or website, and suggested we repost the release on our blog to facilitate that conversation.

    Finally, an updated news ticker was our way of describing what Social Media Group calls “Digital Snippets.” It’s basically an update to the SMR of company news, photos, etc. Since Maggie thought this was important, we decided to include it in our grid.

    Blogs are great because the comments can be a great realm for discussion, while adding insight that might not be found in the original post. I’m excited that you commented, and, once again, sorry if you feel slighted for not being contacted. We really wanted to present a post reflecting a typical end-user experience.



  • Todd, I wanted to clarify a few things that seemed to have been missed in the research that was done for this project.

    – PR Newswire does provide an RSS feed to a corporate newsroom or corporate news archive when a client has that service from PR Newswire. This is actually a service that PR Newswire has had for a few years now called MediaRoom. We have actually been offering this type of service in various forms for years.

    –PR Newswire CAN provide the ability for our clients to add comments to Mutlimedia News Releases when our clients ask us to – However, the fact is that very few clients have actually asked for this feature. Many clients (and I have to say that I agree with them) don’t want to allow comments on their news releases where it is not easy for them to monitor. Many clients – especially in the healthcare / pharmaceutical industry and especially with public companies have to be very wary about allowing this on the official word of the company. I’ve always thought – and call me a little old fashion – that the purpose of a news release is to enable conversation, but not necessarily be the vehicle for that conversation. The media (blogs and traditional press) are where those conversations should take place. Those conversations should take place on the client’s corporate website – if they want to allow it for better monitoring – but IMO those conversations shouldn’t take place on our site. Let me repeat though, we CAN host comments for further conversation.

    –In regards to “Updated News Ticker”, I’m going to be honest that I’m not sure what you mean here. I’m not sure if you are talking about additional information in regards to a public company with a ticker symbol or a link to additional releases by that company – both of these PR Newswire can provide (ticker symbol – when included in the release – will link to additional information providing a company snapshot; additional news releases from the company being an additional service which is similar to both BusinessWire and MarketWire).

    Again, I wanted to clarify the above since I was not contacted by the person who researched this story.


    Michael Pranikoff
    Director, Emerging Media
    PR Newswire

  • Actually have just reread my comment and wanted to point out that this wasnt meant as a criticism of – a great little tool. Merely pointing out that its use in this particular case as a comparison measure, given the sites involved, was flawed in my opinion. Cheers. Adam

  • Todd Defren says:

    Adam, I didn’t mind Steven’s chart and more to the point, I am now fascinated by the differences between your comment and Joe’s (PRWeb)… food for thought. Thanks.

  • @Joe

    I think you will find on greater analysis that the socialmeter scores you quote are rather misleading as a measure of participation.
    The actual breakdown of these scores is as follows:

    Delicious – BW(35) PRN(720) MW(107) PRW(924)
    Digg – BW(2) PRN(16) MW(1) PRW(2)
    Furl All Nil
    Google BW(11000) PRN(10300) MW(4580) PRW(20900)
    Reddit All Nil
    Sphere BW(599) PRN(1536) MW(1234) PRW(5647)
    Spurl All Nil
    Techno BW(12410) PRN(45135) MW(16634) PRW(150582)
    Yahoo BW(1) PRN(6) MW(3) PRW(20)
    Total BW(24047) PRN(57723) MW(22559) PRW(178075)
    (Slightly different numbers as a day old!)

    There are a number of things to note about these scores:

    1. The small number of bookmarking saves is because is only measuring saves of the home page for each site. As all of these sites have their releases on individual urls this means that this number doesn’t include any saves of individual releases. An example from our own releases would be the url
    This url alone has 19 delicious saves, whereas a search for only results in 3!

    2. The Google links measure is the same with only links to the home page url being measured.

    3. The Sphere score is misleading as it looks at words rather than specific urls which results in YouTube for instance only scoring 442 by this measure.

    4. The Technorati score is the number of links to the site. However in the unfortunate age of spam blogs these figures are also spurious. As these sites are high traffic sites with significant amounts of content they come in for attack a lot – as I am sure you know and love :) A quick review of the links shown will indicate that the proportion of genuine links is likely to be as low as 5% in some of these cases.

    The effect of these things is to (probably)massively underestimate some parts of the scores and similarly overestimate others. In short I dont really think they indicate anything of substance in relation to any of the wires mentioned :)

    Todd – Sorry for the lengthy comment and many thanks for the handy guide by the way and hope you didn’t mind Stephen’s take on it :)


  • Dave Fleet says:

    Hi Todd and Chris,

    Great survey – this is a very useful tool. Thanks!

    A suggestion for an evolution of this: a second section that has a few more details of the services. For example, while PRWeb lets you include links (at a certain price point), they limit the number you can use.

    This kind of detail would be very helpful to know up-front instead of finding out down the road when you’ve already paid for your release.

    Again, thanks for this.


  • Joe Beaulaurier says:


    Thank you for including PRWeb in this feature detail. The PRWeb column looks accurate.

    Do know PRWeb does provide for embedded video that’s hosted on YouTube, Google, Yahoo, etc. I do realize that is different from hosting and pushing the video as I think your criteria is identifying.

    Also note all the features indicated in the PRWeb column were already in place when the social media release template was released. We’ve been “getting it” for a long time as have our clients.

    Given the topic at hand is the social media release, it is relevant to consider the social media pickup rates for each service. This is an indication of where those who participate in social media are watching.

    The site does this fairly well. Inserting and the others into this meter reveals the following Social Meter values:

    Marketwire: 17,876
    PRNewswire: 56,535
    BusinessWire: 23,043
    PRWeb: 176,735

    Thanks again for publishing this information.

    Joe Beaulaurier

  • Dan Schawbel says:

    Thanks for the clarification everyone.

  • Nice piece of work SHIFT (and Chris).

    Why do they charge additional money to add a YouTube (or any other social networking) video? It doesn’t cost them a thing.

    And how much bandwidth does an image take up these days?

    Call me biased (cos I am) but our SMNR platform has all of these features and then some.

    @Dan Bloggers take media from SMNRs. Images, video and audio (as long as the latter two can be embedded.)

  • Todd Defren says:

    Dan, what you are “missing” is twofold:

    1. The SMR was originally conceived as a means to democratize access to content, i.e., it’s not just “for” the media, it’s for everybody. That means that if a SMR contains a podcast that “Joe Sixpack” listens to (and does nothing else with it), it’s still served a purpose.

    2. Another thing to consider is that the podcast that you might add to a SMR may be used “just” for background or context by the reader, blogger, or journalist. They may now write an article that has more flavor & depth because they listened to the podcast, even if they never reference it or embed it in their story.

    Make sense?

  • Dan Schawbel says:

    Good discussion starter. Now the BIG QUESTION is what media sources currently support “social media” components?

    I mean it’s cool to have these capabilities, but if they aren’t being used by the media, then it doesn’t have as much of an impact.

    I don’t see many media sources taking podcasts off of SMR’s…what am I missing Todd?

Show some social media love would ya?

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