When it comes to the dissemination of material, PR firms have many options to choose from. The Internet has led to easier and more diverse means of distribution. PR firms can use newswires, post in newsrooms and distribute press releases by email, each with its own merits and shortcomings.
Newswires can be a great tool for getting a press release noticed by journalists and customers alike. They offer PRs the prospect of extensive, targeted and up-to-date contacts, useful if you don’t have your own well-researched contact list or are distributing in unchartered territory. They ensure, in their own words, that “every organization has access to the media”.
Newswires are more likely to get noticed as most tout relationships with the main news agencies and journalists understandably trust something from a familiar source- rather than an unsolicited email from a flustered PR exec. The bonus of newswires is their ability to boost brand visibility online, through posting stories on their websites.
Newsrooms can also prove effective. They allow instant publication and bypass the middleman, increasing accessibility. They not only spread your story but also lead people to your website, generating traffic. Online newsrooms can also hold different formats and images for journalists, making their job a whole lot easier.
Trade media websites pack more punch than newsrooms or newswires and should not be ignored. Stories are filtered by journalists and considered newsworthy before being published. They gain more credibility and editors’ endorsement rather than coming straight from the horse’s mouth. They have reputations for decent content whereas newswires are accessible to all and can be seen as click-generating tools, focused on quantity not quality.
Journalism is a highly competitive arena with writers battling to be the first to report a story. Online journalism is simple: the early bird catches the worm. By publishing material in your own newsroom, you pip journalists to the post. If a story is already published, they’re far less likely to report on it. So, whilst newsrooms and newswires are great for getting information ‘out there’, they could be seen to be the enemies of journalism; in direct competition with the trade websites that they provide with news and rely on for visibility.
With increased ability to publish your own material online, journalism is becoming a role less easy to define. Developments in PR distribution such as online newswires and newsrooms can be seen to bypass the need for journalists at all. Of course, this isn’t the whole story; journalistic involvement adds credibility and authority and cutting them out of the process could have disastrous effects on a company’s reputation.