Last time I was in a marketing gig, I recall screaming at our rep from one of the major wire services when they started charging us a per-item clipping fee (I think it was $0.50) for snail-mailing us hard copies of our own press releases — verbatim — which had been “picked up” on Yahoo News, Google News, and all the other usual suspects.
Now, the news wires have stopped charging and are working hard to sell these and other Web effects to companies as unique advantages. Today, PR Newswire, on of the two leaders in the space, announced FreePRWeb, “Everyone from business owners to consumers and even the local church may submit news and press releases via a global online news and press release distribution service with powerful distribution points such as NBCi News, AskJeeves News, Lycos News, Excite News, Topix News, MSN News and Google News…They are also syndicated through more than 20,000 RSS feeds that get re-published on thousands of Web sites that collectively reach millions of consumers and journalists daily.”
Well, yeah, that’s exactly what happens when you distribute news via a wire service. What interesting here is the free level of tiered service, as well as the fact Google Checkout will be accepted for payment. That’s a real change in how these services do business.
And, all you publishers and Webmasters out there — it’s a great link-building strategy, at least short term. The engines may well have to adjust their algorithms soon against a wave of SEO-optimized press release spam. It’d be nice if they didn’t have to — but I fear this could generate an awful lot of very lightweight “news.”