Press release distribution business consolidation should benefit marketers

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As I continue to say to anyone who will listen (or read) press releases are one of the best ways companies can reach buyers directly.

We all have choice when it comes to press release distribution.

I find it fascinating that 2006 four significant press release distribution services have been rolled up into new ownership structures. My take is that this is good for marketers and communicators because the consolidation will make the wires more competitive, putting downward pressure on fees and forcing upgrades to service an innovation.

These deals also means that the middle tier of press release distribution services are no longer "independent". We’ve now got consolidation into several big services or big pocket owners. These deals and the valuations placed on the companies also tell me that press release distribution is a good business and my take is that it will only get better under new ownership. There are still a slew of small press release distribution services out there.

Here’s a recap of the deals:

October 2, 2006 -- PR Newswire acquires U.S. Newswire
Yesterday, PR Newswire, a top press release distribution service for corporations (owned by United Business Media) acquired U.S. Newswire from Medialink Worldwide. U.S. Newswire became the first news release distribution vehicle dedicated solely to servicing the needs of public information officers within governmental agencies, public interest groups, not-for-profit organizations, civic groups, unions, colleges and universities, cultural organizations, research organizations, political organizations and foreign embassies.
My take: One of the two biggest corporate press release distribution services teaming up with a major public and non-profit distribution service extends the reach of PRNewswire in a good way.

August 7, 2006 Vocus acquires PRWeb
Direct to consumer news release pioneer PRWeb teams up with media communications leader Vocus. I find it fascinating that Vocus, a company with strength in the media relations aspect of communications services is bringing a direct to consumer news service into the fold.
My take: This deal confirms what many of us have been saying on this and other blogs about the lines between communicating with the media and communicating directly with buyers (The New Rules of PR) is blurring.

June 12, 2006 NASDAQ acquires PrimeZone Media Network
PrimeZone Media Network, a privately held, Los Angeles-based firm specializing in press release newswire and multimedia services was acquired by the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. PrimeZone's comprehensive suite of information distribution and multimedia services becomes a part of the NASDAQ Investor Relations and Corporate Communications suite.
My take: For NASDAQ listed companies, issuing releases through PrimeZone means there is a one-stop shop for PR and IR and when compbined with other recent NASDAQ acquisitions such as Shareholder.com, the lives of communications people at NASDAQ listed companies should be made easier.

April 3, 2006 - CCNMatthews acquired Market Wire
CCNMatthews is one of Canada's leading newswires and Market Wire is a full-service distributor of company press releases and material news in the US. In April, the companies announced that CCNMatthews was acquiring 100% of Market Wire to join forces to form the full-service newswire with largest media distribution footprint in North America.
My take: This deal is interesting because it brings together big players in the U.S. and Canada into one service making it easy to distribute releases to the media and buyers in North America at once.

January 17, 2006 Berkshire Hathaway acquires BusinessWire
Berkshire Hathaway, of course, is controlled by legendary investor Warren Buffett. In making the announcement, Buffett said: "In making this acquisition of Business Wire, we have followed our blueprint of buying profitable companies that are industry leaders, yet have significant growth potential. We quickly realized that Business Wire was a gem of a company. I expect Business Wire to continue to do what it has always done and I'll be there if I can help in any way."
My take: If Warren Buffett sees value in a press release distribution service, it must be a good business for the long term.

Bottom line: You have a choice in how you distribute press releases. The important things to consider before you send a release through any service are:
1. What reach does the service have into the ways that buyers search for news such as Google News, Yahoo News, vertical portals and online news sites?
2. What reach does the service have into the media that you want to target?
3. What value added social media tools such as tagging via Technorati, DIGG, and del.icio.us does the service provide?

Compare the various services and the pricing levels and choose accordingly. "We've always sent releases through XYZ wire" is not a good reason to continue to use that service.