We received an interesting email today from Business Wire, a press release wire service that Warren Buffett bought in March 2006. Currently Business Wire is ranked about #32 on the Techmeme Leaderboard, which puts it above some top tech blogs (but not ReadWriteWeb, which is ranked #6 currently). The email claimed that companies and marketers can use Business Wire to bypass journalists and bloggers to get into key news sources like Techmeme and search engine results too. Is this true?
I think it’s a fair claim – and there’s no reason why Business Wire shouldn’t feature in Techmeme if it is ‘breaking’ news stories or is being linked to by bloggers. In fact it does indeed route around blogs that simply regurgitate PR – which is a good thing in my book!
The real value of good journalism and blogs, IMHO, is the value-added analysis and contextual information that we can provide. A press release that runs in Business Wire may well be a great source of data on a news story. But people read newspapers and blogs to get a more rounded view of news stories, and if they’re lucky some added analysis about the company and/or market segment.
I asked Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera what he thought of Business Wire ranking #32 on the Techmeme Leaderboard. Gabe replied that this in itself “isn’t a problem.” He told me that “press releases are kind of like poorly-written company blog posts, which also have a place on Techmeme. That said, I wish Techmeme at times did a better job at elevating good blog posts above the press releases they discuss.”
I asked Gabe if people actually read press releases from the likes of Business Wire. “Sometimes people want just-the-facts”, said Gabe, “Some PR Newswire releases are in fact remarkable reads”. He pointed to this recent story about Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo (screenshot below). But, Gabe noted, “many others are less so, and better retold by blogs like RWW.”
Techmeme coverage of Microsoft-Yahoo story, with PR stories to the fore
Back to the Business Wire email, which stated that “with a team of engineers and coders, press releases have not only gone ‘public’ but they are embedded with multimedia and infiltrate search engine and social media flawlessly.”
I agree that PR has infiltrated search engines and some blogs – which in the former is good and the latter not so. It’s definitely a good thing that PR is public nowadays due to the Internet. Because it forces journalists and blogs to provide added value to news stories, rather than just copy and paste PR.
You still see some blogs rank highly in Technorati by copying PR sometimes word for word. But long term I think such blogs will, ironically, have their lunch eaten by PR services such as Business Wire. Already Business Wire claims it is embedding their stories with multimedia, so how long before they start to have other ‘social software’ features such as comments, voting, tagging, etc.
So yes, PR wire services probably don’t need us anymore. But to some of us, that’s a good thing!