PR pros: PRWeb wants your clients to hate you
Let me rant about a work-thing for a minute.
This is what the screen looks like when you go to distribute a press release using PRWeb, a newswire that syndicates organizations’ press releases. What it doesn’t say is that you can’t get a news release on the bloody wire in fewer than two days with first two options. To do that, you need to buy the “Priority Distribution” upgrade for an extra benjamin.
Here’s why that’s a huge problem: It makes PR people look bad in front of their clients.
The only reason to use a newswire nowadays is for a matter-of-record announcement, like an acquisition, earnings report, or new product launch. Though the folks at PRWeb will certainly disagree, there is hardly ever a substantial difference between any of the options above. They all do basically the same thing and produce basically the same outcomes. Newswires don’t boost SEO anymore, and no journalist — not a single one, anywhere — is truly influenced by them. Journalists want information they don’t already have about stuff their readers don’t already know, which can be achieved better, and apparently much quicker, via email in three sentences. Newswires are just terrible tools for getting information from a company to a reporter who might want to use it.
So, here’s what happens when someone like me uses PRWeb. We have a client that has a matter-of-record announcement to make, which we agree to put on the wire. We quote a price — specifically, the lowest one listed above, because we’re not in the business of depositing our clients’ money into the toilet. The release gets completed the day before, and not a moment sooner than, the client needs the information in it to be public. Then, when we try to use PRWeb, we learn the screen-cap above conveniently omits the 48-hour hold window for Basic and Standard releases. But we’ve told the client what we thought the fee for next-day wire distribution was. So then we need to clarify the cost to the client, which makes us look stupid, bill back a higher cost than we originally quoted, which makes us look stupider, or wait the extra day, which is supremely incompetent.
No one cares about the additional cost. They care about having to waste their clients’ time clarifying trivial details that don’t impact the business.
I find it hard to believe that a large company like Vocus, which owns PRWeb, can’t manage to better articulate what, exactly, customers are buying when they use PRWeb. The customer service rep on the phone told me that the 48-hour hold is mentioned somewhere before you buy what you’re trying to buy. Further investigation reveals it’s the second-to-last bullet-point when you click on the “Learn More” hyperlink, which brought up a new window that, of course, Google Chrome will initially block.
One great way to keep customers from reading something you don’t want them to read is to make them click around a website in order to find it.
Which prompted me to Tweet:
Either PRWeb doesn’t know what motivates many of today’s 300,000 U.S.-based PR professionals to use its services (bad), or it is being intentionally deceptive in its pricing (worse). Either way, it makes PR pros look bad in front of their clients. They should fix it. The reason I took the time to write this post is so that maybe they’ll be transparent.