November 29, 2012 / by Frank Strong

Note:  The following post was written by Vocus CEO Rick Rudman (Twitter | bio).

At Vocus, we’ve always strived to deliver an online news distribution service that is unique and valuable to our customers, while also providing a reliable source of company-generated news for millions of readers.  Earlier this week we distributed what turned out to be a fraudulent news story and fell short on this promise.

We’re sorry for any frustration or embarrassment we caused to the people who rely on the news releases we distribute, and we’ve already made changes to do better going forward.

To those who have asked about our process and our safeguards, I can tell you that we do have both. Yes, an editor does review every single news release that gets submitted for distribution. They check a variety of factors related to content and sender authenticity, they have personal interactions with our customers via telephone and email, and they take additional precautions for releases that contain ticker symbols.  Obviously, the steps we took were not enough in this case. We also know there will always be disingenuous people out there who will attempt to circumvent these safeguards, which is why we constantly review and improve our process as we are doing right now.

In addition to news coverage on the fraudulent release, this incident set off a broader discussion about the purpose of company-generated content, its place in the online news world and the role of news distribution services like PRWeb.

Let me speak first as an entrepreneur who founded Vocus 20 years ago: Getting announcements and news about a company into the hands of interested consumers used to be very hard.  I was told back then that my announcements weren’t “newsworthy.”  As excited as I was about my new software release, the mainstream media wasn’t going to write a story about it.  My announcements were not picked up because of this reason or that reason.  But here’s what I did believe:  I had news about my company I wanted to share and I knew there were people out there who wanted to read it. I also knew that going through traditional channels was not the way to do it.

PRWeb exists to give businesses a way to get their announcements and news directly to the audience that most wants them.  I may not think that a Boston-based rare coin dealer has news for me, but they have news for someone.  I may not be interested in attending an event in Beverly Hills for a new plastic surgery procedure, but there are people who are. And of course, there are plenty of well-known larger companies delivering their news and announcements through PRWeb and into the hands of interested consumers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of companies have agreed with this premise.  PRWeb, which started as a small direct-to-consumer news release service, has become something much bigger, and now distributes more news releases than any other release service in the world.

We have done very well over the years with over one million releases sent.  Yes – with all the growth and all the great news releases, we’ve also distributed some not so great releases.  This is why we’re constantly reviewing our guidelines and editorial standards and why the events of the past few days have already sparked real changes, both human and software-driven within PRWeb that will further improve the quality of the news releases we distribute.

It’s clear that we have to hold our service to an ever-higher standard, so PRWeb will continue to evolve.  We will continue to deliver a service that’s valuable to our customers, valuable to our readers and valuable to our distribution and media partners – and we’ll work tirelessly to deliver on these promises.

Thank you for reading.

Rick Rudman
Chief Executive Officer
Vocus, Inc.

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