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PRWeb’s Distribution Network

Over a year ago we asked our customers to tell us in their own words, what they felt the primary benefit to using PRWeb was.  Not surprisingly, distribution was the top response.

At its core, PRWeb is a content distribution engine.  One of our key missions is to constantly study how audience consumption of news content is changing and make sure that we can adapt the engine to ensure that our customers are able to reach their target audiences in more effective and impactful ways.

One of the key attributes of the distribution engine behind PRWeb is that it is multi-channeled.  This means that when a news release is published on PRWeb, a number of different things happen.  In fact, the multi-channel nature of PRWeb is one of the key differences between PRWeb and some of the other services that are currently out there.

Today’s article is about explaining what these different channels are and how they work in combination to make PRWeb the leading online distribution service.

1. Search engine placement – From day 1, what differentiated PRWeb from the old wire services is the fact that we leveraged search engines to make news releases directly available to consumer audiences, circumventing the traditional gatekeepers of news.  This approach is what helped PRWeb gain the moniker, the “direct-to-consumer” newswire.

Today, search engine placement continues to be an important piece of the distribution engine.  Search engine placement means a couple of things.  First, it means that our news releases are indexed in the standard Web search engines like Google and Yahoo!.  Unlike the old wire services, our releases are hosted indefinitely on PRWeb.com, which means that the footprint they create in Web search will exist indefinitely.  Although the majority of traffic to news releases from search happens in the first few weeks, there are certainly cases where really great content develops enough authority that it continues to drive traffic to customer’s Web sites, months and in some cases, years, after the release is initially published.  Furthermore, the images from the release can get indexed in image search engines (a growing segment of search) and also drive traffic well after the news release has been published.  With regards to image search, we are the only newswire to enter into an official partnership with Photobucket to make sure our images are indexed in their engine.

Not only do we use a variety of means to ensure that news releases are picked-up in the standard Web engines, but we also work to make sure that our customer content is picked-up in news search engines like Google News and Yahoo! News, which is a big difference from some of the alternatives out there.  Our pick-up rates in these engines ranges between 90-95% because we pay close attention to the factors that may prevent news releases from getting picked-up on these sites and work with our customers to make sure they have an optimal chance of getting picked-up.  We also have the industry’s only direct relationship with Yahoo! News that ensures our releases are even hosted by Yahoo! News on a section of their site that is dedicated to PRWeb news.

2. Web syndication – Syndication involves passing our customer content directly to Web publishers in a manner that makes is really simple for them to put it on their Web sites.  Syndication normally involves passing the full version of content to Web publishers (we refer to this as full content syndication) or passing a feed to partners that links back to the PRWeb hosted version of the story.  In general, Web publishers like full content syndication for different reasons.  For many publishers, news release content supplements the content they already have on their site.  From a business perspective, more content means more ad inventory.  That being said, most Web publishers will not engage with news distribution services that don’t have any editorial oversight.

In recent years, we have begun to expand our syndication network in response to growing customer demand.  Our rule of thumb is to engage in full content syndication relationships with reputable publishers who have sites where our customers would like to see their news content show up.  Today, we see our content showing up with consistency on more than 200 “active syndicates,” based on our tracking.  It should be noted that unlike many services that claim to distribute press releases to thousands of Web sites, we focus on places where the news release actually shows up (not on sites that just receive the content).

Another thing to consider when looking at syndication is where the news content shows up on syndicate sites.  We work directly with our partners to optimize the location of the news release content so it is more likely to be found by visitors to our syndicate sites.  Often times, other services will show you a URL where your news release is syndicated on another site but it is buried.  Ultimately, you should be looking carefully at your Web site metrics and referral traffic to make determinations about how successful the syndication component was in your distribution.

3. Direct distribution – PRWeb has an e-mail subscription service that claims over 30,000 subscribers, the majority of which are journalists and bloggers.  In addition, we have over 250,000 subscribers to our various RSS feeds.  This doesn’t mean that every single news release that comes through PRWeb goes to 30,000 e-mail subscribers and 250,000 RSS subscribers because our subscribers choose from an array of industry categories when subscribing (it wouldn’t be a very useful service if we sent over 400 releases to each subscriber every day).  Choosing relevant industry and regional categories when you’re uploading your release will help ensure that you get to the right people in the network.

4. Media distribution – In addition to the bloggers and journalists who are subscribed to receive our content through our e-mail subscription service, we also are directly partnered with the Associated Press (AP) to ensure that our news release content makes its way directly to the top 100 Newspapers in the United States (we have a comparable relationship with the Press Association for PRWeb UK).  Through our partnership with the AP we are actually wired to go directly to the AP console at the top US newspapers where journalists and editors go each day to look for new stories to publish.

In the past year, we have formed the industry’s first partnership with Zemanta, a really cool new company that we consider an AP for bloggers.  Through this partnership, PRWeb customer content gets surfaced in the Zemanta plugin that thousands of bloggers use to enrich their stories.  It’s helped us widen what was already a large gap when it came to traction in the blogosphere.

Looking forward, we are constantly looking at ways of improving the effectiveness of our distribution engine.  As evidenced some of the features we’ve released in the past couple such as YouTube integration, Twitter auto-posting and ShareThis, we are clearly believers that social media is influencing the way that news is shared and consumed and you are likely to see more innovations in this area in the upcoming months.  In addition, we will continue to grow our syndication network in a very methodical and strategic manner, making sure to partner with publishers that will bring more value to our customers.

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