In his blog The Flack, Peter Himler broaches a topic that I'm sure...

In his blog The Flack, Peter Himler broaches a topic that I'm sure the press release distribution companies had hoped would never be mentioned. That is the issue of "feeds" into media outlet websites that are often passed off to the unsuspecting as legitimate public relations results. These feeds serve no legitimate purpose other than to provide fodder for google searches, and for that, there are a number of free options.

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Feeds work like this: Send out your news release via one of the big three press release distribution newswires and your release is then fed verbatim to a special feed section of a big media outlet website such as MSNBC. The trouble is, someone looking for your "news" by surfing over to msnbc.com would never find it because it's been relegated to a special place. That place is segregated from the site's navigation and search tools, separating it from "real" news by a very high electronic wall. The bottom line is that your news release hasn't been covered or published by the media website. It simply lives in an inaccessible area made available to the wire service by the media outlet for some (probably monetary) consideration. The only way you will ever find your release on these sites is via google or another search engine. It's almost like the release doesn't live on the news website at all. Hmmm.

That would all be fine, except for the fact that seeing a press release on a computer screen with an MSNBC masthead over the top is just too tempting for overworked, underpaid and results-starved PR pros who are desperate for "hits." It's too easy to print out or copy the "story" and add it to the "results" pile when everyone knows it is nothing of the sort.

I always try to avoid pointing fingers, throwing stones in glass houses and similar metaphors, but I find most of the blame goes to the newswire services. They know quite well that most press releases do not get picked up by the media and these feeds are the main attraction for PR pros looking for some kind of ROI on their efforts. Thus the newswire business model is built on nothing more than providing "pretend" results.

That's a good gig if you can get it, but I can't help but think that one day, this house of cards will come tumbling down.

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Posted in Health and Medical Post Date 02/16/2016


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