So you hired a PR firm. And on the eve of your first big announcement, your new rep lays out a plan for a press release. This press release will go everywhere, the rep says, to thousands of outlets, with a potential audience of nearly 100 million people. He gives you a lot of other numbers as well. You don’t quite understand them, but then you’re not a PR person, and 100 million people is a lot of people. Sounds great, you say. And out it goes.
You’ve just participated in the press release industrial complex, a system in which the only guaranteed outcome is that public relations agencies, newswires, distribution services, content aggregators, and media companies all make money. One company that distributes press releases, Comtex, says it processes up to 80,000 of them a day. Kevin Akeroyd, the CEO of another such firm, Cision, says, “The overall volume of press releases both in the U.S. and globally, as well as price per press release, is at an all-time high."
But what about you, the entrepreneur paying for all this? The value you receive is less certain. To understand why, first you need to understand how this system works. Which means following the money.
Everything starts with the PR firm, which will charge an entrepreneur hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to write a press release. Then the firm will use some of that money to distribute the news through a variety of “pre