Things to Consider When Selecting a Web-based Public Relations Service

By Jean Radtke, President, Phoenix Marketing Group, Inc.,

As public relations counsel for your company or clients, one of your jobs is to develop a comprehensive plan that will:

  1. Create a clear identity for your company by delivering consistent image, message, company voice, look and feel;
  2. Differentiate your company from other businesses by focusing on the benefits and attributes only your company can bring to its target audiences;
  3. Build awareness, understanding and optimum utilization of your company, its products and services with a publicity campaign to target audiences using consistent, strategically placed media vehicles that reach them;
  4. Generate excitement and interest in your company’s products and services;
  5. Establish a share of voice in the marketplace that will work to position your company as top-of-mind with people who are choosing your products or services in the geographic area you serve, and;
  6. Create a process to track and measure communications results.

Web-Based PR Services

One of the greatest tools to help you reach your target audiences in the media vehicles that reach them are Web-based Public Relations Services, such as Burrelles/Luce, Cision or Vocus.


Each of the services allows you to find the journalists and media outlets you’re looking for, along with editorial calendars and outlet profiles.  You can search geographically, by media type, beats, topics and audiences.  Your lists can be saved by client or type of list, with all of the contact information you need, such as name, outlet, phone, e-mail, and address.

Social Media

Most Web-based PR services allow you to create and manage lists of blogs and social media for distribution of intellectual property.  Some are starting to monitor coverage, as well.

Distribute Releases

When your media lists are done, you can create professional news releases and other intellectual property, and distribute them with just a click of the mouse.  But beware: Some services limit the number of releases you can distribute within a given year, or they’ll charge you if you exceed the limit.  Some services allow you to insert your logo, photos and videos, but often charge more for these services.  Burrelles/Luce allows you to create a multimedia news kit for distribution to your media contacts.  You can even download the news kit to a CD for distribution to media at a tradeshow.

Release Tracking and News Wire Distributions

The services will keep track of all of the intellectual property that you’ve distributed by date, title of release, and media lists you’ve distributed to.  In addition, Business Wire offers distribution to 3,500 high-traffic news wire feeds for a cost of about $995 per release.  They charge a little more to help you Search Engine Optimize (SEO) it.  If you subscribe to Cision, they contract with PR Newswire, a similar news wire feed distribution that costs $695 for a four-pack.  That’s quite a savings, but it must be used in a one-year period.

Monitoring Your News Coverage

Monitoring the news coverage for your company or client is important to demonstrate the value of your efforts.  Most services send you electronic clips as they are published, and allow you to create monthly or quarterly Clip Reports that include the name of the media, a copy of the coverage, and may even provide the dollar value of the space.

One of the key issues here is to choose the clipping service that tracks most of your media.  My suggestion is to provide all of the clipping services with a copy of your media list and ask them to report back to you which media they read and which they don’t.  Select the service that reads most of your media and has a favorable reading and clip cost.  For example, Cision charges $338/month for national print clipping service plus $2.89/clip, while Burrelles/Luce charges $255/month for their reading service plus $1.95/clip.

Media Relationships

Another benefit of using these services is that they provide the opportunity for you to develop and maintain positive relationships with key editors and reporters of publications that are important to your company or your clients.

You can take a proactive approach to working with key media by reviewing their editorial calendars, pitching them with story ideas, and keeping track of your communications.  Having a successful PR program is predicated upon having a solid media database, a clear message strategy, trusted relationships with the media, and a way to measure results.


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