Interview with Joe Beaulaurier of PR Web

One of the many people I’ve had a pleasure of meeting in person is Joe Beaulaurier, Interactive Marketing Manager at PRWeb, Inc. Joe maintains an interesting personal blog on press release issues (no longer in existence).

Question: So a lot is happening these days at PRWeb!

Joe: Yes! We have been extremely busy upgrading our systems to accommodate increasing demands both in release volumes and page views. We have also been busy implementing partnerships such as Billboard’s Billboard Publicity Wire and Business Wire’s EON.

Question: What will being owned by Vocus will mean to PRWeb customers?

Joe: PRWeb has tried hard to listen to the market and deliver the tools and services it wants. This has done very well for us and our parent company, Vocus, wants us to hold that course. Their greatest concern was to come in and do something which would muck up what they saw as a great company with great products and rabidly loyal customers.

Question: Could you inform people about the new Business Wire alliance?

Joe: PRWeb and Business Wire have partnered to create a uniquely enhanced newswire service, EON. EON stands for “Enhanced Online News.” Press releases submitted using the Business Wire’s EON platform receive the benefits provided by PRWeb online distribution and technologies which will make the press release more visible to consumers and more accessible via Web 2.0 sites and social media sites. This really demonstrates how PRWeb complements rather than directly competes with traditional newswires.

Question: Let’s start simple, what distinguishes PRWeb from other press release services?

Joe: Traditionally, newswires were expected to either fulfill disclosure requirements for public companies (distributing news of material interest to stockholders out to financial analysts and into the financial news arenas) and/or to get the media’s attention in the hope they would reproduce the message to their audience. But PRWeb isn’t a disclosure newswire and we don’t stop at delivering your message to the media.

For example, when a traditional newswire says they are inserting your release into Yahoo! News, they are actually inserting it into Yahoo! Financial’s news index. This is where people interested in finance are spending their time, this is not necessarily your best audience (consumers, trade partners, etc.). When PRWeb inserts your release into Yahoo!, it is being placed in Yahoo! News. This is the consumer-oriented property as opposed to the financial-oriented property.

In addition to locating the best distribution channels for your release, PRWeb has also led the industry with, and in some cases is the only newswire to offer, many technologies built into our platform which makes your release more visible online and gives visitors more information and resources when they arrive at your release page.

Question: You recently added several new features. Could you outline what these mean in detail?

Joe: PRWeb customers are always discovering many new features and tools while using PRWeb. Some of these are rolled out with very little fanfare, such as the new eBook Electronic Media Kit Wizard.

The eBook Electronic Media Kit Wizard provides PRWeb customers with the ability to create a professionally produced collection of their press releases in PDF format. This tool provides for a customized cover and company profile page. The full release body including Internet links is provided for every release included. This means PRWeb customers can now easily produce a professional company information packet for the media, potential partners or prospective clients.

There are many other changes such as additions to our PRWeb Podcasting service offerings and Trackbacks are now available on PRWeb Photowire pages.

We are always pursuing new ideas and methods to improve our offerings which, quite frankly, is a very fun part of our business!

Question: Also announced was the elimination of the free release service. Yet many have commented positively on this, can you please explain this apparent contradiction?

Joe: Let me first explain why we did this. PRWeb has grown and changed many times over the past decade. One goal that has always been present has been to give the most people access to our services. To do this meant keeping our prices as low as possible and even providing a free release product in our offerings. This has served us and the market well as our speedy growth has shown. I will go so far as to guess that we have actually created a new group of press release users who otherwise would not have been able to afford them.

But as time passed, we discovered two critical challenges to the free distribution offering. First, we had to defend ourselves and others from the prospect of spoofing (a third-party releasing information about someone or some company that just wasn’t true). To do this, we had to greatly restrict the distribution of free releases to the point where there just wasn’t any value in them any more. Second, the editing resources used to maintain quality content on our site was largely from the free content. The time spent dealing with free content versus time spent on paying customers became too tilted towards free content. So given the risk, the lack of ultimate value provided and the burden on our resources, it was decided to discontinue providing a free release product.

To answer your question, yes there is a positive side to this for our customers and for visitors to our site. As mentioned, we were dedicating a lot of resources to free content which can now be dedicated to our paying customers. This means an increase in customer service response time, freedom for our staff to spend more time with our customers as needed and higher quality content on our site.
I’d like to thank Joe for spending time with us talking about the press and social media release services that PRWeb offers. It’s an evolutionary journey that is taking place in this space. What other questions might you have for Joe? What do you think of these new offerings and how do you compare them to PR Web’s competition? Inquiring minds want to know!


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