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PR In the Digital Age: Are Newswire Services Dying or Evolving?

Dom CileaBy Domenick Cilea, President, Springboard PR

I recently conducted a Twitter poll and asked a simple question: “Do you use a wire service for press release distribution?” One hundred percent of the responses replied no. Actually, there was only one response. So we can discard the scientific validity of the poll.

But this question has been asked many times, and we often discuss how and when to use newswire services with clients. The short answer is we still utilize them.

From a public relations perspective, newswire services such as BusinessWire and PR Newswire have traditionally been instrumental in distributing press releases and other pertinent advisories to the media. However, their role is changing.

Before the Internet was everywhere, information predominantly flowed through newswires. Centralized newsrooms and bureaus were staffed by a cadre of reporters who would scan feeds to determine what was interesting and newsworthy. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television broadcasts delivered our news built on a “top-down, command and control” model.

Today news is distributed to (and through) reporters much differently. News also breaks without them, especially with the ubiquity of social media and mobile phones. As a result the news cycles have accelerated. News and information are “distributed” in real-time through a matrix of sources such as media and broadcast outlets but also blogs, industry influencers and average Joes like you and me using Twitter, Periscope and other tools.

Publicly traded corporations are required to use newswires to meet disclosure and compliance requirements. However, reporters are obtaining information from several channels. They are pitched; they follow companies that interest them on social media; they peruse blogs, and use Google to research, discover, and vet news and information.

The Internet and social media have changed how news is created and distributed. As a result newswires have evolved. In addition to reaching media points near and far, their feeds are being indexed on the Web, making digitized information easily searchable by keywords. Press releases distributed through newswires are also smarter today, integrating links to content and other source material.

Embedded links provide contextual elements to tell a story and engage readers. Content such as video, graphics, and illustrations can easily traverse the newswires and provide readers—media, executives, bloggers and others – with access to information instantaneously.

Years ago newswires were the gateways to information, primarily to the media. Today they are another channel that connects a global audience. Everything is a keyword search away from being discovered. Instead of being a tool solely used by reporters, newswires are now the source of knowledge for all.

This write-up was originally posted on Springboard’s blog; reprinted with permission.

Chief cook and bottle washer at Springboard since 1995, Domenick also dabble in marketing, public relations and social media strategy serving technology, telecommunications and other digital-minded clients.

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