Today I present another written interview with Brian Scully, CEO of the PR news site PRUnderground.com
1. What got you interested in creating a press release service? Share your story.
Before PRUnderground.com, I ran marketing and PR for software and internet startups and I was always slightly disappointed with the press release services out there. Not naming names, the expensive press release services started at around $99 and went all the way up to $1200 or so, and the results were limited to some press syndication but not much more. I felt a bit ripped off.
On the other hand the “free” press release services would put other company’s ads in your press release, and would try to upsell everything (a link, Google News inclusion, social media reach, better distribution etc.) and I always ended up upgrading something so it was no longer really free.
Last year I bought PRUnderground.com because it seemed like a fair service at an affordable price. The releases could have images, and embedded video, and got into Google News, were sent to social media, and now are even syndicated to 100 regional news sites all for $20-$29 per release. No upselling, no ads in the release and a price that matched the value you got. I thought there were probably a lot of other marketers out there that would appreciate an affordable service like PRUnderground.com.
2. What are some features that help your company stand out from other services that offer press releases?
PRUnderground.com stands out mainly because it does a lot of what other very good press release services do, but we charge a reasonable price. We also offer a high level customer support. We will call you back. We will email you back. We will give you tips and suggestions. A real person, not just an FAQ or an online help forum. We want you to get the most out of our service.
As a Google News source, the service is also highly effective at getting your press release to show up for search keyword strings in your headline. We have been writing up Case studies of this phenomena (http://www.prunderground.com/category/blog/case-studies/) and the results are pretty intriguing. People say press releases aren’t good for SEO any more, and that may be true from the perspective of backlinks, but you can still use it to very quickly (15 minutes!) get to the first page of Google via Google News.
3. How have you gone about promoting your service and growing to where you are today?
We get most of our traffic through Google and PR, which makes sense given that is our niche. Both organic Google and Google Adwords generate a lot of leads, and a few key PR mentions (like one in Forbes http://www.prunderground.com/pr-underground-mentioned-in-forbes-article-on-the-current-state-of-press-releases/0026236/) have really helped. Word of mouth referrals from customers have also helped a lot.
4. Do you ever find people trying to abuse press releases as a means to promote content that shouldn’t be promoted as a PR newsletter? How does your company handle these types of requests?
Oh yes. Some are fairly innocuous attempts to release non-news in the form of a press release for the sole purpose of SEO. We do require all press releases have the essential basics: A headline issued from the company, contact info of the press person, links limited to 1 per 100 words, etc. Most of those we will publish. But others we reject outright. Some have tried to issue “press releases” full of libel claims against other people or companies (or even the government!) and some have tried to issue releases on illegal products and services. Those all get rejected.
5. What are your future plans for 2014 and beyond?
We are looking to further improve the PRUnderground.com service to extend the reach further into social media, and maybe even do some direct and personal outreach (not spam to 30,000 writers like other services ineffectively do) to relevant writers to help get a company press coverage beyond syndication of the releases. I want people to feel like it was worth the $20-$39 they spend on a release, so we are always looking for ways to give a little bit more value to marketers.