PRWeb Review – Scam or Genius Marketing Tool?

If you’re a business owner and you’ve stumbled around the web recently, you’ve probably encountered a number of ads for PRWeb – a service that offers to promote your business through press releases. About once a week, I get a call from someone at PRWeb who describes their offerings – and I’ve always politely declined, but their  business concept always sounds interesting to me: their prices start at $99, and it’s always good to get some buzz going on news sites. I decided to investigate their services a bit more closely and report my results to you, my dear friends on the internet. Here’s what I found:

How does PRWeb Work?

It’s pretty simple: write a press release about your business, and for $99/pop, PRWeb will get it published for you on news sites and tech blogs. For a little extra, they’ll send your release to journalists and bloggers, in the hopes that they’ll publish it for you on their sites too.

The important part is that, in each release, there’s a small link included to your website (a.k.a. a backlink) – the likes of which are supposed to increase your search engine rankings (Google likes to reward websites that are linked to by reputable blogs and news sites).

Sounds great, right?

It would be – if it worked. It just doesn’t.

Is PRWeb effective?

The short answer: probably not.

Despite PRWeb’s sales pitch, way back in 2005, Google came out and explicitly said that PRWeb backlinks don’t count towards your site’s credibility. In other words – for SEO purposes, they’re entirely useless.

PRWeb press releases still show up in Google News results (Google’s platform for breaking news), but very few Google users ever see news results, and the PRWeb results they do see aren’t likely to generate sales: after all, the most a potential customer is going to see about your business is a simple, half-hearted press release about a new product from your business. Even if they like it, you’re still betting that they’ll find the all-too-tiny link at the bottom of the post.

And, to really top it off, the folks at PRWeb don’t even write the press release for you. You do that. So what are you really paying for? Poor-quality promotion.

Credibility of releases

PRWeb also doesn’t do much to check the validity of the releases they receive – in fact, they do so little that at one point they published a release stating that Google had purchased a tech company for $400 million, when, in fact, the company hadn’t been bought at all.

To add insult to injury, companies who pay for PRWeb’s services, starting at $99 for the basic package, may actually be hurting their credibility – as many of the websites PRWeb publishes to are filled with nothing but press releases (exactly the sort of site that Google identifies as being a bad content provider)  that a lot of potential customers will inevitably associate the marketed client’s business with spam and scams.

What about for legitimate press releases?

If your business genuinely has a press release with something genuinely important to say – PRWeb isn’t a terrible option for getting the word out. For your $100, you’ll get a bit of minor Google News publicity, and you’ll undoubtedly elicit a few reads from browsers on tech news sites – maybe 100 views total. However –  there are far more effective (and far cheaper) ways to publicize your business – ads through Google, Twitter or Facebook, or even a simple article on your website.

If PRWeb worked the way it was supposed to, it would be a tremendous asset to small businesses. But it doesn’t. Google doesn’t care that you spent $99, unfortunately. A more realistic outlook leads to the following brief list of some healthy alternatives:

A More Realistic Approach

  1. Build relationships with other website owners. More relationships means more opportunities to provide one another with back links, direct traffic to each other’s websites and more. Incredible opportunities can result from a single relationship if the situation is right. Find businesses that compliment your own. Put yourself out there and people will respond accordingly.
  2. Guest post on other blogs and websites. If you already have relationships with other website owners, then start making them mutually beneficial. Offer useful articles in exchange for back links in the articles’ signatures. A regular exchange of SEO articles and back links is a highly efficient, two-birds-one-stone sort of relationship to have. The more blogs you can forge such a bond with, the more quickly you can affect your own search rankings.
  3. Create viral content. If you can create unique content that inspires people to share it, then you can distribute your business’s name with unmatched speed. A really interesting article, a truly entertaining video, or any other sharable medium can be a great way to direct people to your brand. It doesn’t even necessarily have to relate to your brand. It’s just about getting attention. At that point, you’ve already made a huge impact, and consumers are ready to hear what else you have to say.

Ready to turn your website into a sales-machine? We’d love to help. Talk to us now – we don’t bite!

Casey Ark

Casey Ark is the CEO of Plato Web Design, a custom web design and marketing agency. His writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Newsday, The Tampa Bay Times, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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6 thoughts on “PRWeb Review – Scam or Genius Marketing Tool?

  1. Thanks so much for posting this information Casey – you are doing a great service and I hope that just some of the people who have received unsolicited marketing from PRWeb will read it. I just sent it to a client who had received a “free offer” from PRWeb with a $49.95 fee per month “Search Engine Maintenance Fee” and “Monthly Google Traffic report fee” . Hmmmm…something isn’t quite right there. My client found your article very interesting reading….and it was very helpful indeed.

  2. Thank you for this great information, I was just on may way to make a press release of one of my books and think to search about this site and found you with interesting information, well i did not use it :)

    Esa

  3. I had many a phone call from these guys and I finally got convinced to give them a try for my business. Their google search free 500 keyword package offer for the $49.50 maintenance and service charge per month sounded OK. I was told I could opt out whenever I wanted, so I thought if I didn’t think it was performing, no prob cancelled it will be . I gave them my credit card and they charged me the first instalment and then sent me the details to sign. Unfortunately when the details arrived there was the slight problem. There is a minimum 12 month period, so I felt I was mislead quite a lot. I also got the email of All payments are non-refundable. I few calls later and I am still no better. My advice is if they can’t be honest from the start. RUN

    • Hi Chris. I just read your post above & wanted to comment, as I’ve had much experience in dealing with similar problems with Many fly by night companies, companies who promise the world and almost Always fail to deliver. It’s really sad that you really can’t trust anyone in the SEO or marketing industry to follow through with their promises. So, this is what I’ve done to cover my arse and it works Every time. The only thing you end up loosing is your time. But, in return for your time you become a little wiser each time.
      Proceed with Caution…
      1) There are apps out there that allow you to record all conversations coming in/going out. I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and I find the app for recording conversations very useful, as we as humans sometimes “forget” what was previously promised and this way no one can say they didn’t “technically” say something or not…it’s right there to play back!
      2) I ask the person/company on the other end of the phone, promising me the world, to send me everything they’re stating IN WRITING. If they agree immediately and do not claim, as many do, that if you do not submit payment in that moment, whilst still on the phone, you will then lose your “Spot” they have available for your industry (very shady) – if they actually say “OK, I’ll get that straight over to you”…then proceed to #3…
      3) Always use a credit card company that stands behind all purchases made. I’ve used my Chase credit cards for many transactions made to these (hind-site) shady companies And even state in the call, before providing my cc# to them, that I have no problem cancelling payment should they Not follow through with Exactly what they are offering (this doesn’t seem to scare the shady…haven’t figured out why that is thus far). And, 9 times out of 10 I do in fact have the displeasure of having to make that call to my cc company and 9 times out 10 I do in fact receive 100% of my $ back! Keep the proof of what has been quoted to you in your emails, so that you can then provide a forward copy of that proof to your cc company.
      In conclusion, back to you Chris, is this: A) unless you actually receive a Referral to a company who specializes in Advertising the old fashion way (brick and mortar establishment that has been in business more than a year or two) from someone you can trust, run, don’t walk…
      B) If you are curious, like I was with PRweb today, which is why I’m now reading this blog on this site, do your due diligence by researching reviews on the company in question (thanks Casey Ark!) PRweb is another one of those Rip Off Artists…but, I digress….again, if you are curious, then follow the rules above before proceeding forward with Caution…and your eyes wide Open.
      Good luck to you all!

  4. We manufacture unique assisted living devices that assist mobility challenged people to pull on and take off their footwear with no reaching or bending required and you can use it standing or sitting down. I contacted Vocus.com in May of 2014 about their press release services which they highly tout and promote. I was also interested in the fact, they represented, that the press releases would enhance our rankings on Google and other major search engines. Since my product is very unique and nothing else provides its service and utility, increasing my exposure was paramount to me and press releases were the way I wanted to go. We are manufacturers only and were seeking out corporate clients, not consumer trade.

    Vocus.com owns PR Web and they claimed to have approximately a million visits a month and that my press releases would go out to 3000 media types for each press release and I could send out 3 releases per month. They stated they provided analytics for every press release showing who read and picked up each release. We are a one product company and it was understood we would be targeting a different market each press release (example: arthritis, orthopedic surgeries, obesity, heart conditions, diabetes, etc, etc). We agreed to proceed and I paid them a onetime fee of $8,100 for 36 press releases and being an entrepreneur had to dig deep and even go in hock to come up with that kind of money. Our product provides a service 40 million Americans alone needed and this would give us the exposure we needed.

    My first release went out in May 2014 and my last was on August 26, 2014- 9 releases. When I tried to send out my release on September 8, 2014 I was informed that my release had to have some new news or announcement to be approved for submittal. I told PR Web the conditions I agreed upon and signed up for and they told me to contact my Vocus account manager. They basically told me to lie about something knew we had going to get approved. I smelled a rat and started investigating Vocus.com and talked to some other people in the business and found out that Vocus.com and had been having problems for some time and had been on a downward spiral since January of 2014. Google verified that fact:

    “On May 27th, PRWeb.com lost more than half of their traffic overnight. They dropped out of the first 20 Google results for more than 8000 keywords. According to SEMrush data, these ranking losses have cost prweb.com nearly a half-million daily sessions.”

    “According to SEMRush, PRWeb has lost over 930,000 estimated visits since January 2014. The largest loss occurred between May and June when traffic fell from 760,000 estimated organic visitors to 40,000 estimated organic visitors.”

    I wrote a letter and sent a certified copy to their CEO Peter Granat explaining my situation. I sent that letter to my account manager, Monica Coleman, via email and she forwarded it her supervisors Michael Newsome and Liam Newsome. I asked for a refund prorated on the press releases I had sent out (9) versus the 36 promised and they refused (don’t give refunds) but that I could use their other services with their “NEW COMPANY” Outmarket.com which offers no press release or search engine enhancement services. I did not receive one contact of interest from the first 9 releases and now I understand why. Their services may have worked at one time but the media and search engines shut off the hydrant fir them and they just kept on misrepresenting themselves, their clout and their services to profit from unsuspecting clients.

    I, then, checked into them further:

    · This man filed a rip off report for the exact same reason January 28, 2013- http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Vocuscom/Beltsville-Maryland-/Vocuscom-PRWebcom-Liars-Frauds-Dishonest-Misrepresentation-Beltsville-Maryland-1004921

    · This rip off report for the same reason was filed May 18, 2012-
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Vocus-Inc/Beltsville-Maryland-20705/Vocus-Inc-PR-Web-bait-and-switch-misrepresentation-failure-to-perform-breach-of-contr-884808.

    These fraudulent and misrepresentations were going on for at least 2 years when I signed up. They spent large to build a website and put in fake analytics, etc to draw entrepreneurial suckers in, like me, who were just trying to enhance their business exposure. I could go under because of this. These people are parasites of the worst kind and they need to be stopped and forced to reimburse their victims or be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Their lies and actions are malicious and premeditated for their benefit. They know they cannot deliver what they state and still take your money. When you pay for 36 press releases, only get 9, they won’t reimburse you for the 27 you didn’t get, and do it on a repetitive basis, that is fraud!

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