David Meerman Scott provides a great summary of recent deals folding press release distributors into either larger PR services or content providers with broader marketing missions. As David notes for deals like the acquisition of U.S. Newswire by PR Newswire it's a broadening of market sectors covered; for others like NASDAQ picking up PrimeZone it's a broadening of an existing services line to provide additional reasons to bring new listings to their trading markets or to stick with them to manage compliance requirements that necessitate PR channels. In all of these instances, though, it is a continuation of patterns elsewhere in publishing that require companies focused on distribution to recognize that distribution alone is not the game. The Web has made the PR game a much more sophisticated and conversational practice, requiring mass distribution to be tweaked to the "n"th degree to be effective in both search engines and in engaging very specific markets online. This favors players with scale that can target both huge and targeted markets effectively, like "big box" supermarkets that push mass-market and niche goods under one roof.
On the other side of the coin are newer shops like PR Web, which are priced in a way that allows PR seekers to engage the markets in a more frequent conversational mode, and newer channels for PR such as weblogs, podcasts, online videos. ebooks and viral marketing that can allow PR to move in one-to-one marketing channels in ways that complement commercial PR services. As David outlines in his eBook on the new rules of PR, it takes a broad array of channels to manage an effective PR strategy today. It's great to see mid-sized PR distribution firms finding new management that can focus them effectively but what's missing so far from this picture is these larger PR services enabling marketers to reach out via newer channels more effectively. Perhaps they're busy enough for now, but in a world in which more and more companies are using their own online publishing assets as a channel for their PR efforts I'd be focusing on the broader evolving landscape of PR as much as I would be on traditional acquisitions.