Brief History of News Marketing

A Brief History of D2C News Distribution

Direct-to-consumer press release release distribution had its genesis in 1997. From a small ranch in Hamilton, Texas, a frustrated entrepreneur decided to use the traditional press release format as a way to reach customers directly through online channels.


1997 - Journey Towards PRWeb and Direct-to-Consumer PR Begins

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) PR has its genesis in 1997 when David McInnis used a wire service to get attention for his online business. Frustrated by the lack of interest by journalists, he built his own press release platform, PRWeb. His big idea? Allow companies to post their press releases free of charge. While PRWeb did offer distribution to journalists, that was not the primary focus. McInnis became hyper-focused on a new strategy to bypass journalists with his D2C news distribution model.

2001 - 03 D2C News Hits Its Stride Thanks to SEO and Google News

By 2000, search engine optimization was gaining steam. Newcomer Google was solving search relevance problems with advanced indexing algorithms. Search engine optimization (SEO) was born. In 2002, Google News launched, providing more opportunities for search engine optimization. At the forefront of SEO, PRWeb was able to drive millions of press release page views for its clients. D2C news marketing became a reality.

2005 - 07 Social Media and New Opportunities for D2C News

By late 2004, McInnis became concerned about PRWeb's over-reliance on SEO to drive traffic. Despite the favorable traffic numbers, the ever-present concern of changing search algorithms threatened the viability of the business model. McInnis needed to find new ways to drive targeted traffic. By 2005, PRWeb found these new opportunities in blogging, and the company adopted social technologies at lightning speed. Within a year, PRWeb had essentially become a highly-interactive press release blog using all the features one would associate with a blogging platform, including trackbacks and social bookmarking. PRWeb set the standard for social marketing by early 2006 by embracing virtually every new social technology to boost both visibility and engagement.

2006 Vocus Acquires PRWeb

By late 2005, McInnis found himself in the midst of acquisition talks with four organizations, including two larger wire services, one private equity group, and lastly, Vocus, a SaaS provider in the public relations space. McInnis ultimately agreed to sell PRWeb in December of 2005. By August of 2006, PRWeb had a new owner.

2011 - 12 D2C Faces Obstacles

It wasn't until late 2011 that things began to change for D2C news distribution. Google began a series of search engine algorithm changes with two important updates, Penguin and Panda. These updates affected the way press releases ranked in search engine results. Many long-established techniques for optimizing press release content became less effective. In 2012, press release visibility took a big hit when a press release service distributed a false release on its network. The incident was not the first time in press release history this had happened, but it was a turning point. One of the victims of the false release was Google itself, a fact that caused the original distributor of the false release to go dark for a brief period of time. This created a ripple through all wire services; new editorial guidelines made it nearly impossible to use press releases for news marketing purposes.

2013 - Can D2C News Be Rescued?

We think so. By 2013, search engine optimization was providing very little search engine visibility for press releases. With his non-compete agreement behind him, McInnis started Cranberry as an agency to provide news marketing services. Over the next two years, McInnis experimented with various content marketing strategies to recover from the loss of search engine visibility. The resulting methodologies have been packaged into a single platform which features a new format for news distribution, The News Gist.



News Marketing with Cranberry Gist

We believe that we've figured out how to make D2C news more effective through a new discipline in content marketing that we call news marketing. Our methodology is fairly simple.

  1. Gist your news (break down the news into its core message).
  2. Utilize persona-based messaging for enhanced relevance.
  3. Promote your news story through native, social and Cranberry partner placements.

Our Gist platform will take you through all of these steps. This is where you sign up.