Today’s news that Toronto-based press release distribution company Marketwire is rebranding itself to Marketwired — yes, you read that correctly, all they did was add a ‘d’ — had me thinking: how much longer will press release companies continue to sell the traditional press release (i.e, exist)?
Oh, and the company has also poached Stu Ogwa, former VP of business intelligence of Yahoo, to join Marketwire as EVP of product and technology, according to TechCrunch.
“The press release part of the business, the newswire distribution, is very important to what we do,” said Marketwire COO Jim Delaney to TechCrunch in an interview.
Marketwire was quietly humming along, even in the dot com era, when it used to be called Internet Wire, and was always considered third-place behind PR Newswire and BusinessWire.
Things changed dramatically for the company when they bought social media analytics company Sysomos in 2010. Terms weren’t disclosed but several analysts, including myself, placed the figure at the time at roughly $50 million.
I can’t bash Marketwire too, too much — after all, I started in the PR biz in the late 1990s and the press release was our stock-in-trade. But with the rise of social media and more importantly, social media engagement platforms that help former PR people like myself make sense of the noise and clutter and help us do our jobs better, the tools and skillsets changed dramatically — almost overnight — and the noble press release started to quickly lose its relevance.
Social media engagement platforms caught the interest of PR practitioners, as it allowed us to not only efficiently conduct social media marketing but also monitor and measure what we could rather painlessly. One early provider that stood out is Vancouver-based HootSuite, which, together with Twitter-owned Tweetdeck, essentially created the category of social media engagement tools.
(Disclaimer: I am a paid user of HootSuite Pro, and often make recommendations to companies on the choice of social media engagement or monitoring platform.)
I’ve written on HootSuite before, and I believe that it has the technology and resources (i.e., audience and client list) in place to do some really big things — or at the very least, work well with other software companies to increase an organization’s experience on the social web. No doubt, the management and investors in the company have big plans ahead.
Another curious piece of information: both Marketwired and HootSuite are both portfolio companies of the same investor, OMERS Private Equity, one of Canada’s largest pension funds, with in excess of $60.8 billion of assets.
As such, I think the writing on the wall is clear: at some point in time, perhaps two years down the road, Marketwire and HootSuite will merge. (It’s anyone’s guess what the name of the company will be.) This will make my job, as well as that of other social media analysts and consultants, a bit easier, when we advise organizations on the choice of software or tools needed to manage social media.
Whether this rebranding will work remains to be seen. Up next: whether PR Newswire, the longstanding 800-pound gorilla in the press release game, which is itself a division of UK-based media conglomerate UBM, will change its name to PR Newswired.