The Times is reporting that private equity firm Apax might bid $1.2 billion for PR Newswire. The companies are not necessarily confirming the story, but for the sake of discussion, let's say the story is right.
Is it worth that kind of money?
Obviously (or, to use the preferred "look at me, I'm smart" word of the moment, "clearly"), I haven't done the due diligence, so anything I say is relatively uneducated.
My point of view is that of a practitioner. I have used, and still occasionally use, wire services to distribute information. It is not my preferred method for getting data and information out, however. There are several reasons, including the fact that I prefer to share news according to its best and most honest path to those for whom it's relevant -- sometimes the media is not that path.
Also, the main reason for wire service existence is no longer really there. It used to be you had limited time and capability to get news into as many editorial hands as possible (I well remember the days of faxing information like crazy, trying to get it out). Wire services would take your data and make it available everywhere for you. You can do that now with a blog or a page on your web site.
I can hear this question already: "What if I don't get any traffic to my site? How will anyone see my news?" Answer: A wire service isn't going to solve that problem for you. Either you have newsworthy data or you don't -- how you distribute it is relevant, but not as relevant as the actual value of the news itself. Another case of focusing on a tactic you hope will overcome a deeply flawed strategy. It won't.
So, is the money worth it? Maybe it is now, because everyone seems to keep insisting on pumping out news releases. But if I were betting, I'd say over the long term that value will diminish as companies (hopefully) get smarter about first identifying and then imparting quality data.