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Wanting to see if Google News had plugged the fake press release hole I posted about yesterday, I turned one of my posts into a press release and sent it out on I-Newswire and on PR Web. Both offer free press release distribution, but I upgraded my PR Web release, which goes out tomorrow, to a $40 level in an effort to assure my inclusion in Google News. (It’s not indexed in Google News yet.)
PR Web’s site says it’s run on the basis of Fair Commerce. It’s free service isn’t so free. The site says:

As PR Web™ grew and many Internet companies began to fail we introduced a new concept to Internet eCommerce. We call it FairCommerce. FairCommerce is a system that puts services at your disposal while allowing you to decide the value to be placed on those services. For this reason we do not have established delivery prices at PR Web™. Our system has been built on the voluntary contributions of our users. We ask our users to take into consideration what similar services cost and contribute accordingly. It’s fair.

Ok, that sounds like an interesting idea. But then today I got this email from them that makes me wonder just how fair PR Web’s system really is:

RE: What's Next Blog: Small, Smart Boutiques Trump 'Clueless' Big Ad Agencies in Using Blogs in Consumer Marketing
Congratulations. Your press release has received an editorial score of 4.
[they don’t say out of what? or who thinks it’s so great] This score tells us that you have taken time to carefully craft your press release. Now let us help you optimize your distribution.
Because of the quality of your press release you qualify for advanced distribution options including.
1. eMediawire distribution
2. Yahoo! & Google News Inclusion
3. Next day distribution
4. Additional category selections
5. And much more…
We want to make sure that you take advantage of these offerings. Please call us toll free at 866-640-NEWS so that we can help you maximize your distribution.
Alternatively you can log into your account here and upgrade your release to the $80 level in order to access many of these features right away.
Mario Bonilla

So my $40 release won’t get me these features? How do I know I’ll get them for $120? Who evaluated my release, and what criterion did they use? Why doesn’t the site say that you have to pay more to get the features they promise? Does everyone get this email? Do some people get asked to contribute more money? Or Less?
Smells funny to me. What’s it smell like to you? Posted by B.L. Ochman