Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land writes "How PRWeb Helps Distribute Crap Into Google & News Sites" which connects the recent 'news' that WiFi provider ICOA was being acquired by Google for $400 million (not true it turns out) and how PRWeb is able to push any press release out to many online destinations. PRWeb ultimately came out with their own statement:
PRWeb transmitted a press release for ICOA that we have since learned was fraudulent. The release was not issued or authorized by ICOA. Vocus reviews all press releases and follows an internal process designed to maintain the integrity of the releases we send out every day. Even with reasonable safeguards identity theft occurs, on occasion, across all of the major wire services. We have removed the fraudulent release and turned the matter over to the proper authorities for further investigation.
Press release services like PRWeb are doing exactly what we as PR practioners want, and that is to get our clients news out there into the Interwebz, and as Danny's story said 'to buy links.'
Danny also raises a good point about integrity. We think that news outlets who syndicate press releases should do a better job in making it more prominent that it's a paid service.