I'm thinking of doing a press release (with a unique spin on it, not just announcing the launch of the startup) with a PR distribution service like PRWeb. Is the worth the money? If you've used it before, what was your response from using it?
For startups? No.
My success rate with press releases has been: 0
My success rate with PR leads: about 20%
i.e. I get my quote mentioned for every 5 leads that I respond to. It's very easy to get into publications and popular blogs this way.
Live example: I replied to a lead by an INC.com writer on Saturday, it got published on Monday with my quote.
There is one problem that is going to arise soon with PR leads... Saturation. The law of diminishing returns will eventually hit HARO. So enjoy the high response rates while you can.
I've been a user of HARO since the early days (disclosure: Peter Shankman, the founder, was a contractor for my startup a long time ago).
Just recently, HARO has come under the radar of every SEO in the industry. You'll see almost every SEO blog mention it as a link building tool. This is the primary reason saturation is likely going to be an issue in the near future.
Once low quality sources (people who respond to the journalists' leads) overruns HARO, they'll need to have some quality measures in place. Or someone is going to capitalize on that and start a better service.