Press releases have been a very popular strategy in the search engine optimization industry for a couple years now. If you wanted immediate top rankings in the news portals of the engines plus some additional quick anchor text links, you send out a press release. Here at the Search Engine Roundtable, we even did our own, I wrote up the results under the entry Press Releases & Search Engine Optimization. A new forum thread at Search Engine Watch named Press Release Spam discusses how easy it is to write a press release on about anything and get it widely syndicated. The example the thread creator (mod mcanerin) used was named SEO Firm Raise My Rank Announces New Client and Search Marketing Experiments which is a 154 word release. In the release, if you read it, it is basically mocking the PR system available to us. "Experiments for the week included an attempt to determine the efficacy of the use of search engine submission forms and a study of the attention spans of editors working for online press release services."
In the thread Mikkel deMib Svendsen says that this is not spam. He said, "The offender in my mind is the stupid editors and algos that accept such bad press releases and the sites that agrees to show them." So if the press release distribution methodology is not yet abused enough to be an issue, how much longer until strict guidelines are issued?