Press releases can have value in two specific ways, online.
First, there is the potential for backlinks from authority/news sites.
Second, there is the potential of your press release getting picked up by a major news network and you could get massive brand or product exposure from one press release.
I have a client who I ran a press release for regarding a donation they made to their local police department. They called me one day all excited about the fact that Yahoo Sports picked up the release and was linking back to their site.
Then, two days later, the USA Today picked up their press release and published the story (without a backlink) on the USA Today website... This gave their brand and their products an immense reach with the one press release.
Needless to say they were quite excited with the results from a $99 press release run.
Lastly, it is unlikely that Google will start hating on press releases since press releases have been a marketing staple for decades, potentially a century before Google was ever invented.