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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Blogs are the New Press Releases

"The press release is dead, someone please tell the clients," Sally Saville Hodge writes for Marketing Profs. However, while Sally is smart to call for smarter media pitching, she fails to mention weblogs or RSS. I say blogs are the new press releases.

Yup, that's right. That's what I feel. Do I think press releases are dead? No. I think companies will rely on them for years - especially for big news like mergers. But increasingly, you're going to see corporations - perhaps smaller firms at first - gravitate towards blogs and RSS for distributing news rather than spending hundreds of dollars on the wire services. Yahoo's already moving in this direction. Here are three reasons why blogs are the new black ...

1) RSS Will be Everywhere - By 2007 RSS will be considered an official disclosure point because you will instantaneously reach everyone at once. Today we all have a free wire distribution service on our desktops, thanks to RSS

2) The Humans Will Rise to Kill the Machines - People want the facts but they also want to hear the news in a human voice, not from an automaton - "we are pleased" quotes won't cut it anymore, sorry. And the phrase "today announced" will one day fall by the wayside

3) Feedback, Feedback, Feedback - People can't really leave a comment on press releases, but on blog posts they sure can. Companies will crave feedback and people will always want to dish it

What's your take? Ya think I am mad? Let's debate this because it sure is an important topic for the PR biz. What is the future of the press release? To my journalist readers, please weigh in. We need to hear your voice.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Blogs are the New Press Releases:

» Blogs as the new press releases... from Andrew Lark
This is topic we've debated a few times now. With regard to Steve's comments, IMHO: Press releases are not dead. Take a look at Yahoo. Take a look anywhere. They remain the dominant means in which news is disseminated. Do [Read More]

» Will Blogs Replace Press Releases? from Voce
Link: Micro Persuasion: Blogs are the New Press Releases. [Read More]

» In defence of the press release from A PR Guru's Musings - Stuart Bruce
Well actually this is in defence of the NEWS release as I hate the term press release but regrettably it's still what most people recognise. Using the word news reminds you that the release needs to include news and also covers the fact that the medi... [Read More]

» Citizen Public Relations from Blogs4biz
Gli americani li chiamano “press release”. Per noi sono i soliti, vecchi comunicati stampa. Qualcuno, come Sally Faville Hodge di Marketing Profs, sostiene che il loro tempo sia finito e ammette di farne sempre meno uso. Altri, come Steve Rubel di Mic... [Read More]

» PR - External & ER - Internal from think again, ideascape is adventure
Blogs are the New Press Releases by Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion offers his thoughts on press releases and wants to know yours. Judging by the comments on his post, I think Steve effectively demonstrates his third point on feedback. [Read More]

» PR - External & ER - Internal from think again, ideascape is adventure
Blogs are the New Press Releases by Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion offers his thoughts on press releases and wants to know yours. Judging by the comments on his post, I think Steve effectively demonstrates his third point on feedback. [Read More]

» Blogs are NOT the New Press Release - Bursting the Blog Hype Bubble from hyku | blog - Josh Hallett
There has been a great deal of talk about Steve Rubel's 'Blogs are the New Press Release' post. Check out the comments, quite a few well-known names chiming in, but no response from Steve yet. Tom Murphy, Trevor Cook and... [Read More]

» Blogs are NOT the New Press Release - Bursting the Blog Hype Bubble from hyku | blog - Josh Hallett
There has been a great deal of talk about Steve Rubel's 'Blogs are the New Press Release' post. Check out the comments, quite a few well-known names chiming in, but no response from Steve yet. Tom Murphy, Trevor Cook and... [Read More]

» Blogs are NOT the New Press Release - Bursting the Blog Hype Bubble from hyku | blog - Josh Hallett
There has been a great deal of talk about Steve Rubel's 'Blogs are the New Press Release' post. Check out the comments, quite a few well-known names chiming in, but no response from Steve yet. Tom Murphy, Trevor Cook and... [Read More]

» Why Blogs Won't Replace Press Releases – or Publicists from B.L. Ochman's weblog - Internet strategy, marketing, public relations, politics with news and commentary
Steve Rubel recently wrote "Blogs are the New Press Releases." He's a great guy, and very knowledgeable, but he's wrong. Traditional and new media journalists – bloggers -- want scoops. It's scoops that help differentiate one writer from another. No ... [Read More]

» Presseaussendungen vor dem Aus? from Emergence Lounge
Die Diskussion, die u.a. Steve Rubel angestoßen hat, schlägt in der US-Medienszene größere Wellen. Sind Weblogs die Totengräber der [Read More]

Comments

A few months back, I wrote something similar: that it is about content, and while that is true, it is the distribution method that is most important.

  • Are press releases going to go away? Of course not.
  • Am I going to stop putting out press releases for clients? Of course not.
  • Should all press rooms have RSS feeds - iPressroom, Nooked, et al - of course.
  • Should a blog be doing these functions? I think not, since that means the moderation of comments that is time intensive.
I have noticed some SPAM comments on your blog that are porn related. It's an issue for many blogs. But, this is a blog; think about the implications for a business using a blog for news releases with comments that also has porn blog comment SPAM.

See, a blog post can have an opinion and take a stance, and not be all about links.

There is an irony here. Press releases have long been viewed as the "heartbeat" of a company's public relations, while at the same time the content for most announcements did little to make the pulse race.

Enter the world of the blogs ... Suddenly, conversation is lively again. There is an open forum for ideas and the sharing of news and information about people, places and things (corporations). Through RSS, corporations can issue announcements that are less about posturing and more about explaining what they are doing and why. Clients and potential new customers get to respond immediately to the news through the blogs. It's refreshing to see this change, while at the same time, as PR professionals, it is difficult to tear ourselves away from old habits.

I work for a company (Channel Intelligence) that is migrating away from press releases and toward blogs as a means of distributing information about our products, services, success stories and, yes, our challenges (Public Relations euphemism for "problems"). The blogs open our company and our decisions to the world, lifting the veil of stilted press release language and allowing others to say "Great job" or "You guys are nuts!" often within seconds of an RSS posting.

This may well be a change for the better. It will take time to make this professional adjustment from a PR professional's perspective, but it is obvious that blogs present a new way of communicating among corporations, customers, media, analysts and a targeted or general audience. That is a step in the right direction, even if the new shoes squeak a bit.

Sounds right to me.

But smart PR folks will do smart PR things. Bottom line is blogs are still the "new way" to communicate. There are no substantial cases to prove that it's the most effective way to communicate at the moment. Knee jerk reactions cost PR firms and clients money. So if a PR firm doesn't hound clients to blog that's ok, it's not for everyone. Nothing is for everyone.

I support blogs 100% by the way.

In a word - no.

Let's start off with RSS. If I was a journalist using RSS to subscribe to all the companies who I had an interest in, those I didn't and to listen to what else was going on in the world then I'd probably end up with as much clutter in my RSS reader as in my inbox.

Quotes like we are pleased will continue for many years to come. Just because blogging works for one company doesn't mean it will work for everyone. If you suddenly expect every company in the world to become humanised then you are extremely naive. Never mind what your MD says that could affect your share price, an offhand remark about a product line could have ramifications for staff morale in a division.

Let's face it. In many cases PR is about controlling a situation. Feedback is part of everyday life, but you don't want to get bogged down in conversation if you're trying to control a situation. I'm not taking about a crisis situation here. In a lot of cases journalists have an insatiable demand for news. It's about balancing that demand with getting the optimum amount of coverage for your client.

Now just to point out, I'm all for blogs. However, I don't agree with some of these overzealous viewpoints as to their future. Why is blogging the future? Why not podcasting or whatever else. More to the point, technology is expanding at such a rate that blogging probably will be long past mainstream in ten years time.

It's different horses for different courses. Some organisations will end up using bloggign, some will end up sticking with press releases, and some will end up with a combination of both. At the end of the day if what they put out isn't newsworhty or transparent then they'll suffer as a result, blog or no blog.

Are we talking about the format or the delivery method ie paper?

Press releases are media independent – they can and should use any format and any distribution means accepted by the recipient / media. Blogs (like any other Media and/or journalistic format) need Press releases and Press releases need RSS and Blogs.

Dependent on the media and publication about 35 up to over 80 % of news and stories are initiated by a 'kind of press release' ...

The only problem that I personally see with that there is still a certain level of uncrediblity with the blog.

I tend to agree with Mr. Kelly, above - if the question is one of blogs supplanting press releases. But if the question is more Steve's last query (what is the future of the press release), it's possible to frame an answer - or rather, a guess - in even more tangible terms than he does.

Case I: Sticky Situations
As Kelly states, it's probably always going to be a situational dynamic. A major transaction of some kind, or a situation involving significant liability concerns, is probably always more appropriate when confined to a press release. It would be wild, of course, to see Bob Lutz be the first to announce, say, layoffs at Chrysler in his blog. But I think we - and the legal community - are pretty far away from that. Zawodny, in the post you cite up top about Yahoo!, implies as much when he says that "really big" announcements likely still require or deserve releases.

Case II: Unknowns
Separate from high-profile, formal or actionable statements that require the control Kelly references in his comment, there's another case when releases are still valid: when no one has heard of you, or when you are still struggling to expand your audience. Blogs, of course, are perfect for this too - over the longer term. But if no one knows the blog or the company is there? At least currently, releases (expensive and stylized though they are) are more broadly dispersed and recognized than blogs. What's more, they are not necessarily subject to the same "screening" that sometimes RSS implies. You put a release out over PR Newswire on US 1, it's there to be found whether anyone knows your blog URL or not. No guarantee you'll get press, of course. But still, a significant distribution network that it would be bold for obscure companies or products to neglect - i.e., those whose feeds no one subscribes to yet.

There are perhaps other cases where releases are relevant, but this comment is getting long. The point, I think, is that the future of the press release may be one where it, as a communications device, becomes increasingly associated with its own formality. That is, it is used mostly as an alpha/omega tool: something that formally opens, or ends, debate on a high-profile topic. What comes in between may become the province of blogs - or, as Kelly points out, some other distributed communications technology.

JF

Five years ago, I wrote the article "The Traditional Press Release is Dead http://www.whatsnextonline.com/wno/newsletter19.html#topic1 which has been reprinted all over the world. There was a great hue and cry from flacks all over the world about how wrong I was. :>)

Traditional press releases have been a waste of time ever since the Internet became the way that journalists -- and the public -- access information.

Blogs are another outlet, and an excellent one. But journos will always want scoops and therefore there always will be relationships between them and marketers. Companies still will need advice on how to present themselves in the best possible light, and to whom.

Obviously, it is harder and harder to find a scoop these days, and that's a good thing. The journalist and the bloggers' skill is and will be in the angle and the writing.

It's a wonderful development. Citizens' PR, to some degree. Anyone with a story has an outlet direct to the public.
B.L. Ochman
What's Next Blog

John, it would truly be wild if Bob Lutz announced layoffs at Chrysler on his blog, as he's vice chairman of General Motors and blogger-in-chief at the GM FastLane blog, fastlane.gmblogs.com.

Beware of blogging becoming like the syndrome suffered by those whose only tool is the proverbial hammer. Don't get me wrong. Because I am a blog-believer all the way. It's just that, while we want go all the way, we shouldn't get CARRIED away by the vision of all those "nails". Know what I mean?
sd

Yeah, ok, I get the foot-in-mouth award for misplacing Mr. Lutz. I respectfully submit that that's hardly relevant to the rest of the comment, or to Steve's basic question. ;)

I read your post with great interest! My company is poised to provide news release distribution services via blog (BlackChurchNews.com, UrbanBusinessNews.com, VotingWhileBlack.com). For the African American community, it means that the "journalistic aparteid" still practiced by "mainstream media"is rapidly coming to an end.

I'm also not sure whether companies would be willing to trust - hope - that journalists will be sure to hook up their RSS feed, that they will check their RSS reader regularly, and that they will read through blog-releases thoroughly.

PR blogs with RSS feeds, you could say, are just a modification of a PR News Wire. That has been around for some time, in various forms, but press releases continue to be as omnipresent as ever.

I completely disagree with Saville - (and ofcouse agree with Steve) press releases cannot die so soon. Anyways, their transformation can be seen but not their death. By definition itself, press releases and blogs are entirely different that there is no need for the explaination.

Press release are formal communication to the press. Even though we are moving towards the participatory media, we cannot completely wipe off the traditonal journalism and the media.

The purpose and the utility of press release and a blog is completely different. A blog can be about anything, it need not be directly related to a company, whereas the press release is exactly the opposite - it's not generalistic in nature.

Blogging is more suitable for a tech company or for a dynamic environment. People who are doing business in the sphere of internet, software, finance, law , etc. have a upper hand in blogging. Whereas, a company who trades in very common or not so dynamic industry might not be able to have an -interesting blog or a wide audience, say - a company who manufactures leather goods or trades in coal. It's very hard for them to leverage the benefits of blogging. For them, press releases are only choice.

Moreover, blog is an additional method of PR, but press releases cannot be eliminated. If you are keeping just a blog and updating it quite frequently, you will be losing the important blog posts (which are sort of press releases) in the posts clutter. You would have to highlight these imporant posts seperately.

From the readers point of view, imagine the result of going through hundreds of blogsposts and trying to reach a particular important information. Imagine a separate search engine for the general news, press releases and blogs. As a business reporter where would you go to seek some information.?

Can each and every company utilize blogs to their maximum advantage and consider press release dead?. Think for a minute and come up with a answer. Blogging is not just another PR tool, it requires time, dedication and efforts. Can every business afford this OR would like to afford it. Press writing services could be outsourced but getting the blogs also outsourced defies the purpose of blogging.

Press releases are not dead, they are evolving.
Also at :
http://www.newsmotto.com/prblog/?q=node/68

I see no evidence of blogs replacing news releases. People always decry releases. But bottomline is that they work. Blogs are not news releases, they provide an avenue for some extra comment and discussion but that's not an announcement. And in Australia I know of one (count one)major league journalist who uses an RSS aggregator.

Exactly how does a blog satisfy Securities and Exchange Commission requirements for concurrent distribution of material financial information to all audiences in order to preclude giving any one audience an unfair advantage? A press release distributed by a wire service to all required audiences simultaneously satisfies the requirement. A blog does not. It seems that when one is enamored of a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

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