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 I wish many of them were dead? Yeah! But as I’ve said there is not alternative for fair disclosure purposes and the good journalists far from depend on them anyway. We also shouldn’t ignore the utility of the press release in triangulating news and verifying it. And the utility of central third party repositories (wire services) in this process. Blogs aren’t the reason to kill 50% of your press releases – the reason to kill them is that about 50% aren’t news. And don’t transfer the garbage to blogs, put it where it belongs, in the bin.
- Blogs are the new press releases. I hear this one lots from the non-PR blogeratti. Our arrogance/hysteria in assuming the pervasiveness and application of blogs outside of tech is unfounded. Do I think blogs are a perfect mechanism for distributing news? Yeah. Do they replace press releases? No. Do they complement them? Yes. Are they a terrific alternative in some sectors for some audiences for non material news (today)? Absolutely. But we are some ways off complete pervasiveness and verified authority.
- Are wire services dead? Not for a long time – but if they don’t start innovating around RSS then it might happen. The logic doesn’t work today – if PR Newswire is dead, then next comes Reuters. Just don’t see that happening. RSS doesn’t replace wire services. It’s a technology that could be used as much by them as it is by us. RSS remains one of the most important technology developments in communications and you’d better be getting your own feeds to your own communities. But abandon wire services – at least in the next 5-10 years – at your peril. Just do RSS well.
- The humans will rise to kill the machines? I agree with the case for authenticity – but this is not an absolute case for blogs over press releases. This is just a case for writing well, and authentically. Everywhere, all the time.
- Feedback: Why can’t people leave comments on press releases? Again, this isn’t a case for blogs as much as it is a case for using social networking technology. I’m a big advocate of companies posting press releases, keynotes and other materials with trackbacks and comments sections. Makes perfect sense. Doesn’t mean though you stop doing press releases. Dealing with the spam though is a real issue. Until we get new tools and technologies here I expect only the bravest of companies to head down this path.
Seems that Ian Skerrett, Director of Marketing for the Eclipse Foundation has taken this idea very literally, posting a set of draft releases to his blog for comment. Given they represent a community, getting the community involved in the creation of press releases only seems logical – although posting them kills the news and defeats the purpose of a press release. So why bother – other than for the PR value?
James points to this as an example of open source marketing – while I agree with the point he is making here where James is really on is that stealth marketing isn’t the only strategy for getting news into the market. There will be many instances where enterprises will benefit from engaging with their community in the creation of news. Blogs offer a new alternate to the "one size fits all" approach of the press release.
Frankly, I find the the focus on press releases vs. blogs a nuisance. Lift the lid on the issue and what you get to is writing less releases better. And then using new mediums – like the blog. I definitively agree with this.
For me the real issue is the shift from the business of transmitting news to news as a dialog. From the business of sending to the business of engaging. From complete and final communications to incomplete and constructive conversations.
It is for this reason that I believe the technologies and features of the blog will start appearing as a key component of press releases. Maybe the wire services will propel this forward. Maybe the companies will do it themselves. Either way, the sooner we get to press releases with comments, trackbacks, permalinks, lotsa links and tags – the better off we all will be. Press releases become more blog like. But they won’t go away.