PR Miscellany – June 29, 2005

  • Jeremy Pepper continues his series of interviews with PR notables. The latest installment is an interesting chat with long-time technology PR mover Sabrina Horn, President of the Horn Group

    “Our business will always be high-touch. The second we forget about that, is the second we have lost a part of the secret sauce of our profession. Clients want to be “touched,” and some of the best media relations come s from personal connections and human interaction. If you are very uncomfortable in a social situation, PR won’t be the right fit for you.

    Because of the Internet, our business is evolving from a more traditional publicity-oriented, media centric field, to a more well-rounded communications field. We help clients communicate to the press, as well as their business partners, employees, investors, and customers using new forms available for communications.

    Technology has given us great platforms to communicate; email, blogs, extranet, Web sites but it should absolutely not replace the personal touch.”

  • Catherine Helzerman has an interesting post on the “tomorrow’s media” session from the Gnomedex conference. JD Lasica‘s non-profit site for grassroots media which is called ‘Our Media’ looks very interesting. It has accumulated 12,000 pieces in only three months.

  • Andrew Smith addresses some of the pitfalls of trying to apply homogenous PR campaigns and tactics across different regions. This is something I’ll be writing about in the near future, it’s a complex issue and one that is often ignored at the expense of success.
    If you want some light diversion today, why not have a giggle reading Intel‘s famous leaked European media guidelines from back in 1999

  • Stacey Cohen of PR firm Co-Communications has written an op-ed on how best to reach the online audience. While the article has some useful tips, I would strongly recommend caution on implementing some of the tactics. Look at the newsgroup advice for a start…

  • Elizabeth Albrycht has kicked off a new online venture as part of the Corante stable. Future Tense is a collaborative blog which looks at the future of our working lives, now that’s something we’re all interested in.

  • Ryan May over at the Minnesota PR blog has put togethera very simple guide to setting up a blog, including detailed step-by-step instructions.

I hate Radio Userland (Housekeeping)

Ok, so you’ll note that the two previous posts have swopped order as Radio Userland has decided to start eating posts once again.

I have been trying to put this off, but it’s time to start looking a blog publishing alternatives.

If anyone has any guidance on migrating Radio content to Moveable Type or similar let me know 🙂

I’ve had enough…

Unexpected title of the day: PR and blogging….

I have to say I’ve been delighted with the response to my post on the need for blogs to be kept in perspective.

From the comments section on this blog and the huge number of personal e-mails I’ve received, my faith in the common sense of practitioners has been restored.

Believe me when I tell you that I am as bored as anyone reading the same rebuttals to the ‘visionary’ nonsense that I read about blogs. However, from a communications perspective this drivel does need to be addressed in an (vain) attempt to ensure that people don’t get the idea that just because it’s on a blog it’s true!

I’m thinking of some ways to save you, my kind reader, from having to read my constant rebuttals and will deliver something in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we should continue to counter the posts from all those lonely ivory blog towers that have been erected across the Internet.

I also believe that if we re-invested the time spent in ‘blog navel gazing’ into actually looking at how blogs can contribute, rather than decimate PR, we’d be much better off.

With that thought in mind, some recent research from Euro RSCG Magnet [website] and Columbia University found that more than half of journalists use Weblogs regularly, though only 1% believe that blogs are credible.

Other findings included that 70% of journalists who use blogs use them for work, with the most popular uses including finding story ideas (53%), research (43%) and discovering story sources (36%).

68% of them believe that blogs will become a more popular tool for corporations seeking to inform consumers, while 56% agree that blogs will remain an independent and unorthodox means of disseminating information. Finally 93% of journalists said they are being “excruciatingly careful” in fact-checking their stories in 2005 — a huge increase from 59% in 2003.

Elswhere the PRWeek/Weber Shandwick Corporate Survey 2005, which included 228 in-house corporate communications professionals, found that more than 40% said they expect their budgets to rise in the coming year, and another 54% believe that their budgets will remain unchanged.

The survey also looked at the effect of blogs. While the majority of respondents were keeping an eye on blogs, only 8% were maintaining a corporate blog at their company, 22% said that they monitor the blogosphere “a great deal”, but close to 50% admitted that they don’t monitor blogs at all.

Now there are some facts about PR and blogging.

You can find some more common sense opinions on the intersection of PR and blogging here:

Rant: Leave my PR tools alone….

OK so I have been travelling a lot recently and when you combine that with a recent bout of illness and a heavy workload it probably directly contributes to a general bad mood, however Steve Rubel‘s recent post on ‘blogs are the new press releases’ has annoyed me sufficiently to pen a response.

Why is it that proponents of blogging believe that blogs must rape and pillage everything that has gone before?

Why is that?

Why does the press release continue to get a good kicking?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to question the status quo but let’s keep a sense of realism here.

Blogs are a tool. They are a tool that enable you to communicate in a more personal, conversant and interactive manner with your audience. [Technically they’re a set of HTML pages with RSS feeds formatted in a manner similar to a diary].

Press Releases are a tool. They are how organizations communicate news in a format that is widely understood and used. [Technically they are a set of words set out in a logical manner].

All PR practitioners understand that the most effective campaigns use the appropriate tools, in the appropriate manner to reach, educate and inform a specific audience. These audiences vary from staff, to customers, prospects, analysts, journalists, the local community etc. etc.

Why in God’s name would the blog replace the press release?

It won’t. The two will live in perfect happiness together. And here’s why.

If you climb out from behind your personal crusade and look at this question from the perspective of a real-world practitioner, you’ll see that successful PR is all about pragmatism not evangelism.

If the most effective way to reach my audience is posting a blog entry, I’ll do it. If the most effective way is a press release I’ll do that. If the most effective way is to use both tools together… guess what, I’ll do both.

To quote a post from April 2005:

“.. press releases provide a well understood means of official communication for an individual or organization. If you are looking for the latest news you will seek the press release. Furthermore for statutory reasons press releases are an essential record of a company’s performance and history.

There is nothing to stop you using blogs to supplement the press release. In fact we now have a wide array of tools for targeting our audiences including webcasts, web pages, telephones, face-to-face briefings, blogs, bloggers, RSS, e-mail, instant messaging, bulletin boards, mailing lists and intranets. But that doesn’t negate the need for a press release.

A competent PR professional will use the best tools at their disposal to successfully communicate with an audience.”

The sooner we acknowledge that we are in the business of effective communications the better. Putting forward the notion that blogs will destroy all that’s gone before might create fantastic ‘link juice’ among the blogeratti but in my opinion it’s not credible.

Blogs will not perform a slash-and-burn on the PR toolkit. Instead blogs are an important additional element.

Do we think that blogs will turn an unnewsworthy press release into something that’s newsworthy? No. Will blogs turn badly written content into well written content? No.

Will RSS replace wire feeds? Not in the near future. That’s the 1990’s equivalent of putting press releases on your web site and assuming everyone that matters to your organization will read it. Is that what you really think?

RSS will become increasingly important, but you can be sure that the wire services will adopt RSS and companies like Nooked will innovate around the syndication of RSS feeds, and just in case you think RSS is the sole domain of the blog, we’ve been publishing RSS feeds of our press releases for three years with not a blog in sight (Though our press room is now built and maintained with Moveable Type).

All I ask is that we take a pragmatic look at how blogs intersect with our existing tools, let’s get realistic.

You can find some more views on this subject here:

  • Piaras Kelly:

    “Too many bloggers are overhyping the phenomenon. They describe the benefits of blogging as the would describe the features of a microphone. Sure it’ll make your voice that bit louder, but what are you going to say? If you’re still talking the same rubbish that you may have issued before through a press release then blogging isn’t going to help you. Just like press releases, you have to know and understand when and how to use blogging.”

  • Stuart Bruce

    “Blogs and RSS won’t replace news releases because they do a different job. They are pull media, where as the benefit of a news release is that it is push. You target it directly at who you think it is going to be relevant to. It not only varies from company to company, but also from release to release.”

  • Andy Lark

    “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.”m release to release.”

  • The press release isn’t even pining for the fjords (PR Opinions)
  • Will blogs replace press releases (Shel Hotz)
  • Blog relations… three chords and the truth (PR Opinions)

PR Miscellany – June 24, 2005

  • Poor ‘ole Ketchum has been l’enfant terrible in the world of PR blogs for at least the last six months. Some of the criticism has been warranted but some of the recent blog-related bashing has been a little over the top for my liking. After all, how many top tier PR firms have blogs? Not very many in my estimation. So fair play to Adam Brown [blog], director at eKethcum who has responded to some of the more recent criticism over at Constantin Basturea‘s blog.

    After all, if we’re all agreed that this is about conversation and dialogue then Adam deserves our attention regardless of your views.

    More on the recent snafu from Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson.

  • Fridrik Wacka has created a free primer on corporate blogging which will be useful to anyone looking at getting a blog initiative underway. Fredrik also reports that there are now more than 3,500 blogs at IBM…
  • PR Week‘s Erica Iacono looks at how firms are working with staff in creating blogs and providing relevant guidelines. (Thanks to Neville Hobson for the link and Niall Cook has more comments here.)

    If you’re interested in some top level guidelines check this out.

  • Fair play to Ian Skerrett, Director of Marketing with the Eclipse Foundation who has posted some forthcoming press releases and is soliciting feedback ahead of their distribution at the JavaOne show in San Francisco. Now that’s something really different!

    More from Alice Marshall, Catherine Helzerman (one of the 3,500) and John Cass.

  • Jeremy Pepper has an interview with PR pro, blogger and co-author of Naked Conversations, Shel Isreal.
  • Scott Baradell of PR firm the Idea Grove, based in Richardson, Texas was in touch to let me know they have launched an online survey to “help” you evaluate your existing agency and a second printable matrix to help you select a new agency….
  • According to AdWeek Miami-based PR firms John David PR and Julio Garcia Marketing and Public Relations have merged to create David & Garcia PR. The new firm covers the financial, real estate and healthcare sectors.
  • The fact that the San Francisco 49’ers are now looking for a new PR director probably isn’t news to a lot of people…

PR Miscellany – June 22, 2005

Back on terra firma…

Well I’m finally back in the office after far too much travelling and the associated scramble to keep on top of everything. Of course, as is often the case after a lot of travel, I now have an assortment of bugs and colds. Fantastic.

Early last week I spend three days at the Gartner conference in Barcelona. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk with customers and prospects and get a real-world understanding of how they see the market.

Often we’re far too busy in our day-to-day roles to stop and talk directly with our audience. This is understandable, we are busy, but nothing is as effective as hearing first hand what your customers and prospects think. It’s a great opportunity to test and review your messaging and your programs.

The use of Internal blogs…

As part of the IAOC’s European blog week, I posted a brief outline of how we’re using blogs internally here at Cape Clear.

We use blogs internally for three general applications:

  • Internal Communications
    Although our intranet was not created using blog software, it has since 1999, been published using the same format as a blog with plain HTML files published in reverse chronological order. The intranet looks like a blog and it inclues entries on everything that’s happening within the organization. It provides a single source of information on every event, press releases, news story, initiative as well as personal milestones such as new babies, weddings etc….
  • Collaboration
    Our engineering organization has been using blogs since 2002 as part of their development process. There are a number of active blogs covering a range of subject areas such as discussions on new features and updates on specific projects. The blogs ensure that all our engineers are current on the status of any project and have an opportunity to participate in the engineering planning process. We also have specific blogs for different product releases which are archive once the product is shipped….
  • Knowledge Management
    We use a number of internal blogs as central repositories for information on a specific topic. These differ from the development blogs because instead of focusing on a project they act as a single point of access for stories, resources etc. on the a specific technology area….

You can find the full post here.