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)