It's about content, stupid

Public relations, PR, communications, marketing communications. No matter what term you use, it always comes down to one thing: content.
  • You can have the perfect story, but if the pitch does not work, no one will bite. The pitch is your content.
  • You can have the greatest product in the world, but if you cannot articulate why it's great, no one will care. That articulation is content development.
  • You can have the prettiest blog in the world, but if the content is lackluster, no one will read it.
  • You can be the greatest corporation, but if your press room does not have the right content, reporters and analysts will go away with no pertinent information.
It's been a while since anyone has written about the state of online press rooms. Back in October 2003, Tom Murphy had a couple of posts on the Vocus study and the former MediaMap's recommendations for the online press room.

And, Ben Silverman crowned Apple as the king of online press rooms on his PR Fuel Blog - the right content, the right contact information, the right mix.

But, since those articles, the issue of online press rooms has taken a back seat to every corporation needs a blog. AAAH. And now, fast, stat! Of course, my feelings on corporate blogs are known - blogs are not for every business, and they are time intensive.

It is, however, important to note that every corporation does need an online press room, and that is what is changing out there. It's about content - and that does not mean a blog - and getting that content out to the right people.

And, those of us that have worked with Dan Gillmor when he was with the San Jose Mercury News were well aware of his open letter to PR people. He didn't want phone calls, but only email. And, in his blog for the Mercury News, he noted that PR would need to move to RSS feeds, abandoning email.

From a PR standpoint, the chance to build a phone or face-to-face relationship is best, but you have to follow the reporters' wishes. In Dan's case, he wants emails / RSS feeds. You work with what you get - and hope that when you do have phone conversations, you build that relationship.

But, with the inundation of SPAM in reporter's email systems, there needs to be a new system. And, with the advent of new technology, there are companies that out there to help either rebuild the online press room or work with PR firms and PR people to publish their news.

The fact is that anyone that does not have everything going out in all the preferred channels that media outlets want - be it email, RSS feeds, or even podcasting - is failing to get the information to the public.

That brings up to different strategies for corporations to take when it comes to news and RSS feeds: rebuild the online press room, or just publish RSS feeds.

Building a press room
BNC is a PR firm that has gone the route of rebuilding its press room. Actually, the whole Website is being rebuilt.

They are an example of a company getting it. They are rebranding from publicity firm to an entertainment marketing communications firm.

I spoke with Peter Dang, the firm’s CMO, about the rebranding of the firm and the evolution of its Website. For Peter, the purpose of the new Website is to have journalists find clients’ information, having it accessible so reporters can get what they need.

The rebranding of BNC - from publicity to entertainment marketing communications – is to highlight what the company is doing in non-traditional marketing. The firm worked with iPressroom to redo their corporate Website, to showcase the celebrity outreach, the influencer marketing and the events that BNC does for their clients.

If you take a look at the site, you will notice that it's not a corporate site anymore. It's a content filled playground for the media to find information and news about BNC clients, including the option to download photographs. The platform is a mix of entertainment and pop culture, trying to reflect the hipness of BNC.

Does it do that? In a way, yes – it has information that is being syndicated with RSS feeds and is information on what’s hot, what’s happening in BNC’s core markets.

The site has those RSS feeds for both the clients' and firm's press releases. The site has the option to host video posts and Webcasts of the hot parties that BNC is involved with, such as Sundance events. And maybe have RSS feeds of those events. The site has the option to also host RSS feeds of Podcasts ... which is great for BNC. Say the firm wants to record and stream an event they host for a client, to give the fans some feeling of Hollywood - well, they can have those MP3 links on the site, with an RSS feed for them.

For BNC, the new Website is an interactive effort, to create and build relationships with the media and their clients.

While speaking to Peter, one thing that came up was that the Website needs to be the face of BNC, to be unique and cool, and to be a living, changing site. It has to show that BNC gets “it” and is in tune with the latest happenings.

Peter believes that with the new site, BNC has “achieved the look and personality of the entity we call BNC. In 8 months, you will see the total evolving vision.”

One of the cool things about the new iPressroom is that it can host Podcasts – which the firm is going to announce at Bulldog Reporter’s Media Relations 2005 on Monday. With that announcement, iPressroom is also launching its "One the Record ... Online" Podcast series. In an ingenious PR move, iPressroom is interviewing various reporters and influencers, and posting the Podcasts onto its Website ... with RSS feeds, naturally.

Some of the people that iPressroom has lined up are Andy Lark formerly of Sun, Brad Stone of Newsweek, and Nick Wingfield of the WSJ, among others.

Publishing RSS feeds
But, what if you are not rebuidling your corporate Website. Does it make sense to do a new online press room, or just find a way to publish an RSS feed for the press releases? In that instance, it seems that Nooked makes more sense.

Nooked is an RSS publishing service for corporations. The company publishes RSS feeds, helps extend the reach of those feeds, and provides measurement tools for the clients. It's the reporting and publishing aspects that are of the most interest to communicators.

I have been wanting to interview Fergus Burns, the founder of Nooked for a while. But, then PR Week landed Fergus for the interview, and got a lot of the answers I was looking for.

But, it's hard to get companies to understand the need for RSS feeds. To prove this point, I took a look at the USA Today's Internet 50, to see who is publishing their news in an easy way for reporters.

Um, unless I missed something, only 5 of the top 50 are working to get the message out: Cisco, Yahoo, Sun, Siebel and United Online. That's a 10 percent adoption rate of new technology by technology companies.

Which amazes me - there are so many people that are adopting RSS feeds just to combat the terror of SPAM. RSS is a way to get the information out there, and many of the default home pages are adopting it for their news. You have MSN's homepage with My MSN to add RSS feeds. Yahoo has its My Yahoo with RSS feeds. Firefox comes with that automatic recognition of RSS feeds, and the next generation of Outlook is supposed to have a built-in RSS reader. The only surprising laggard is Google News - you can add content by searching for key words, but you don't have the ability to add RSS feeds yet (or I just can't find it).

What's not to get, though?

It's going to be interesting to see which way corporate America (and, Corporate EU) is going to go. It just makes sense to have RSS options for reporters. And, yes, Nooked's development efforts have also gone into podcasting, to support the variety of ways people get information - not only computers, but also iPods.

Whether it’s a new press room or RSS feeds, it’s about the syndication of content. It’s about ownership of the information, providing the basic information for the media, in a simple way.

But, it will be up the communications teams to scream to get this into place, to make life easier for the media and the public, understanding the power of information and getting it out there.

Technorati Tags:

  1. jeremy, i'd like to knock around some ideas with you. specifically about reactive pitching. i'd like to post a follow up on a better definition, one that you began describing on my blog - wet feet pr. can you email me? i added my email to "my profile" on my blog.

  2. It's not just the spam issue that would be tackled. Latency is my biggest problem. The vast majority of in-house press officers and external PRs are just far too slow to post press releases, statements and briefings.

    One of my biggest (daily) irritations as a journalist is finding an interesting news item and going to the company website to see if there's any more detail, only to find the last posted press release was two months ago.

    I often know there IS a current statement/briefing because chunks of the copy are repeated in different reports from different sources... so then I have to phone/email to track down something I already know exists on a server somewhere.... that is what RDF/RSS was made for!


Post a Comment