What defines 'news' in the new age of PR?
One industry peer I enjoy following on Twitter is Elizabeth Sosnow (@elizabethsosnow) of BlissPR, mainly because she focuses on and talks a lot about B2B PR and social media. Her tweet pointing me to her latest blog post drew me in right away because it touches on one of those PR topics (or debates) that persists and won't be resolved soon.
The Purpose of a Press Release
Elizabeth brings up the very pertinent question of when should a B2B company consider when to issue a press release? I agree with her that the answer is when it has news to announce, but in my mind, this raises another question about what should be considered news and for whom.
Yes, press releases continue to be important tools for PR people when working with media and professional bloggers. And I fully agree with Elizabeth that it's critical to know when and how to send a press release to journalists or bloggers. Essentially, it should be done when it gives them information that matches their area of focus and is newsworthy enough for their audience. All good PR people should know this, but unfortunately many don't, which as Elizabeth says makes PR look bad.
Based upon the how much one ascribes to the "new rules of PR", however, there are different dimensions to think about when considering "news" for a press release. PR now must consider whether a press release should be used for direct-to-customer or -prospect communication, leveraging the reach of the web and search engines. Even in this case, you have to pick your spots and be strategic, and this is the role PR counsel should play.
An Example: News for Conference Attendees
One of our clients targets IT professionals that use virtualization software. Earlier this year, it attended the biggest industry conference for this market, but it didn't necessarily have what we'd traditionally consider "hard news" from a media perspective. Nonetheless, it was an important enough event that required us to think about how to leverage the great reach of BusinessWire to put out "news" that would be of value to the typical conference attendee and leverage keywords that would increase the chances they would find it via search and share it through social media.
This client has a large community of users that have downloaded its software, and this provided it with data and insight as to the top issues and problems in virtualization that could be culled for a release. We worked with the client to shape a release that nearly three months later is #1 on Google for the keyword query "top virtualization issues."
Because of the nature of the release, we agreed that the objective was not to get coverage, but to rank high in search and have it spread virally via social media. As it turned out, there were a couple of journalists and bloggers attending that found it on the web and leveraged the content for stories and posts during the event. This was a bonus, but it shows that media/bloggers that have to "feed the beast" are also looking for good content to help them fill out their stories.
So, thanks to Elizabeth for rekindling a very interesting discussion.
How do you define news now, and how should it be leveraged?