Posts filed under ‘Digital media relations’
There is some interesting work happening over at Optaros, a next-generation consulting firm. Optaros helps companies build web sites and back end systems using Web 2.0 principals. The company recently converted its own web site to showcase what it means by Web 2.0.
Full disclosure: Racepoint was Optaros’ PR agency of record for more than a year, but we are no longer are engaged with them.
Optaros’ new web site has a fresh look and feel (although some of the dynamic content looks a bit clunky, especially on the home page). Optaros lists its “8 Principals for B2B Marketing 2.0” in the new age of the web. Most of its principals have been said before, but they present it well. However, number 6 really took us by surprise:
“Stop issuing press releases “over the wire.” The first press release was “put on the wire” on March 8, 1954 by PRNewswire to 12 news outlets in New York City. The pricing model is still based on the number of words with the average press release costing between $500 and $1,000 to put “over the wire”. Instead, email them to reporters/ bloggers to build a personal connection and increase the probability of coverage.”
This is why companies shouldn’t take communications advice from marketers. They simply don’t understand public relations. This principal flies in the face of what is happening on the web (and also contradicts Optaros’ 7th principal, which is to syndicate and actively share content).
In the age of interconnectivity and search engine optimization why would a company choose to limit the distribution of its own news? When a press release goes over the wire – it is automatically picked up by dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of online outlets. These “links” immediately push the press release to the top of Google and Yahoo searches.
When Racepoint launched Ringleader, a next-generation mobile advertising network, several weeks ago, its press release held three of the top spots in the first 10 results in a Google search for the company for more than 10 days. That meant anyone conducting a search for “Ringleader” had a 30 percent chance of clicking on a link to the press release.
That’s a powerful mode of communication. If a company was wise enough to include links to additional content in the press release then it now has an opportunity to engage more directly with potential customers.
Press releases are more important than ever. The mistake in Optaros’ thinking is believing that press releases are written for the press. That’s old-fashioned thinking for company touting to be Web 2.0. Press releases are now for everyone: customers, prospects, partners, investors, employees, bloggers, social networks, reporters, editors, and analysts.
Companies should be writing more of them – and distributing them widely through the wires, through RSS, through aggregators and social bookmarking services, and, yes, even directly to reporters when a reporter has asked for a copy of one (and generally before its been widely distributed).
(And on another note: Optaros clearly doesn’t understand how to develop relationships with the press either. One sure-fire way to get off on the wrong foot with a reporter is to clutter up her inbox with press releases she didn’t ask for.)
There’s little doubt that the industry needs to rethink the way they write press releases. We agree with Optaros that companies should kill the corporate voice and engage with everyone in a more straight forward, plain-spoken manner.
Here are some additional details about our philosophy on press releases.
It’s refreshing to see companies like Optaros opening up and communicating better. They are setting an excellent example for other companies to follow.
But they should leave the public relations advice to the experts.
Dallas Mavericks owner (and former ‘Dancing with the Stars’ participant) Mark Cuban has instituted a new policy of banning bloggers from the team’s locker room. According to an AP article, “the policy was put in place after Cuban decided to keep out a reporter for The Dallas Morning News whose primary job is writing for the newspaper’s sports blogs.”
As one can imagine, this decision has been met with complaints throughout the blogger community. TrueHoop, an ESPN blog, posted an email exchange it had with Cuban about his decision. Other bloggers have posted open letters to Cuban’ about his decision, such as this one where Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Kamenetzky says the ban is a slap in the face.
Ironically, Cuban posted a response to the outrage in his own blog, BlogMaverick.com:
“Some out there will take this as my not “liking” blogs. Ridiculous. Its the exact opposite. What I don’t like is unequal access. I’m all for bloggers getting the same access as mainstream media when possible. Our interview room is open to bloggers. We take interview requests from bloggers. I’m a fan of getting as much coverage as possible for the Mavs. What I’m not a fan of is major media companies throwing their weight around thinking they should be treated differently.”
Cuban also manages to throw in his own opinion on blogging:
“Newspaper blogging is probably the worst marketing and branding move a newspaper can make. The barriers to entry for bloggers are non existent. There are no editorial standards. There are no accuracy standards. We bloggers can and do write whatever we damn well please. Historically newspapers have set some level of standards that they strived to adhere to. By taking on the branding, standard and posting habits of the blogosphere, newspapers have worked their way down to the least common demoninator of publishing in what appears to be an effort to troll for page views.”
While many are questioning whether this new policy was put in place just to ban one specific blogger from being in the locker room, Cuban has certainly created some chaos, and a distraction from his team’s recent drop in the standings.
From November 12 through December 31, One Laptop Per Child ran a charitable campaign in North America called the Give One Get One. It was simple. Buy two of OLPC’s XO laptops (often called the $100 laptop) for $399 U.S. dollars and you get one; while the second is shipped to a child in a developing country.
The campaign is a case study on the effectiveness of public relations in building awareness, creating consumer demand and driving action. OLPC is a non-profit organization and couldn’t afford a fancy advertising campaign to spread the word about G1G1. So they turned to Racepoint Group.
We have been working with OLPC for more than a year — doing pro bono communications work. But the G1G1 campaign was different. The public relations campaign we created for G1G1 would be augmented by a small (but very creative) advertising campaign (publications and broadcasters agreed to run these ads and short videos as public service announcements). But we were primarily on our own in building awareness and driving traffic to the G1G1 web site where consumers would be able to purchase the amazing XO laptops.
We had already done a remarkable job in media relations for OLPC — but now we were tasked with directly impacting sales. We had to move beyond the core technology and business writers and focus on consumer press. The goal of G1G1 was to reach consumers — directly. There was the added difficulty that consumers could only buy the XO in one place — a web site built by OLPC. Consumers wouldn’t be able to go to a store to look at, touch, or play with the XO. In fact, we wouldn’t even be able to tell them exactly when they would receive their XOs.
A difficult challenge, indeed.
But our campaign generated thousands of articles and broadcasts — from a feature in People magazine to appearances on “Good Morning, America” and FOX-TV and hundreds of blog posts. For the month of December — OLPC was everywhere. The results speak for themselves. OLPC sold more than 160,000 XO laptops and raised more than $35 million dollars.
Proof that when public relations is done right — it can create a powerful impact.