Posts filed under ‘Public relations’

We’ve Moved to www.Racetalkblog.com

moving.jpg 

By Kyle

Yes, the rumors are true.  We have closed on this site and are officially moving our digital digs to www.racetalkblog.com (check out the new design). The new site is also now accessible by clicking on the RaceTalk link in the upper right corner of the Racepoint Group Website. 

We got too big and popular and decided we needed our own domain.  Plus now we can actually take control of all the reigns and take the blog in the direction we want to go.  Expect more of the same including more exclusive RaceTalk Q&A’s.  We’re also looking forward to launching some new RaceTalk created video content that we hope to start populating the blog with in the upcoming months.  

So change your bookmarks to www.racetalkblog.com and we’ll see you there.

P.S.

Our new sister blog: World 2.0 Blog, is up and running at www.rpgworld2blog.com.  Check it out and bookmark it as well.  The World 2.0 Blog will pick up on some of the stories we’ve been covering on globalization, sustainability and corporate social responsibility by taking a deep-dive on those issues.

March 26, 2008 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

Why Press Releases and Web 2.0 Go Together

By George

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.

 

March 17, 2008 at 3:39 pm 3 comments

It’s a Brave New World (2.0)


By Peter Prodromou

It’s been nearly 80 years since Edward Bernays changed the face of PR by marching a bunch of women down Madison Avenue smoking cigarettes. Yet even with the passage of time, you could argue nothing’s changed. Companies and governments still use the same tired approaches to publicize their agendas:

1 Part Wall Street Journal + 1 Part Charitable Act = Successful Reputation Management

The problem with that formula is that the world has passed it by.

The Wall Street Journal is still important and, let’s face it, who can argue with the righteousness of charitable acts? But the reality is, today’s audiences are more fragmented, sophisticated and connected than ever. The power of the internet and digital media has given everyone and anyone the power to drive perception. At the same time, the public is more issues driven than ever. Just think about how many of your friends and neighbors talk about the environment… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The companies and countries that are going to define this century are going to need more than economic might and an audience with print and broadcast media. They’re going to be tapped into those issues and, equally important, they’re going to have to understand the value of new technology and web media for not only communicating a story, but creating conversations and on-on-one constituent relationships.

They’ll do it through digital media, blogs, forums and other discussion sites. They’ll do it visually, using the web to spread their message far and wide. Most important, they’ll do it credibly with true commitment to the issues that concern the public today and through true relationship building.

So who’s getting it right? Think One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) – empowering people all over the globe to gain access to knowledge and talking about it on the web, as well as through traditional media. Think British Petroleum, moving to transform from an old oil company, to a next generation energy resource – and is proud – and daring enough — to talk about it.

These are the organizations that give you hope for a better tomorrow and a view into real leadership. These are the model organizations that work now or will work with World 2.0.

February 6, 2008 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Steroid Testing in the Workplace?

By Ben

As Roger Clemens showed everyone on 60 Minutes, steroids are a major issue in sports, and people will probably be fighting over acquisitions and testing for at least the next decade. In a brilliant move, Southwest Airlines decided to capitalize on the hot news topic, putting out a series of great commercials about “productivity enhancers”. Maybe this poor business man can have a sit-down interview with Mike Wallace next to declare his innocence.

January 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

OLPC Raises More Than $35 Million

By George

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.

January 10, 2008 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

The Press Release Isn’t Dead Yet

By George

You don’t hear too much anymore about killing the press release.  It was all the rage for the last two years to talk about the need to murder the poor helpless press release.

The gist of the argument is that in our digital media world – the press release is an archaic relic of the days when PR consultants mailed press releases to editors and reporters (and then went out to hunt mastodons with spears).

You can hit this link to read The Silicon Valley Watcher’s Tom Foremski’s rant of press releases called “Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!” (a headline which is grammatically incorrect, but that’s a post for another time).

Todd Defren at PR Squared supports the rather poorly named Social Media News Release – which is basically a list and a lot of links.  There’s some pros to this approach, but the biggest negative is that it doesn’t allow companies to provide context to the news they are announcing.

A lot of complaints about press releases are legitimate.  Press releases are guilty as charged for containing too much spin, featuring meaningless quotes from executives, and failing to deliver clarity because they are cobbled together by too many cooks in the kitchen.  Companies also inject too much marketing and technology speak into press releases.  The typical press release is written for the market department by the marketing department.  They should be focused on the intended audience (After all, who really uses words like “leverage” and “paradigm” in real life?).

But supporters of killing the press release like Foremski make a big mistake.  They assume that press releases are written for the press.  But they aren’t anymore.  In our digital world, press releases are written for everyone: media, analysts, customers, prospects, partners, and even employees.  In the age of Google searches, press releases are just as likely to be part of the list of results as a news article.  That’s also why Social Media Marketing Releases fail – because they don’t provide an opportunity for storytelling.

That’s why we shouldn’t be killing the press release just yet.  Rather than kill it – let’s save it.  Because of their wide reach – press releases are even more important today than they were 10 or even 20 years ago.  We just need to return to the basics.  Use the press release for its intended purpose: to share information.

Here are some ways that Racepoint Group counsels our clients on how to approach writing a press release:

·         Focus on the News Value – The purpose of a press release is to broadcast a piece of news.  So don’t bury the most important part of the release in paragraph five.  The news needs to be front and center – the primary focal point.

·         Short and Pithy Wins – Long press releases have little chance of being read – by anyone.  The reason press releases turn out too long is because it is difficult to write short.  But at a time when attention spans are shrinking – any release longer than two pages has little chance of holding a reader’s attention.

·         Links Help – Make sure the release contains hyperlinks to Web content that will add another dimension to your news (links to podcasts, web content, news articles, videos, forums, and even other press releases).  Some readers will want to understand the ins and outs of the technology or read a long history on the company.  Rather than put that content in the release – put in a link instead.  It helps with readers who want more detail and has the added bonus of driving traffic to a company’s web properties.

·         Don’t Market Your News – Readers – even business readers – don’t want spin.  They want straight forward information.  So leave the marketing and technology jargon out of press releases.

·         English As a First Language – When writing press releases think Ernest Hemingway rather than William Faulkner.  That means using simple, declarative sentences written in an active voice. Leave the long, stream of consciousness work for Pulitzer Prize winning Southern novelists.

 

December 19, 2007 at 8:25 pm 2 comments


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