Posts filed under ‘Web 2.0’
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.
Another senseless act of gun violence erupted today – this time on the rural campus of Northern Illinois University. A graduate student is being identified as the gunman who went on a murderous rampage that left five students and the gunman dead. A total of 21 people were shot.
Our sympathies are with the victims, their families, and their friends.
The shooting has unleashed another 24/7 cycle of news coverage. The cable channels, wire services, and national newspapers have been updating the story continuously since it broke this morning. One of the remarkable aspects to this tragic story is the significant role that social media networks and the Web are having on the coverage.
The Web continues to transform the news industry – the way to cover the news, research the news, and present it to readers. For example, CNN is showing photographs of the victims from their Facebook pages. Facebook is fast becoming a news destination for reporters looking for personal information about people suddenly thrust into the spotlight. The cable station even has video of Facebook as an unseen user clicks through the individual pages of the shooting victims.
CNN has also been conducting online research into the identified suspect – finding photographs and other Web content to help fill out its profile of him. ABC News is doing the same. They posted a story today containing information culled from users of an online music community where the killer was allegedly an active participant.
CNN is among the first news outlets to set up an online forum for readers to sound off on the shootings. Hundreds of readers have already left comments behind on the tragedy. CNN has used the forum as a way to gauge national reaction to the shootings.
But it wasn’t only readers wanting to communicate using the latest technology. According to the Washington Post: “Inside the library (at Northern Illinois), more than 50 students gathered around computers. They searched for news and to send messages to friends and relatives, and also tried to use their mobile telephones.”
Still on the fence about Second Life? The internet-based virtual world du jour, launched in 2003, now lists over 20 million users. More interesting however, is a recent article from AP writer Brian Bergstein which shows how police departments across the country are incorporating social networking sites into their regular beats. Although many departments already have the capabilities to implement computer forensic analysis, the mass popularity of sites like Second Life and social juggernauts Facebook and MySpace, have allowed police new ways to track criminal activity –by entering the digital age.
The article notes that with the advent of these networks, criminals and victims alike are leaving clues on their profile pages, in online diary entries or through web conversation. Just recently while surfing on MySpace, I was somewhat surprised to come across a public MySpace page of an openly admitted gang member. Who knew MySpace was the place to share gang tips…
One of the best points made in Bergstein’s story is a quote from a computer crimes investigator for the Virginia Attorney General; “Police need to incorporate Internet analysis into just about every investigation. In the coming years, asking whether a police department has a distinct cybercrime unit will be like asking if there’s a telephone squad.”
Whether good or bad, YouTube allows virtually anyone to become a star overnight. Point and case: Tay Zonday’s ever so popular “Chocolate Rain” has garnered 10.5 million views to date and references on Carson Daly’s Last Call and The Daily Show not to mention a live performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
With the ease of communication and technological advances however, comes a whole new set of legal issues including the ever so controversial IP infringement. And at the moment it is a blurry line that publishers, the music industry and law makers are navigating to find appropriate ways to enforce current IP laws. I attended a recent conference hosted by Boston University’s School of Law and College of Communication where one of the principle speakers, Gigi Sohn, co-founder of Public Knowledge and an internationally known communications attorney, posed several changes to the current copyright law. She noted, “copyright law has become out of touch with our technological reality to the detriment of creators and the public.”
One of the examples of this disconnect that Gigi provided was the current debate of Google’s Book Search program, which allows anybody to search for passages in books that are part of Google’s system. Book publishers argue that by making a digital copy of the book Google is violating their copyrights. On the flip side, if a library is paying for the book in the first place and users aren’t able to see the entire book, then it shouldn’t be a violation. If the court sides with the authors, I agree that this would hinder future technological advancements, as Gigi rightly projects; “imagine if Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN had to get prior permission from every single webpage owner whose works they link to!”
Lawmakers aren’t faced with an easy task. Laws need to be written that better suit today’s current digital world while still protecting the content creator. From NBC Universal alone, YouTube receives about 1,000 takedown notices a month! Recently, several of the larger media companies including Viacom, Walt Disney and Microsoft agreed to use technology to eliminate copyright-infringing content—however I question the effectiveness of the technology. One court outcome that inevitably will affect the industry is Viacom’s $1 billion suite against YouTube. If content creators aren’t rightfully compensated for their work, the quality and amount of creativity is likely to decrease. In the end, it is the consumer’s dollars that are going to have the largest impact. iTunes massive digital sales have already shown the consumer’s distaste for a $17 CD.