Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Revising the Metrics - Are Press Releases Necessary?

Never got around to quoting from Francine Hardaway:

PR, just like everything else, has been disintermediated by the Internet. This is my humble opinion, but it's not so humble, because I owned a PR firm from 1980-1996, after which I was Worldwide Press Relations Manager for Intel's Computing Enhancement group....We produced press releases that went through four or five revs before they were declared "approved" -- aka stripped of anything that would remotely interest a reporter. Inside the corporation, approved meant "our messages, like we want them said."

I won't say what prompted this related comment in response to Lena West's set-up blog post What's Wrong With Social Media:

From the viewpoint of an organization, social media can be TOO decentralized. Let's say that the organization as a whole wants to promote widget A, while an employee would rather promote widget B. That results in a mixed message from the organizational view.

West proposed a solution that allowed the use of social media while maintaining organizational control:

I think it's important that we not throw out the baby with the bath water.

As far as who's agenda gets to see the light of day, that should be determined by the policies and procedures of the company.

Absolutely NO corporation should engage in social media without some sort of corporate governance in place that addresses these new forms of media. So, that solves that.

And, I do NOT agree that everything that employees come up with is OK. I do believe in "wisdom of the crowds" and there's definitely a way to take that approach too far...and saying that whatever employees come up with is correct, is too far.

It's easy for corporations to buy into the hype of losing control of everything the minute they start using social media, but that's simply not true. Just like there are rules that govern the use of corporate laptops and Internet use, so too with social media.

Social media, warts and all, has turned into a bit of a digital witch hunt.

But I've gone off on a tangent, and the management of this blog will discipline me for it. Let's get back to the original question about the necessity of press releases. In a way, press releases themselves are the subject of a witch hunt - especially when paragraphs such as this one appear in the press releases:

Rudder stressed that the new tools portfolio, paired with the Windows Presentation Foundation, a powerful platform-level presentation and display engine, will help drive down the cost and effort associated with building richer, more compelling and exciting applications with unique differentiated capabilities.

Some issues may simply be issues of format:

If journalists are tired of sifting through their inboxes for a decent PR lead and are instead subscribing to RSS feeds and searching for content online, guess what? We have to make sure that our press releases and PR efforts are visible online.

And, in one respect, the top-down vs. bottom-up argument doesn't apply:

Public Relations is about building positive brand visibility and communication. It doesn’t matter whether that communiation is direct from PR pro to journalist or whether it comes via the online webosphere.

In fact, you can argue that certain pros are much more effective in communication than any individual soldier of the social revolution. You probably need both elements (top down and bottom up) to convey your message.

I don't think that press releases will die, since the executives in a company will still search for an avenue to get their messages out.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp del.icio.us tags]

Sphere: Related Content