Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Press releases are not blogs - social media discussion

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 25, 2007

By Tom Foremski

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about the "social media press release" following a panel I was on at the Third Thursday event last Thursday. Stowe Boyd later raised some good points about the PR industry and its use of the word "social" and "audiences" in the context of blogging.


The problem lies in the terminology that the PR industry is using. It wants to use the blogging platform to distribute press releases but these are not blog posts. And the way the PR industry uses "social" is far different from what has been the accepted understanding.

Many people have gotten hung up on the terms being used and that is understandable. And that is why I prefer more neutral terms that won't snag people's cultural sensitivity, that's the point of communicating clearly. However, we aren't going to get rid of the term "social" in the PR context and the discussions are good because they promote and educate others on what is being talked about.


When it comes to companies communicating with their customers, partners, communities, their staff, a blogging platform is a perfect vehicle for press releases because Movable Type or Wordpress has all the tools and features built in for discoverability by search engines, and by others. It has links, tags, keywords, it has trackback and talkback, it can accumulate information over time, it is a type of free-floating document on the internet.

These days, we don't publish to a web site or sites, we publish to the internet. We publish conversational documents.

And the reason documents published through blogging platforms work well is that Google loves blogs. The googlebot loves fresh content that has lots of links, especially from blogs because they are useful sources of great information. Which is another benefit companies get from using a blogging platform for press releases, the content gets into the Google index really fast.

What happens when the googlebot starts picking up corporate press releases launched from blogging platforms and finds out that this is not regular blog content? It won't take much to filter it out.

That's why publishing regular corporate press releases through a blogging platform won't work for long. The content has to change, it has to show that it can initiate and carry a conversation. It has to become a good member of the online society. Otherwise it becomes the dull person seen in the corners of parties, unable to engage with anyone. That's where "social" has meaning.


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Here is Mike Manuel's report on the discussion :


Third Thursday Raises Stink

A new year of Third Thursday meetups kicked off earlier this week, the topic was the social media press release. A quick thanks to our guest speakers: Shel Holtz, Brian Solis, Tom Foremski, and Joel Tesch. Also, special thanks to Chris Heuer for leading the discussion. It was a good introductory chat. The entire thing was recorded as part of the ongoing NMRCast series, you can grab the feed over here.

Of course, if you haven't seen this already, Stowe Boyd thinks our talk just proves (to him) that PR folks still have a lot to learn about social media, and he says so in a kick-to-the-nuts sort of way.

He makes some valid points, the kind those of us stuck inside the PR echo chamber need to hear from time-to-time. I'll give him that, but I also think Stowe makes some bullshit assumptions about the PR industry and the changes many of us are already working to incite. For example, why he misses (or dismisses) efforts to form a standard PR microformat for press releases (i.e., hrelease) in his diatribe about the social media press release is, well, strange to say the least....

Read Chris Heuer's retort for balance. Brian's too.

Update: Stowe responds point-for-point to the link hords. A must-read for anyone. Technorati Tags: ,



Some additional links:

http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/01/enough_already_.html.

The Long Tail: Long Tail PR: how to do publicity without a press release (or the press)

http://www.briansolis.com/2007/01/social-media-killed-press-release-star.html

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