00:19 AM

PRWatch: Press Releases Must Be Labelled Says Google News

Some PR people love Google News because it often distributes their press releases as if they are real news articles written by independent journalists.

"This gets past the gate-keepers!" has been their gleeful mantra. However, studies have shown that nearly one in five people can confuse press releases with real news stories.

That's all the better if you want a press release to pull the wool over people's eyes. But it's not ethical. And it is not a good thing for society because we need to be clear about what is paid-for-content, what is advertising, and what is not.

New rules about site maps published by Google news state that publishers should use the tag to label their content:

The tag takes one or more of the following values, separated by commas:
- PressRelease (visible): an official press release.
- Satire (visible): an article which ridicules its subject for didactic purposes.
- Blog (visible): any article published on a blog, or in a blog format.
- OpEd : an opinion-based article which comes specifically from the Op-Ed section of your site.
- Opinion : any other opinion-based article not appearing on an Op-Ed page, i.e., reviews, interviews, etc.
- UserGenerated : newsworthy user-generated content which has already gone through a formal editorial review process on your site.

This needs to be done "because these properties can directly affect the experience of a user, it is essential to accurately characterize your articles in Google News."

I've advocated the clear labeling of online PR content for several years so I'm glad that Google agrees.