Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The rising powers -- and deepening pitfalls -- of press releases...

A few days ago, I found my way to the blog of a communications professional, who was joining AnalystBlog in harassing the firm Plaxo for issuing a press release about the CEO's upcoming presentation at a business conference. The main lesson I took away from this is that strong disagreements about public relations practices continue to exist... even among PR practitioners. Personally, I think that a press release on such a topic is a perfectly smart communications strategy, and would likely generate a good return for the issuing company, especially if their announcement carries timely/important data. In my humble opinion, the BusinessWire release's detailed information on Plaxo itself, its executives and the nature of their participation in the relevant upcoming business conference represent interesting facts which were made readily available to the world via the Internet. And whereas the original blog I visited made the point that no one in the media would pick-up this press release, these days, information like this can be consumed widely without a single member of the traditional media touching it.

The venerable editors of reinforce the idea that press releases are increasingly delivering value beyond "alerting the media" in the Aug. 6 article from Kevin Newcomb entitled "PR: Not Just for Journalists Anymore." The story reports on new search-engine optimization and information-architectural approaches which are being integrated into the press release distribution services of PRWeb and BusinessWire. These developments are reportedly occurring because of the increasingly valuable ways in which press-release types of content can be used to generate results for companies. The bloggers referenced above objected to the quality of the writing in Plaxo's announcement, and within the expanding blogosphere, company announcements like this -- whether meant for the press or for the public -- are subject to criticism that can spread wildly. Bearing all of this in mind, so long as your writing is solid and your announcement carries strategically important information, I encourage you to proudly share all your news, so that everyone who sees it will know you are focused on success, and that you take your business seriously.